Ongoing evolution in the retail industry—including near-global access to the Internet and speedy adoption rates of smartphones—is forcing retailers to create a brick-and-mortar shopping experience that rivals the convenience and immediacy of the Internet. As a result, hundreds of retailers in thousands of locations are committing capital to renovating stores for an enhanced overall customer experience. Retailers should consider these three key questions when defining the type and magnitude of renovations to enhance their customers’ experiences:
1. Are we offering an omni-channel experience? Retailers striving to build a true omni-channel experience are merging at-home, in-store and mobile commerce into one seamless shopping experience. Customers want continuity, so the look and feel of every channel, from mobile to desktop to in-store, should be the same.
For example, AMC Theatres recently added an expanded food and beverage menu to concession stands and replaced conventional movie chairs with wide, comfortable recliners. In addition, AMC began offering guests the opportunity to buy tickets online—and reserve actual seats at the theatre—before arriving. The omni-channel experience of buying tickets online translates to a brick-and-mortar customer experience unrivalled in the entertainment industry. In fact, AMC sells more tickets with fewer seats – to sold out audiences.
2. Are we leveraging the right technology? To keep people in their stores, smart retailers are making their locations interactive and engaging with the right technology. Tablets and smartphones can be used to promote convenience by taking customer payments rather than making them wait in line, demonstrate product features, offer more item options and encourage social sharing. In addition to tablets, the use of large displays purposefully engross customers, making them forget they’re inside a store.
3. Are we collecting actionable data to help personalize the customer experience? An Infogroup Targeting Solutions study found that 54 percent of marketers have already invested in data solutions to date, and nine out of 10 plan to do so in 2014. Smart retailers know that truly personalized experiences are only possible when customer information about behavior, history and whereabouts is gathered. Collecting this actionable data through customer loyalty programs, point of sale data and online shopping behavior ultimately enables retailers to implement dynamic browsing, customized displays, personalized recommendations and shopper-specific discounts.
JLL and Food Lion collected data that revealed that the grocer’s customers were increasingly focused on produce. Based on that finding, Food Lion wasted no time renovating its stores to better position its produce offerings and, in the process, enhancing the overall customer experience.
In addition to the renovation work completed at AMC and Food Lion, smart retailers can enhance the customer experience and ultimately maximize return on investment of store renovations with modified layouts, in-store kiosks, virtual walls, virtual dressing rooms, augmented reality and new product offerings.
Customer experience is individual to each retailer and the clients they target. It’s crucial for retailers to ask the right questions and understand the role big data, technology and the omni-channel experience play in their overarching strategy so the appropriate renovations programs can be developed.
By Steve Jones, Lead of Retail Project & Development Services, JLL