While eCommerce has become a major part of the retail landscape, brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going anywhere. In fact, the in-store experience is still preferred by a number of shoppers, just for different reasons than online.
Consumers want the tactile experience—they want to try out and compare products in person, they want to share their stories on social media, and they want in-store displays to help them decide which brand to buy, among other factors.
It’s what brings shoppers to the store that opens doors for brands to leverage their brick-and-mortar retailers to drive awareness. That is, if you approach the in-store experience the right way. Here’s how.
Visualize a Product Launch
Brick-and-mortar stores can play an important role in the launch of your new product. Shoppers are very visual, which is one reason why end caps, planograms, and other tactics are commonplace in brick-and-mortar retailers.
Visual merchandising is key to a successful product launch. Shoppers are naturally drawn to things that are new. Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, your target customer just needs to see your product in person before buying. Customers might feel nervous about dropping their hard-earned dollars on a completely unfamiliar product, even if there’s brand recognition.
Therefore, take full advantage of your in-store experience to launch new products. Make sure your displays across retailers are compliant, strategic, and visual. Make a strong first impression on your shoppers.
Create an Experience Hub
Everybody loves to have a good time, and that goes for shoppers too. This is why brands are using brick-and-mortar to increase awareness among consumers.
Take the beauty industry, for example. Shoppers want to try on cosmetics. They want to see how they look before buying and they want guidance from experts. Naturally, this is much easier to do in-store than online.
“That’s the nature of beauty and why brick and mortar will continue to be strong,” Ulta’s SVP of Merchandising Monica Arnaudo told Retail Dive. “Our guests, both male and female, like to come in and experience the products and try them on.”
The bottom line is that brands can’t easily replicate that in-store experience online. It’s worth making sure that the interaction is a positive one.
Leverage Social Media
Brands have long known the power of social media to drive awareness. However, not all are leveraging social media in-store as well.
You should take a look at your brick-and-mortar partners to make sure your products are displayed in a way that makes them shareable. Displays should be visually appealing, colorful, fun, and engaging. Some brands have created displays that are designed for social media, such as photo booths. The rise of the pop-up store is closely linked to social media buzz.
On a more traditional level, a well-crafted planogram can make your display attractive and tempting to photograph and share. No matter your strategy, how shareable your in-store presence is should be something to consider.
Take on your Competitors
There are many ways you can grow your brand and take on your competitors. One strategy involves the in-store experience.
Shoppers at brick-and-mortar retailers are often going into the store to buy, not necessarily going there to simply browse. According to the National Retail Federation, 73 percent of in-store shoppers are there to buy a specific item, compared to just 54 percent online. That means they have a high intent, and this is an opportunity to use the brick-and-mortar experience to beat your competitors to the sale.
All of the tactics above could be strategies for achieving this goal: a shareable in-store display, an entire shopper experience centered on your brand, new products, end caps, and more. You can also use competitor intelligence—informing your own strategies based on competitor behavior—to gain an edge.
Deliver consistent, measurable in-store execution to drive awareness. Leading companies establish a system to ensure that their brands are unfailingly activated in the store as intended.
They lay out clear steps for sales reps to follow before, during, and after store visits to ensure compliance with the picture of success. Sell-in activities such as shelf visibility or product availability become performance metrics tied to salesforce compensation, replacing output measures such as sales volume, which may feel unattainable or lead to misguided incentives.
In addition, forward-thinking companies rely on technology solutions—such as handheld devices or online portals—to monitor performance. Not only does this increase sales reps’ in-store effectiveness, it also frees up time for them to visit and improve other critical stores. Overall, the brick-and-mortar experience is—and will remain—a key driver of brand awareness, when done right.