immersive retail experiences

How to Create a Great In-Store Experience: #QminderAsks

Did you know that 86% of US retail sales still happen in brick-and-mortar stores?

We’ve been hearing many speculations about e-commerce stores being the end of retail brick-and-mortar. What we’re seeing instead, however, is that big e-tailers like Amazon are opening physical stores.

This makes us think that there is something special in shopping physically that still keeps resisting the digital conquer.

In our previous article, we mentioned that online and offline stores should not be the case of “one or the other” but rather a scenario of working together for the best possible result, especially in times where omnichannel is an essential channel of choice, regardless of the generation.

So if people can get a product from an e-commerce website, then what is it that keeps them returning to the physical store? The answer is the in-store experience.

Physical shopping is something that gives customers the opportunity to feel and interact with the product while letting the store owners show the visitors that they are offering more than just a product.

With that said, how to create a quality in-store experience? To give you the best possible answer, we’ve contacted some experts and discussed topics like:

  • Reasons customers shop in physical stores instead of shopping online.
  • Importance of timely service for a good in-store experience.
  • Ways to keep customers engaged in your store.
  • Will in-store shopping keep existing?

Why do customers keep shopping in physical stores instead of shopping online?

offer good store experiences

Even though we briefly mentioned the reasons why, despite the existence of e-commerce stores, customers keep shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, we’ve asked experts the same questions, to get a better sense of things.

“Customers still prefer shopping in physical stores instead of online shopping because of reliability issues. They want to see how the product actually looks or feels like which is not possible online.

Also, some people are apprehensive about giving away their credit card information online. They find in-store shopping experience more secure.”

William Taylor, Career Development Officer at MintResume

“Mainly because of the real-time, face to face interaction with the customer service as well as the products they wish to purchase.

Many customers still place a lot of value in physically seeing and handling the product before purchasing as well as being able to speak directly with a customer care rep.”

Joe Bailey, Business Development Consultant at My Trading Skills

“Instant gratification - No matter how simple Zappos and Amazon make returns - the reward centers of our brain can’t seem to kick the joy of picking up that new pair of shoes in person. Taking them home same day lets us check something off our list, giving us a sense of accomplishment and a joy for having something new in hand.

Human connection - Retail Therapy is real. Memes like “There is nothing that you need at Target today” are a reflection of today’s shopper’s behavior. The online experience cannot match the experience of pushing a shopping cart through the store with music playing gently in the background.

Expertise -When we make mid to large consideration purchases, this interaction and connection become even more important. With my clients that sell jewelry, cars, boats, and education (high value, mid-high consideration purchases) - they all see how customer service from a real human being affects sales volume and profitability margin.”

Virginia Case, CEO of StraTac Marketing

How important is timely service for a good in-store experience?

provide faster customer service

Timely service is something that today’s consumers almost unanimously are asking for, regardless if they are shopping online or at a brick-and-mortar store.

But how important is it, exactly? And what can be the consequences of slow service?

To ensure a good in-store experience, it’s essential to provide timely service as customers today are more demanding than before. They are always in a hurry and juggling many tasks at once. And, as they say, ‘Time is money’, so you shouldn’t keep them waiting.

Plus, customers today have so many options that they’d prefer abandoning your business for the one that offers them quick services.”

William Taylor, Career Development Officer at MintResume

“Customer service is crucial. You need to have timely responses in-store and on-line. We have a fast-moving consumer and the service needs to move with it.

John Crossman, CEO of Crossman & Company

“Timely service and more so, excellent service is absolutely vital in order for brick-and-mortar stores to maintain their market share and avoid losing trade to online competitors.

The consumer’s takeaways and impressions of the store are just as important as, or even more so than, the goods they see and buy there.”

Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds

“If you ever needed proof that we’re in a rush - look at the proliferation of self-checkouts in today’s marketplace.

There’s nothing that will make customers question “do I really need this” faster than standing in a long line waiting for help.”

Virginia Case, CEO of StraTac Marketing

The main reason for the long service is the long queue your customers have to stand in until they finalize their purchase.

This is one of the most harmful reasons for the wait because the customer is required to stand in the queue making the wait more dull and irritating.

