How to Create a Better In-Store Experience in Retail Sales

A positive experience keeps shoppers in your retail space longer and creates repeat buyers. Learn best practices to shape your in-store experience.

Published on 31 March, 2017 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
Retail store printing

As a retailer, you know how important the in-store experience is. Companies spend countless dollars each year to evaluate what happens inside their walls. It not only affects the bottom line, but your store’s image and brand as well.

Customer loyalty can be gained or lost beginning at the moment customer steps foot in your store. If the experience is poor, your customers are likely not to come back and, even worse, they could tell their friends and family not to visit, too.

In fact, disappointed shoppers cost retailers $150 billion in potential revenue last year. If the in-store experience is positive, however, you have repeat customers and money in your pocket.

Veer from the big box store mentality to create a more personal shopping experience for your customers. Personal, of course, means friendly service, but it also includes other creative solutions:

Keep Your Brand Consistent

For starters, think of three adjectives you want your in-store experience to portray. The words should be consistent with your company’s brand and values.

Think about the look of your product. Is the packaging streamlined? Colorful? Fancy? Think of your target audience. Are your customers primarily men or women?

Perhaps those adjectives are:  inviting, comfortable, and eclectic. Then brainstorm displays, decorations, furniture and storage solutions for a more inviting experience. Maybe you have a pair of ultra-comfy chairs by the dressing rooms to create your comfortable vibe.

Please with Aesthetics

Make your store a feast for the eyes. Your store should look full, with lots of inventory on display. Make sure the store has visually appealing displays that move people around the store. It may seem simple, but the more attractive your store is, the more customers will enter, creating more opportunities for them to purchase your products.

Create hierarchy with your displays and use bold colors to draw attention to your inventory. Avoid just laying products on flat surfaces.

For example, Anthropologie hires in-store artists to create beautiful displays. They consistently use natural materials such as wood and foliage to enhance their customers’ shopping experience. During the spring and summer season, when featuring a safari-inspired clothing line, the in-house artist sculpted an elephant out of starched fabric. The display was a focal point of the store and drew in many customers, some of which bought the clothes and some who also asked how they could purchase the elephant sculpture.

Feature Local Goods

Have a special area of your store reserved for local products. A donut shop might brew a local cafe’s signature blend coffee and also sell the beans. Local businesses working together foster lucrative relationships.

Displaying local products shows that you care about the community you serve. You know the zip code and its people. Customers feel like your understand them. Local consciousness brings in a well-informed customer base.

Get Artsy

Continue the local connection and invite local artists, musicians, and artisans to enhance your customers’ in-store experience. Perhaps you own a restaurant that can display (and sell) the work of local artists. The art decorates your walls and shows you care about the local arts community.

Creating memorable experiences will draw customers in and keep them coming back. Think about how people celebrate traditions. For a holiday shopping experience, carolers bring a happy vibe. Local chefs can prepare tasty treats for your store’s annual open house.

Create a Better In-Store Experience with these Best Practices

Signage is Key

Signage is one of the more obvious ways to impactfully represent your brand. Long-term signage should be printed in high quality. Think about short-term signage as well, ones that promote sales and other special promotions.

All signage should be consistent with the image you want to convey. For example, it would be consistent for an electronic store to use a digital screen to display ongoing sales and announcements, and an artisan olive oil company could use a rustic paperboard display to advertise short-term sale items. Use your own products when available.

People Will Make or Break You

It is paramount to have knowledgeable and friendly staff, but think past the basic salesperson. Managers need to be at the top of their game. Have them ask questions and actually listen to the answers. Many restaurant managers walk around to the tables to make sure diners are having a good experience. But are they actually listening to what the diners are saying? Some managers start moving off to the next table before the customers have even finished responding.

People want to feel heard. They matter. Your customers are your livelihood. Heed all feedback.

Make the Purchase Experience Special

Paying shouldn’t be a chore. Think about how to thank your customers in a special way with your check-out experience. You might provide free gift wrapping with your company’s logo. Your bag could also advertise your brand. Employees should be friendly and also ask important questions. The most important one? “How was your shopping experience?”

Evaluate Your In-Store Experience

Hire a focus group or unbiased third party, such as a mystery shopper, to come and experience shopping in your store. Have them answer a survey and give you feedback about the store’s appearance and customer service. What did they notice? Did any specific inventory jump out at them? How would they rate their shopping experience?

As you can see, there are countless ways to create a better in-store experience. Remember that your store and your employees are a reflection of your company. Make sure your store’s shopping experience is an extension of you.

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