To create an experience in your stores that attracts and converts shoppers to customers, take what you’ve learned in creating your e-commerce site and apply it to your bricks and mortar stores.

The key things to consider when designing your experience are to:

Define the problem you are solving

What is the customer need that this delivers on? What do you need to do to assist the customer is finding the right information to empower them to purchase? What context is the customer in, for example store entry, on the floor, in a change room, or at checkout?

Define your target audience

Who is your target audience? Is the solution you are creating only for a particular customer need or customer type? Do they have needs that vary from a general customer? What are the potential exit points for the customer and how do we remain a part of their purchase consideration? For example if you’re targeting young males, and you have an expensive product, they may not have the ability to purchase there and then. Therefore it’s important that customers can send their desired product to their phone via text or email.

Then determine the technical solution

The technical solution can vary widely, so the only word of advice I have here is to use commercial grade hardware in your rollout. Consumer grade technology, such as iPads, can be problematic; they were never designed to be set up to run all day in a single location. There are screens and tablets that have been designed specifically for these use cases, and the investment is definitely worthwhile.

The touch and feel of the product has become very important, this is where the final purchase validation takes place. In-store digital often comes in here, but the customer drives it. They pull out their mobile phone to do a check on the product they are looking at, they don’t trust themselves, they trust online opinion more than store staff and so they’ll do a quick check. In fact recent research shows that millennials trust online opinion more than that of family and friends.

Imagine, rather than the customer needing to pull out their phone, that you facilitated that purchase validation. Allowing a customer to touch and feel the product, scan its barcode and on a small or big screen allow them to see additional data to validate the purchase is a good move to make. Best practice e-commerce is to provide product ratings and reviews on the product detail page, we’ve added many things to our e-commerce stores to give customers confidence in buying online. Now customers are doing the same thing within your physical store, getting the information they desire and the validation they need using their phones. Creating a solution to allow your customers to get this information from you using interactive technology in store will also assist your customer service staff in closing a sale. They can then use the power of additional content and public opinion to assist the customer in becoming informed and empowered in making their purchase.

Now there are many opportunities for creating interactive experiences including:

  • Digital signage;
  • Ship from store;
  • Shoppable windows;
  • Intelligent change rooms; and
  • Kiosks to name a few.

Most of them can leverage the same technology you have been developing for your online store. Whilst the up front cost of the hardware can be confronting, I’d ask you to consider the current costs you accept in a store fit out. As well as the monthly or seasonal VM updates, where printing and postage, not to mention the staff time to make the changes are an accepted business expense. Then consider the potential savings you can gain from reducing this ongoing expense to a few CMS updates from head office or via a tablet to in-store digital screens. Add to this the opportunity of increased conversion rates for customers that use digital in-store and your business case starts to come together.

From little things big things grow; start small and consider how you’d start today if you didn’t have the legacy. Whether you are using a pilot or pop up store to test and learn, ensure that in designing the solution your customer is kept top of mind. Think of the stories you want your customers to share, as their experience in your stores, and their word of mouth both online and off, are now more than ever a critical sales channel for your business.