EXPERT ROUND-UP: HOW TO INCREASE CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT IN BRICK AND MORTAR STORES
The retail sector seems to slowly get back on track after the hit it received during the pandemic. While online retailers saw a rise in sales, many brick-and-mortar stores were closed or restricted.
People preferred to shop online and receive their orders right at the front steps. However, this is beginning to change because people miss something that only physical stores can offer: the complete shopping experience.
In this expert round-up we asked retail experts, brand managers, and marketing specialists:
- how can brick and mortar stores increase customer engagement;
- what shopper marketing tactics to use;
- and what part does technology play in customer engagement.
Their answers will help you find the right mix for your shopper marketing strategy, learn more about what customers are really looking for while shopping in-store, and how to put technology to great use.
Customer engagement: Brick and mortar retailers vs eCommerce platforms
In simple words, customer engagement shows the relationship between a consumer and a brand/retailer. However, this is much more than that. Customer engagement is the one that can make it or break it when it comes to sales. If shoppers are not engaged while in-store, they will definitely move on to your competitor and leave your store empty-handed.
While eCommerce stores have so many options to interact with shoppers and attract them, brick and mortar stores are left with little to no options. However, physical stores have something special that eCommerce platforms can’t replicate: real-life interactions.
“The most significant benefit that physical retailers have over e-retailers is the ability to communicate with consumers in a variety of ways: tactile, visual, auditory, and even human. Physical stores can have something that online retailers cannot: the ability for consumers to touch, feel, and try out goods while still engaging in their surroundings. It must be worthwhile for them to get up and away from their screens.” — Chana Charach, Managing Editor at Income.ca
Like Chana Charach mentioned above, stores need to take advantage of their ability to trigger consumers on different levels. The whole atmosphere of the store plays an important role in the purchasing process.
As you know, shopping is an emotional process and every purchase decision is based on emotion.
“Make sure your store is playing a very focused and complementary role as part of your total shopping ecosystem.”- Bruce Vierck, Partner at The Retaility Group
Another important thing to remember is that your store is part of the shopping ecosystem, it is a piece that plays a role. You need to know and understand how your store can fill a gap and offer shoppers what they are looking for.
“Increasing customer engagement relies first and foremost on knowing what the customer wants, and how to deliver it to them. At present, this is even more challenging and perhaps interesting than usual, as we begin to come out of the other side of the pandemic. Shoppers are keen to return to stores and get back to “normal,” but many people also still have concerns about safety and the risk inherent in this.” — Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds
While the pandemic seems to be one foot out the door, people still have safety concerns. Before COVID-19 customer engagement meant offering customers amazing experiences. Now, you need to add a layer of hygiene and safety to those experiences.
Shopper marketing — the best type of marketing for increasing customer engagement
Shopper marketing is a “younger” form of marketing compared to retail and trade marketing. While traditional marketing focuses on the product and selling more, shopper marketing makes the customer the center of attention. By using shopper marketing, you have the opportunity to increase customer engagement and to make shoppers feel special.
There are different shopper marketing tactics that you can try to see if they are a great match for your store and your shoppers, of course.
“Video is so effective at the point of purchase that shoppers take their phones into physical stores to check product reviews on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. In fact, in-store shoppers use video at a rate of 55% according to research conducted by Google. This means that out of every two shoppers that enter your store, at least one of them will research videos about your products.” — Nichole Elizabeth DeMer, Chief Marketing Officer at Reeview.app
While you might think that in-store marketing and promotions are your only options, you need to take into account the channels shoppers use to research your products. Social media is booming right now and while you might not perform digital marketing, you still need to have a social media presence.
“This social media engagement is driving more traffic to their socials, website, and footfall to their store. With the popularity of video and influencer marketing skyrocketing, this type of “photogenic” brand marketing will only increase.” — Clare Jones, Outreach Manager at Custom Neon
Your social media presence might come from an unexpected source: your customers. Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful type of marketing. By making your promotions “photogenic”, as Clare Jones mentioned, you have the opportunity to transform your shoppers into your biggest advocates.
An in-store marketing solution like Tokinomo is definitely a showstopper. Many in-store promotions implemented with Tokinomo went viral on social media thanks to shoppers who filmed and shared them.