It’s not about just selling products anymore and retailers who offer the best in-store experience will be the winners, says Andy Tow, managing director of Retail Marketing Group
With more access to the latest products, consumers are empowered to conduct independent research and purchases online, putting in-store retailers under greater pressure, but also providing a fantastic opportunity to differentiate.
The modern store can no longer be a place that simply sells products. In this new, consumer-driven economy, experience matters more than ever and it will be the retailers and brands that innovate in this area that will lead the way.
The secret lies in giving people something that online shopping never will – a more emotive experience that invokes a sense of excitement. This comes with having experienced brand ambassadors on the shopfloor who can demonstrate a passion for the product.
Bringing the product to life
When people are buying electrical items, it’s all too easy to get swamped with information on product features and specifications online. In our primary research, the top three reasons consumers give for shopping in-store indicate that they want to experience a product before purchasing. Just over half (51 per cent) prefer to go and look at a product, 27 per cent want to check its quality and 24 per cent want to feel and use the product before buying.
Shopping in-store provides a sense of confidence and reassurance that is absent from the online experience. Product demonstrations transform a shop into a showroom, allowing shoppers to gain a greater understanding of how a product operates, as well as a far clearer idea of how it may positively impact their own lives. A brand ambassador, with far reaching knowledge of the product, can demonstrate the features to really bring it to life, and show their own real-life experiences with the product itself.
Here are three examples of creating emotional connections through product demonstrations:
• To demonstrate the quality of sound with items such as headphones or speakers, share the music, memories and experiences that remind the consumer of events in their life – perhaps a classical piece from their wedding or a pop song from their youth. Taking them on this journey will create a stronger emotional connection to the product;
• Get the product in consumers’ hands, let them feel the quality, try it out for themselves and enjoy it without interruption. Give them time with the product, rather than barraging them with information from the outset;
• Create a real-life setting – whether that’s by putting fake food in a fridge-freezer or a load of washing in a tumble-dryer. Take the wonder of the product away and run through the basics of how it will work for the consumer in their own lives.
Listen to the customer
How can brand ambassadors be so powerfully influential in customer decision-making? It all comes down to allowing the consumer to talk about themselves.
Perhaps they haven’t experienced the product before and are unsure about how often they’ll use it, or how it will work in their current lifestyle?
By letting the consumer lead with questions and listening to their requirements, a brand ambassador can personalise the experience for them.
Here are three ways that an in-store brand ambassador can create a personalised experience for the consumer:
• Take them on a journey by demonstrating the product, while asking questions along the way. Avoid technical jargon and match the product features to the consumer’s lifestyle. Taking on board what the customer has said will make them feel they are in safe hands and will be ready to trust the recommendation;
• Be prepared to share first-hand experiences of the product. People buy from people, so creating this rapport will make the consumer feel that the brand being represented has their best interests at heart;
• Bring passion to the product in a genuine way. The consumer will get a sense of this energy and enthusiasm and, as a result, will be more engaged with the product.
Independent electrical retailers have the opportunity to create environments that truly inspire the consumer, giving them an outstanding retail experience and creating positive and lasting memories that will encourage repeat visits.
With so many consumers seeking an in-store experience to gain clarity amid hordes of online information and to try electrical items before purchase, the race is on for brands to elevate themselves in a crowded marketplace.
Captivating the mind of the consumer is best achieved by creating a more immersive showroom. Such an interactive and fun experience is established ideally through product demonstrations, tailored information and explanations of often complicated new technology.