If there is one thing we have learned over the years, it is that customers love convenience. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, this trend became even more apparent. This being the case, why is it that so many consumers are still flocking to support traditional brick & mortar stores? The answer is actually much simpler than you might think. They want the experience.
The minute lockdowns were lifted in their respective countries, shoppers rushed to their old haunts to get the purchasing experience that they have been deprived. As a result, physical store retailers have reported a rather strong year in 2021. This may come as a surprise to many as delivery options are still widely available. Of course, this does not mean that people are going to pivot away from the convenience offered by online retail and e-commerce. It simply means that consumers clearly valued the experience of getting out of the house and into retail stores.
Based on Raydiant’s State of Consumer Behavior 2021 Report, the in-store experience is an invaluable and irreplaceable part of the customer experience. 90 percent of shoppers are likely to return to your store if their in-store experience is positive — and especially if the experience is one-of-a-kind. As normalcy is expected to mostly return in 2022, physical retail will likely continue to appeal to the tastes of shoppers. Although, it is the retail stores that offer out-of-the-ordinary experiences that will see the most success in attracting repeat customers.
There are a number of growing trends that seem to attract the most customers to physical stores. These include:
As mentioned previously, consumers love convenience. And just because they are eager to return to physical stores doesn’t mean that they are looking for a less convenient experience. Delivering a convenient shopping experience means giving the consumer options. Self-service offerings by far provide customers with greater flexibility and options, and greater choice generally promotes a more convenient shopping experience. When the cashier-led checkout line stacks up, a self-checkout kiosk can relieve the bottleneck.
The Pick-Up Experience
Online deliveries may be convenient, but many consumers are more than happy to order items online and then go to pick them up themselves. Like self-service experiences, pick-up experiences are generally convenience-driven. Shrinking the time between a shopper’s purchase and the product’s availability for pickup is the next step in the online shopping experience.
A physical store presents businesses with an opportunity to truly immerse a customer in their brand while capturing every moment of their attention. This is something that online retail can’t match at present. While technologies such as VR may eventually allow online retail to provide a similar experience, such developments are still quite far off. For physical retail, something as simple as an interactive digital display can speak to the shopper in a way that they find immersive.
Brand-building experiences are a form of brand-experience marketing. The goal of this type of marketing is ‘to establish a deeper emotional connection and higher brand affinity’ between the retail organization and their shoppers. After all, live events and experiences are nothing like online video streams. Just like how live music events are a unique experience that can’t be gotten anywhere else, free live events, in-store displays featuring charitable partners and sponsored televised entertainment may all qualify as brand-building experiences.