Smart strategists for brick and mortar retail operations are always thinking of ways to keep their stores relevant and attractive to customers. As online shopping increases, real-life stores are seeing fewer customers and sales. Many big name retailers are closing locations and revising earnings estimates to reflect lower than expected in-store revenue.
All is not lost for brick and mortar locations. In 2016, only 8.5 percent of retail sales were the result of e-commerce transactions. Customers are still traveling to the store and the mall, but you’ll have to work a bit harder to attract them. Below, we offer four tips to help you transform your retail space.
1. Use Market Research to Develop Store Features
You need consumer insights to develop your retail spaces effectively. Invest in a market research program that explores the features your target customers want to see in your brick and mortar location.
Use your website to engage with customers. Offer discounts, VIP memberships, or other incentives for their participation in online surveys and other research efforts. Your brand-loyal customers are happy to answer questions and talk about the experiences they’d most like to have in your store.
Don’t rely solely on your online polling and consumer questionnaires to determine what offline shoppers want. Provide opportunities for in-store customers to give feedback, too. Offer a free small gift in exchange for participating in a quick survey. Or, hold a drawing for a larger prize if customers call an 800 number and answer a few market research questions.
2. Get Rid of Dated Floor Plans
Listen to your customer’s feedback from market research by updating your floor plans to accommodate stated customer needs and desires. Many anchor retailers retain the same crowded, overstocked layouts they’ve had for generations. Don’t make the same mistake.
Modernize your retail floor plan to allow for easy wheelchair and stroller access. Get rid of narrow racks of merchandise that block traffic and customer flow. Choose floor coverings that are easy to navigate and keep clean. Provide an easy checkout area for all customers.
If you sell clothing, update your dressing rooms to provide privacy and better lighting. Accessibility of your dressing rooms is another key problem to address. Also, if your retail location sells discount or general items, make sure your store’s layout includes plenty of signage, so customers can tell at a glance how much items cost.
3. Update the Shopping Experience for Your Demographic
Whether your customers tend to be millennial parents or senior citizens, adapt your store decor to reflect their tastes and sensibilities. The little details—from your choice of mood lighting to your wall graphics—make a huge difference. Create an environment that welcomes and nurtures your in-store customers without being overly fussy or patronizing.
Use understated yet exciting LED lighting and contemporary merchandise displays to keep your product assortment looking fresh and current. Updated merchandising techniques help sell your products for you. Provide plenty of opportunities for customers to see and feel the merchandise for themselves, too, since this is the area where a real-life store beats an online retailer.
If you broadcast music in-store, use your market research to determine the best tune mixes and volume levels for your particular customers. Develop your own custom music lists to reflect your brand image. Consider adding aromatherapy, virtual reality gaming, or interactive shopping interfaces to keep customers in your location longer.
4. Add Social Spaces to Build a Base
Add to your customer base by including social spaces in your retail operation. Install a relaxing cafe or vibrant snack area where friends and families can meet during a shopping date. Comfy chairs and relaxing spaces encourage your customers to view your store as “their” place, where they feel free to unwind and meet up with their dates and companions.
Provide complimentary Wi-Fi to shoppers to keep them in your store, if feasible. People love to stay connected wherever they go, and they appreciate when they can use their phones and devices at your location without worrying about their data plans. If you also have a seating area for Wi-Fi users, it becomes a convenient rendezvous point for friends.
Some retailers are using entertainment to draw shoppers in, which is also part of a social strategy. Celebrity appearances, mini-concerts, and other events get people talking on social media and walking through your doors. Host a fashion show, a carnival-type sidewalk sale, or a similar event that you can use to highlight your brand and build consumer excitement. Remember the needs of parents by offering entertainment for kids, too.
5. Emulate Online Approaches in Your Store
Rather than feeling envious over the increased attention online retailers are experiencing, copy a few tricks from the e-commerce playbook. Online retailers often offer a high-demand product at an enticing price point, and advertise the deal as an “online special only.” You can do the same thing, offering items as “in-store specials only.”
Online retailers make it easy to find their products and learn about item features. Do the same thing with your store layout and product signage. E-commerce sellers provide plenty of engaging and interactive experiences to build their brands. You can develop ways to engage your customers just as effectively in person.
Contact Hartman Income REIT today to schedule a showing of the best commercial and retail spaces in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. We’ll connect you with properties that suit you and your customers to a Texas T.