The Brick and Mortar Survival Kit, Part 3 - How to make the in-store experience memorable and engaging

If you survey a large cross section of consumers, you’ll likely discover that shopping means something very different to each individual. To some, it means an unavoidable chore, a nuisance, the bane of existence. To others, shopping can be a hassle mixed with sheer aggravation, but peppered with small victories. To many, though, shopping is a form of entertainment. It can be a sport, an art if you will. During this holiday season, retailers will see a rise in sales and must plan their in-store experience to accommodate both the lovers of shopping and those who would rather not leave the house.

“Excite the mind, and the hand will reach for the pocket” –Harry Gordon Selfridge

Selfridge’s in the early 1900’s

When Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of London’s infamous Selfridge & Co., decided that shopping should be a fun adventure instead of a chore, he unleashed a whirlwind of retail success. Since Selfridge’s new model of retail in the 1920’s, many retailers have found ways to engage their customers by creating a memorable experience. You probably don’t clearly remember your first online purchase, but if you’ve been to one of the largest Whole Foods in Southern California, it has likely left an impression. Perusing some of the more exotic merchandise and contemplating buying $40 Himalayan pink salt can be almost as rewarding as a visit to an art gallery. One can enjoy free samples of gluten-free crackers, sign up for a sushi making class, and order a custom-made gourmet sandwich (or just sneak olives near the deli section). Many of these demonstrations, in-store promotions and creative visual merchandising techniques can create an emotional connection with the customer – reinforcing the store’s image and enhancing the atmosphere.

Along with the excitement of demo stations and elaborate displays, brick-and-mortar shopping can still inevitably turn off the customers who don’t typically like to shop for recreation’s sake. Lineups and crowding are almost inescapable as the holidays approach, but LightSpeed technology can help retailers mimic online efficiency (see Survival Kit Series Part 1). By using tablet software to check-out customers on the spot, as well as the ability to check inventory without wasting time in a stock room, the hectic holiday season can be gentler on even the grumpiest of customers.

As Harry Selfridge said, “Entertainment, customer service, and value for money. The first will get them in, while the second and third will keep them there”. Knowing how to dazzle shopping-lovers as well as appease those who want a hassle-free experience will surely earn a store’s place on everyone’s holiday shopping list this year.