Retail stores have been changing the way they do things for a while now. The COVID-19 pandemic simply sped up a lot of the processes. While the world was in lockdown, e-commerce popularity skyrocketed significantly as fewer people visited physical shopping centers. These online trends everyone has seen will likely continue as society enters into a post-pandemic stage of living.
With online stores available at the touch of a button, brick-and-mortar businesses must adjust to keep up with the mobile competition. This article outlines five ways in which the focus of retail is shifting and how it’s for the better. By aligning more with customer values, retail companies can keep attracting new consumers to visit their locations.
1. Creating Personal Experiences
Most people enjoy entering a store because they have a general idea of what to expect. To get customers to return consistently, the retail company needs to make shopping experiences relatable to each person. Successful shops have employees and managers address visitors by their first name and speak to them as a human instead of just someone buying something.
One study found that facial expressions impact moods, so even just smiling at consumers can help others feel happy about entering a location.
2. Making a Space for People to Enjoy
How does brick-and-mortar retail distinguish itself from e-commerce? Shopping isn’t just about products anymore — it’s about creating a specific vibe that makes consumers want to stay. If a retailer has a unique look with colors, music, or art, individuals will want to browse longer for what they need.
Making an attractive environment also encourages others to take pictures and share on social media. For example, decorating the walls with unique pieces of art creates a homey feeling for visitors. People will want to take photos and send them to their friends if centers have aesthetic details inside.
Word of mouth is still one of the best tactics to encourage new shoppers, and loyal patrons will spread the word about any unique place they find.
3. Using Technology to Meet Customer Expectations
During 2020, people turned to mobile orders and contactless pickups. Customers have gotten used to these methods and prefer to do their shopping this way.
For instance, in 2020, online grocery services experienced a compound annual growth rate of 17.3% — and this is likely to continue to go up as time goes on. Brick-and-mortar options had to change how they handled the demand for these methods as the coronavirus surged worldwide.
Consumers like the convenience e-commerce brings them. Physical companies will keep improving their technology sales strategies to please their patrons.
4. Becoming More Flexible
New fashions and trends seem to appear almost overnight. By remaining open-minded to these constant changes, retailers can stay on top of what’s popular to increase their foot traffic and customer loyalty.
For example, in the heat of the pandemic, thousands of businesses redid their stores completely for visitors to practice social distancing methods. Many restaurants pivoted to takeout-based service, while essential retail reorganized traffic flow and created space for pick-up and curbside shopping.
In a time where leasing issues and business closures made occupying a commercial space stressful, flexibility allowed many businesses to adapt. This act caused consumer appreciation for their safety, and businesses gained more respect from their clientele as they adjusted to the current external events.
Keeping up with social media sites is an excellent way for companies to see how they can cater more to their shoppers. Brick-and-mortar shopping centers can attract people by remaining topical while being relatable at the same time.
5. Rewarding Consumers for Their Patronage
People like fun surprises and rewards for expressing their continuing loyalty. When someone enters a shop and receives coupons for in-store purchases, that creates a positive experience they remember.
If a retail company has a unique enough appearance, sometimes that is a benefit in itself. Retailers can have the upper hand on prizes like this by showing returning consumers what they alone can offer.
Brick-and-Mortar Retail Stores Will Keep Improving
Shopping in person is still a popular pastime for many individuals. Online shopping can’t replicate the satisfaction of immediate product purchases. People want to keep visiting a physical business, but their expectations of the experience will continue to change and grow.
Retailers need to know how to please their customers by being open to different ideas — doing so will most definitely increase foot traffic and consistent buyers coming back for more.
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated. Her work focuses on interior and architectural design and has been published by Build Magazine, the National Association of REALTORS and other online publications.