In an age when more and more businesses are moving to or being created online, one advantage brick-and-mortars have over online stores is their ability to create in-person experiences and atmospheres that can surprise and delight their customers. Experiences rife with human connection and sensory enjoyment simply aren’t able to be duplicated in the online space in the same way.
The key to creating those moments, according to the members of Young Entrepreneur Council, is playing to your store’s strengths. Below, they share specific strategies you can use to awe your customers and give them a truly memorable in-store experience.
Members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their advice for creating exceptional in-store experiences.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Create A Branded Social Media Moment
Make your store memorable by creating an easy social media “moment.” Adding a branded wall, a cool sign or a nice “Selfie Station” in your store is an easy way to boost in-store customer engagement while getting free online promotion for your space. In my massage therapy clinic, we have a lot of beautiful spaces that clients often take selfies in front of. I’ve seen a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses do this well with neon signs, plant walls, murals and interesting art. Make sure to include a branded spot on the wall so clients remember to tag your business in their posts. – Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage
2. Offer Samples Of Your Products
Who doesn’t love to sample? There’s a reason why big-box retailers like Sam’s Club leverage sampling as a primary way to drive sales; it’s a great way to increase impulse buying and the law of reciprocity (you did something for me so I’ll do something for you) and launch new or cool food products. If you aren’t in the food business, don’t fret. Leverage live models or product hosts to show off your products (think HSN and QVC). Imagine someone walking into your store to be greeted by a professional model showing off a new line of clothing. You can also hire a product host to set up live demonstrations. This will not only engage your customers and entertain them, but it will also encourage repeat customers. Trust me—my kids tell me every Sunday, “Hey Daddy, let’s go to Sam’s Club for samples.” – Kristopher Brian Jones, LSEO.com
3. Provide Stellar Customer Service
One advantage that brick-and-mortar stores have over online stores is the ability to provide quick customer service. In-person experiences allow store employees to quickly resolve customer issues and address concerns. This can create a feeling of surprise and delight for customers who may not expect such quick and attentive service. To take advantage of this, brick-and-mortar business leaders should ensure that their employees are trained to provide quick and efficient customer service. Additionally, they should make sure that there are adequate staff levels during peak periods so that customer needs can be met in a timely manner. By providing excellent customer service, brick-and-mortar businesses can create an atmosphere of surprise and delight for their customers. – Pratik Chaskar, Spectra
4. Personalize Human Interaction
There’s power in personalization. Remember the customer’s name, how many kids they have and what sports they play. A customer entering a brick-and-mortar store with someone saying “Hey John! It’s great to see you. How is Millie’s softball season going?” will outperform an online transaction any day of the week. In a screen-to-screen world, we often miss out on the personalized touch of human interaction. Brick-and-mortars have a chance to outperform any other sales channel by paying attention to their customers. If someone knows there is a warm hello and a handshake, they will more often than not choose the brick-and-mortar location over an online store. – Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo
5. Incorporate An Augmented Reality Experience
Augmented reality can help create astounding in-person experiences and environments that lead to customer delight. It helps you get the traction that your store needs by helping you reinvent in-store experiences. Retail is changing, with more consumers preferring online shopping with every passing day. Augmented reality helps evolve a mainstream brick-and-mortar store and transform it into the store of the future powered by gamification and interactive experience for the customers. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Offer Exclusive Products And Services
One way to create a unique and memorable experience for customers is to offer exclusive products or services that can only be found in your store. These could be anything from a limited edition item to a service that is only available at your location. By offering something unique, you can surprise and delight your customers, which will keep them coming back for more. To do this, you need to have a clear idea of what’s available in the market and what your customers are looking for. You also need to be willing to experiment and take risks. By offering something unique, you may find that you have a real winner on your hands. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
7. Appeal To The Five Senses
A simple way to enhance customer experiences is by appealing to the five senses. How does the brick-and-mortar location smell when people step inside? What do they hear? What can they touch? What do they see? If applicable, what can they taste? Try to cover all five of the senses to create an immersive brand experience that customers can’t find anywhere else. Did you know that Disney pumps specific fragrances into its theme parks to pique the sense of smell? Disney also plays different music depending on where guests are in its parks, and decorations change as well. Your brick-and-mortar location should communicate the essence of your brand through decor, music, scents and so on. Be unique and immersive so people can “live” your brand experience when they step through the doors. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com
8. Build A Rapport
One of the best ways to create an in-person experience that will surprise and delight your customers is to build a rapport with them from the beginning. This can be done by asking good questions that show you are interested in who they are and what they need. For example, you could ask them about their day, their favorite products or what brought them into the store. By taking the time to get to know your customers, you will be able to create a more personalized experience that will leave them feeling positive about their interactions with your business. – Adam Preiser, WPCrafter