Retail atmosphere and shopping experience setting retailers apart
Why do people go shopping where they do? This is a question many retailers have posed over the past few centuries, but it’s more relevant now than ever before. In the past, people were forced to shop at nearby stores, but now with the Web and free-shipping, retailers are no longer relying on local audiences.
There are a number of different factors fueling customer purchases, from inventory selection to service. However, one subject that has been getting more attention as of late is the importance of both online and brick-and-mortar retail atmospheres. With major players such as Apple gaining traction in the space solely because of the retail atmosphere and shopping experience they’ve established, more merchants are starting to look not only at what they sell but how they sell goods and engage customers.
Establishing a brand relationship
Joseph Demeri, CEO of Exclusive Retail Interiors, recently spoke with Apparel Magazine about the importance of retail atmosphere and how many merchants are striving to improve their practices in this area.
“People need a reason for walking into a store,” Demeri told the source. “Consumers identify with the sights, sounds and even smell to associate themselves with a particular brand. The way a store looks from the outside, and what a customer sees, hears and smells when they go inside the store, greatly affects the retail experience.”
Retail atmosphere is all about crafting a brand relationship with customers. Anyone can sell a product, but a successful commodity-based business will make an experience out of it. A brand relationship enhances customer loyalty and ensures people come back for more, but even more importantly, it helps retailers stand out from the competition and provide their shoppers with something that others can’t easily replicate.
Improving retail atmosphere online and off
Although Demeri primarily discusses the creation of a retail atmosphere, there is no reason that a brand relationship can’t be applied to an online platform as well. Forbes contributor Matthew Carroll noted that establishing a unique online experience can be valuable to digital merchants because few of them take the steps to do just that. In fact, the overwhelming majority of online stores are designed to garner transactions, not to create an experience.
Merchants can start crafting a unique online experience by capitalizing on rich media that can help them tell stories that drive customer engagement. Content plays a pivotal role in this process, as content is the best digital conversation starter.
Many merchants have focused on the tangibles over the years. By using new eCommerce software that allows them to streamline various processes, commodity-based organizations try to expand their inventory selection or engage in price wars with others. In the ultra competitive merchant landscape, many major players have begun turning to retail atmosphere as the next battle ground, with companies striving to deliver a special shopping experience.
Of course, retailers still do need to rely on seamless eCommerce operations to help them deliver the promise of the customer experience. It doesn’t matter how well a store is arranged or a website is presented if people can’t find the right items or quickly finalize a purchase. Front-end and back-end operations both play a pivotal role in crafting the overall brand relationship, without having the means to deliver a satisfactory experience, retailers will be left with an empty promise for more.