Yes, the converse is also true: when you don’t make people feel they matter, they abandon your brand in droves, but that’s not the point of this post.
To make your in-store shopping experience more fun, engaging, and, let’s face it, better than shopping for your products from an online competitor, give shoppers the feeling they matter.
6 Ways How to Cultivate Your Brick-and-Mortar Store Culture
1. Cultivate a sense of humor like that best friend who makes you smile. Retail is about treating yourself or someone else to a present. It should be fun and not serious. You can interact with someone, show them a funny product, and ask, “Have you ever seen something so ridiculous?” You can find a way to laugh about something you said or a mistake you yourself made when buying something. Unless you know your shopper well or have mad skills in communication, you shouldn’t try to get a laugh at their expense, as it can easily backfire.
Practicing this would be a great exercise to work on in your daily huddle with your crew. You can ask them to share a customer exchange where there was laughter; you can role-play what someone could say about a product and ask for ideas to make shopping fun. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you do have to make sense of laughter relatable to your associates. Again, you don’t want laughter at the expense of others, but you do want it to make your job more fun.
2. Cultivate a sense of discovery, like spotting land after months at sea. Brick and mortar can capture a shopper’s imagination with unexpected items. Great merchandising, keeping your store uncluttered, and highlighting something extraordinary in an unexpected area of your store can all do this. A green dress featured near a baby stroller might be perfectly appropriate in-store but wacko online. That’s the point, and shoppers are open to distraction and discovery in-store, whereas online, they’re on a mission.
3. Cultivate a sense of belonging and familiarity, like shopping from your friend’s closet. This can be summed up in the Cheers TV show lyrics, which say, “You want to go where everyone knows your name.” The new norm is a relaxed and inviting store that is more of a living space than a retail space. Couches in the middle of the store where shoppers can read or have a beverage, musical instruments looking like a band just stopped playing, and a coffee bar in the corner all give a more relaxed vibe. Urban Outfitters does this well.
There’s a place for neat merchandise, but don’t make it neat for neat’s sake; a few jeans not folded perfectly on the table or a blouse draped across a display make it look like touching is encouraged, not forbidden. And lose those do not touch signs at once.
4. Cultivate a sense of pride like it's your store. When shoppers feel the merchandise, the lighting, and the personnel are welcoming and comfortable, they feel they belong. They look at your store as their store. That starts with giving your employees enough training and freedom to bring the best of themselves, the playful, the curious, and the empathic, to work daily. That is what happens when you have pride in, not an obligation to, your store.
5. Cultivate a sense of Awesome shoppers can’t wait to talk about. Raving fans have to go online and share their feelings and experiences. They don’t have to be incentivized with money; they want to share their discovery with their social tribe.
6. Include everybody. It’s all about treating everyone fairly, no matter where they come from or what they look like. For generations, we have been taught to lose our personalities and hide who we really are to fit in. But now, in business, you must encourage a mix of people with different ideas and experiences to innovate and grow. With more voices at the table, we can learn from each other and improve. And while it might be tough for Baby Boomers to embrace this new inclusive model, Gen Z really cares about this as table stakes in a business to work or do business with.
People don’t rave about average.
That’s a high mark to meet, but you’ll know you’re gaining ground by looking at your Facebook recommendations, your hashtag on Twitter, and your site traffic. Make sure you find ways to share the best recommendations and reviews prominently on your site and via your social network because new shoppers will believe a reviewer they’ve never met much more than they will trust your words about your customer service.
Knowing how to compete with Amazon and online retailers isn’t easy, but it is no different than competing against other brick-and-mortar retailers.
Until and unless you create an engaging shopping experience based on providing your shoppers with a sense of discovery, a sense of fun, a sense of belonging, and a sense of pride, you’re pretty much like 90% of your competition trying to make money from the same brands they are.
Crafting a retail strategy takes time and effort but so does any business worth giving your all.
And if you aren’t willing to give your all to it, it’s probably time for a change.