3 Retail Strategies That Get Shoppers In Store
The pressure is on for brick-and-mortar stores that are now forced to deal with time-poor, bargain-hungry customers and online competitors.
As well as online stores offering the same or similar products at considerably lower prices, the increased access to the web via smartphones has led to trends such as showrooming, where people actually check out products in a store before buying them online.
The Creative Director of digital agency Dotfusion, Reily McMeekin, says this strategy is likely to become the norm and traditional stores need to “differentiate their stores from the online marketplace” in order to survive.
“Retailers can do this by focusing on creating an in-store experience that cannot be recreated online, and offer additional services for its customers,” he writes for the company’s blog.
Retailers have responded to the change by developing both new and revived strategies to keep customers coming back to physical stores – and spending more money there – instead of shopping elsewhere.
From season launch parties to shopping centre events and the introduction of established overseas stores on our shores, here we take a look at three of the key strategies helping the traditional retail industry keep its head above water.
While loyalty programs have been around for ages, the last few years has seen retailers dust off this strategy to help boost sales.
Big stores and brands such as Myer, Mimco, Jeans West, Strandbags, Priceline and even TEDs Camera Warehouse all have loyalty programs with shiny cards that can earn you credits towards your shopping with them, as well as other in-store benefits like complimentary gift wrapping or special events. Other stores, such as Kikki K and H&M offer newsletter-based reward programs and send out special offers throughout the year.
According to the director of US consultancy firm McKinsey Marketing and Sales, Marc Singer, successful programs will use all shopping channels to keep customers engaged.
“Loyalty programs are not only growing, but they are also becoming more tightly integrated with the supporting brand and shopping experience, offering consumers a seamless experience across point of sale, the Internet, phone and mobile channels.”
Think exclusive sales vouchers that can be redeemed with a card, a printed voucher or a mobile download, as well as unique offers for online and traditional store outlets. In a company blog post on the subject, Singer says the biggest challenge for retailers is to boost sales while also giving customers something different from the norm.
The introduction of popular international retailers in Australia has been the biggest boost for the industry in recent years. The launch of fast fashion chains H&M and Zara, as well as UK fashion giant Topshop, saw hundreds and thousands of shoppers flock to openings in capital cities around the country.
One of the most recent launches of an international brand – cosmetic chain Sephora – actually broke records at Westfield Sydney in December 2014.
“Our Sydney launch has broken sales records for any SEPHORA opening, and the atmosphere in store is simply electric,” SEPHORA Australia Country Manager, Fiona Novak, says in a press release about the launch.
“While our brand DNA is all about letting our customers explore, sample and discover, with no pressure to buy, buy they did in record breaking numbers!”
The hype has continued as all of these stores expand from fashion centres in Sydney and Melbourne to other locations, proving that people will still go to an actual store – especially when it is something new to the region but established elsewhere.
As these big name brands continue to expand, the influx of people means other stores in the area also have a chance to get more business, boosting the industry as a whole. Whether or not other retailers are cashing in on this trend, however, remains to be seen.
Whether it is a season launch party, a special sale or an opportunity to get made over, VIP and special events are growing in popularity with a range of retailers.
Australian hair salon Oscar Oscar, for example, runs master classes and other events at salons in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, often providing drinks and gift bags as added bonuses.
Similarly, Priceline runs events throughout the year, often hosting beauty Q&A sessions, make overs and tutorials. Australian boutique retailer Sambag, on the other hand, has organised new season launches in some of its stores, featuring complimentary champagne and sweets to help bring customers in and engage them in conversation about the new fashion trends.
These kinds of unique and exclusive events are also being taken up by shopping centres. Southern hemisphere giant Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne, for example, hosts VIP Shopping Party events throughout the year, with discounts, samplings and live entertainment throughout the day. Like a giant email-based rewards program, the Chadstone VIP program entices people to “join the A-List” by signing up.
“It’s quick and simple to become a Chadstone VIP member, but the benefits are endless: enjoy runway shows, member rewards, one-off events, money-can’t-buy experiences and much more.
“Plus, you’ll receive special e-news updates with special offers and style tips. Enjoy the benefits, during Christmas and every day of the year.”
Westfield shopping centres also run events and competitions to engage with shoppers, often collaborating with specific retailers to promote different experiences. The Valentine’s Day @_mimco event and the Heart Tree Polaroid picture experience at Westfield Bondi Junction are just two recent examples.
The response to these kinds of events is positive across the board, suggesting it really is a way for bricks-and-mortar retailers to get an edge over their online counterparts and give customers a much more interesting experience.
While many people associate online shopping with savings and convenience, traditional retailers can still provide a range of benefits for shoppers. And more and more of the success stories told by physical stores are tied up in strategies like the four above, suggesting it is differences in experience that will lead to a balance between stores and screens.