Post-Covid Store Experience Optimization

October 4, 2021

As we return to normalcy, one clear truth must be acknowledged: Covid-19 has had a dramatic and long-lasting influence on brick-and-mortar retail.

Hundreds of well-known retail firms are on the verge of going bankrupt. Since the outbreak began, several of these businesses have been forced to close permanently.

More others are likely to join them in the near future.

It's difficult enough to create a physical area for customers to shop for things in these circumstances. Retailers must now be able to create a one-of-a-kind experience if they expect customers to leave the comfort—and safety—of their homes.

It's no surprise that, even as the pandemic begins to fade in some countries, merchants continue to prioritize Covid-19 reaction for 2021. In comparison to 2020, the majority of sellers expressed pessimism about the remainder of 2021.

But we can't blame everything on the pandemic. This shift in customer expectations has been going on for a long time. Covid-19 just served as a systemic shock, quickening the speed and making it impossible to stop.

Adaptability is the aspect that defines each retailer's ability to prosper in a post-Covid physical retail environment. Specifically, whether they can learn to give the kind of one-of-a-kind experience that would make a buyer's travel worthwhile.

Shopping in a Store as an Experience

The ability of a merchant to enhance the customer experience is critical to attracting customers. This isn't new; for the past decade, merchants have been under pressure to adopt an omnichannel strategy to business.

Buyers in today's market have high standards. They desire comfort and ease, but they also desire to be enchanted.

They anticipate a seamless interactive experience that feels nearly magical. On top of that, they want a personalized client relationship built on genuine human connections.

As a result, we know that customers' expectations for the in-store experience have changed. But what can sellers do about it?

The first step is to change the way we think about physical stores. A store is no longer solely for the purpose of selling goods. Walking into a store has to be a rewarding experience in and of itself.

Retailers have a number of options for making this a reality. For example, interactive sales kiosks provide an opportunity to both inform and entertain customers.

They can assist clients with product identification, transactions, comparative shopping, and entertainment all at the same time. Integrating them with a personal profile via a mobile app can even make the in-store experience more gamified.

The possibilities are boundless; from virtual sports simulators to interactive smart surroundings, merchants are coming up with some ingenious and engaging ways to entice customers into the store. Connected mirrors and interactive entertainment coupled to products are further possibilities to investigate.

These can further differentiate the shopping experience from traditional brick-and-mortar stores. And, once again, staying relevant necessitates that brick-and-mortar retailers create a one-of-a-kind experience.

Personalized Experiences with Technology-Enabled "Clienteling"

Technology, in addition to offering amusement and novelty, offers several chances to customize the in-store atmosphere.

It's become just as crucial to personalize the brick-and-mortar consumer experience as it is to provide a one-of-a-kind experience. Customers desire a personalized relationship with a brand that is consistent and smooth across all platforms.

Customer relationship management (CRM) technology and behavioral analytics are examples of tools that can help with this.

Clienteling is a practice used by many big retailers to expand on existing customer relationships. Equipping in-store personnel with devices like tablets that give them access to CRM technology, as seen at your local Apple Store, is one prominent example.

They can use it to swiftly retrieve information about specific consumers' interests and habits based on previous transactions.

Clienteling enhances the in-store experience in a way that can't be duplicated in a card-not-present setting. It enables employees to offer recommendations that raise average transaction value while also increasing client happiness.

Adapting to such a tech-centric plan, of course, will not be simple...or inexpensive. Adapting this concept to the in-store experience necessitates a substantial upfront expenditure. Not only that, but employees will have to adjust to a completely new retail paradigm.

Both employee buy-in and customer feedback are critical. The human element in the retail experience will not be replaced by this tech-centric strategy.

In reality, as indicated before when outlining the clienteling strategy, efficient use of technology in brick-and-mortar retail necessitates a hands-on human experience.

Instead of being standard salespeople, retailers could rethink their in-store workers as consultants or even personal shoppers. Staff should be able to use in-store technology to supplement their skill sets and lead customers through the customer experience.

This will necessitate retraining of employees, as well as a rise in labor expenses as workers are expected to do more. Thousands of retailers may find these to be critical investments in order for the brick-and-mortar sector to remain successful in a changing retail market.

Examining the experience from the customer's perspective will be another crucial to implementing these new tactics in brick-and-mortar retail. We're talking about detailed, point-by-point analysis.

This necessitates surveys, research, and first-hand experience as a shopper at the store.

At the end of the day, there is no road map that can guide retailers how to succeed in the new retail climate. Everyone is in unfamiliar area, and they are simply attempting to navigate their way through it.

We understand that the automobile is a more dynamic, engaging, and individualized customer experience. Learning how to navigate, on the other hand, is the deciding factor in whether a trader succeeds or fails.

Thanks to David DeCorte at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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