From Service to Products, In-store Experiences Define Brick and Mortar in 2022

Keeping customers happy can feel a bit like juggling.

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As brick-and-mortar retailers, we must never lose sight of what the average customer wants. Keeping tabs on shoppers' most pressing needs is, more than anything else, the recipe for success.

Based on Raydiant's State of Consumer Behavior 2022 report, there are three factors that consumers today expect most from in-store experiences: value, good products and convenience. Within these general categories are more specific demands that every brick-and-mortar retailer should attend to.

With shoppers proving increasingly thrifty while shopping less and less, it's more important than ever for retailers to prioritize consumer needs. Retail sales have already shown symptoms of inflationary fatigue, and the most cynical pundits have described shopping as "painful" for consumers. While rising prices are certainly a challenge to retail success, trips to your store can still be a pleasant experience for your customers—rather than painful.

Taking shoppers' eyes off of rising prices requires compensating in other areas. All brick-and-mortar organizations should focus their attention and resources on the greatest desires of American consumers at this very moment.

Demand One: Shoppers Want Value

American consumers are feeling it at checkout counters and self-service kiosks. Based on most projections, prices will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, and perhaps even at an accelerating pace. Naturally, 31.5% of shoppers said that competitive prices are the surest way to get them into your store — the leading response by a good margin.

Re-evaluating where you can afford to deliver savings to customers is a must. Beyond the price tag, though, consider delivering non-traditional value to your shoppers through in-store experiences.

In a controlled study, evocative sensory experiences were found to increase in-store sales by as much as 10%. Something as simple as eye-catching or calming visuals on a digital sign alongside a featured product may work wonders. Creativity is a plus, and you may even work with brand partners to spruce up your stores.

When Johnnie Walker's Game of Thrones-themed White Walker Whisky was released, many stores displayed the bottles within attention-grabbing Game of Thrones set pieces. This cooperative marketing campaign generated an untold number of purchases simply by connecting with Game of Thrones fans in an exciting way.

Little touches like clever product promotion can be enough to lighten up a shopper's day and prompt a purchase that would otherwise not occur. The broader goal, though, is to infuse experiences throughout your stores that elevate the shopper's mood, providing additional benefits at a time when prices are too often a letdown.

Demand Two: Shoppers Want Good, Accessible Products

Budgetary crunches can mold shopper behaviors in different ways. Certain consumers will gravitate toward the bargain bin for every purchase they make. Others, however, may seek high-quality items they know they'll enjoy — even if this means purchasing fewer items in total.

As a retailer, you understand your consumer base best. Dollar General, for example, may continue to focus on providing the lowest possible prices to their value-conscious customers. Fresh Market, on the other hand, may want to continue offering its higher-end groceries while working to keep prices low on essentials like milk and eggs.

Deloitte explains that there are many available pricing strategies during inflationary times. In times where margins shrink and customers are spending less per visit, you can deploy a variety of approaches based on your organization's unique considerations.

What we know, though, is that consumers still value choice even when budgets are tight. Respondents cited "a broad availability of products" as the third-leading reason for them to choose a certain retailer; 31.9% said that product variety and selection most define whether an in-store experience is positive or not, which was the leading response.

Due to supply shortages and pricing concerns, retailers may not be able to stock everything they did during boom times. You may instead determine which products your consumers want the most and work to offer variety within your specific niches.

Demand Three: Shoppers Want Convenience

While delivering competitive prices for high-quality products may be priorities A and B right now, convenience should not fall by the wayside.

There were 23.8% of respondents who said they're more likely to visit a store that offers convenience, from product selection to checkout and fulfillment, than one that does not. While this may seem like an obvious reality, it is a reminder that the typical shopper will not tolerate confusing product arrangements, long lines, and other inconveniences.

Self-checkout kiosks, highly visible signage, and varied fulfillment and checkout options are layups for brands that want to ensure maximum convenience. When your associates aren't available — an unfortunately common reality amidst nationwide labor shortages — such self-service options will be.

Conclusion

Keeping customers happy can feel a bit like juggling. While it's not always easy accounting for pricing strategies, store design, product inventory, and new in-store technologies, the best retailers find a way to get it done consistently.

With shoppers making in-store trips sparingly and choosing retailers discerningly, you have no choice but to tailor your stores to reflect the consumer's demands. If you do this successfully, you could become a lifeline for shoppers who need it badly, and your organization may thrive as a result.

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