As the responders mentioned, customers today have an abundance of alternatives and long service at your location can be the reason of them shopping at your competitor’s location next time.

Implementing Qminder, a digital wait line manager that offers self sign-in iPad software with an Apple TV app, lets you:

  • Show relevant queueing information, such as the number of people waiting in a queue.
  • Provide clear guidance about the next step your visitor needs to go through.

best queue management system

Thus, Qminder offers you the best way to cut the long waiting times and enhance the whole visitor experience at your location.

Qminder also offers SMS feature that lets you send out personal invitation messages and notify your visitors about their upcoming turn.

This will free customers from not only standing in queues but also the waiting factor. Now, they don’t have to stand aimlessly in line; they can move around your shop and be informed about their turn without worrying about missing their turn.

All these steps with Qminder make the waiting less stressful and help create the great in-store experiences we’ve covered in this article.

What are the ways to keep customers engaged in your store?

Why is it important to engage customers at your shop? Let’s have a look at the statistics:

  • Engaged customers purchase 90% more frequently.
  • They spend 300% more per year, compared to other customers.
  • They are 5 times more likely to choose your shop during their future purchase.

This means that you should be aiming for engaging as many customers as possible and making sure that there is an emotional bond between them and your company as it will result in increased profit. But how exactly can you do that?

“To keep customers engaged when in-store, you have to:

-Direct the customer journey, and create incentives for them to linger for longer; -Explore new product lines; -And generally, enjoy and find value from the experience.

This means assessing everything from the impression given by the:

- Storefront itself. - The lighting. - Feeling and style of the store. - The presentation of the employees. - And the tone and approach taken to shoppers.

How this looks will be very different for different types of businesses, but once more comes down to personalization, which in turn, means knowing your core demographics and what they want and respond to.

If you can’t speak confidently and in-depth about this, you won’t be able to offer it and so, run the risk of losing trade to online competitors.”

Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds

“Provide informed, helpful, courteous staff that are trained to know when to engage, when to hover, and when to leave well enough alone.

There’s nothing like going to Home Depot and being interrupted endlessly while trying to pick light bulbs. Consider that in contrast to being at Apple buying a new computer.

Friendly staff goes a long way - train them to smile, fully understand your products and inventory, and engage with customers without pestering them.”

Virginia Case, CEO of StraTac Marketing

Will in-store shopping keep existing?

how to improve in-store experience

Responders agree that physical shopping will keep lingering. However, they will need to change in order to keep attracting customers and being able to compete with online retailers.

For some types of goods and services, real-world retail is unlikely to fall to the onwards march of eCommerce any time soon.

For instance, businesses selling goods like fragrances or cakes that are:

- Perishable - Personal - Benefit from being experienced before purchase - Or services such as personal training or coaching (which simply doesn’t have the same impact when delivered remotely).

Such businesses are likely to continue to thrive.

However, for other types of stores, to continue to compete with online alternatives, you have to be able to offer something that they cannot and work proactively to maintain it.

Whether this be the feel-good factor of shopping locally, a great in-store experience that is more akin to retailtainment than shopping, or something else entirely, if you can keep your edge, you can keep your trade.”

Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds

“While it’s always difficult to speculate if retail will continue to exist as a whole entity, with upcoming integrations of technology that we are seeing and future projections it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Although many of us turn to e-commerce for our shopping needs, there will always be those of us who seek an in-house experience, crave experiential shopping, and are in need of a quick-fix.

Tourism shopping is also a consideration that we can always count on, which makes a complete lack of retail seem extremely farfetched.”

Beverly Friedmann, Content Manager at ReviewingThis

“Yes. Unequivocally yes. Driving to the store will almost certainly always be faster than completing the purchase online, waiting for a robot to box your product and a drone to deliver it to your doorstep.

The challenge for most retailers will be to create products that incite our interest and compel our impulse to “buy now” rather than comparison shop.

A clean, well-stocked shop with friendly, smiling staff, will continue to attract customers well into the future.”

Virginia Case, CEO of StraTac Marketing

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Once again, we’ve confirmed the reasons for people shopping at brick-and-mortar stores and how to make the shopping more engaging so that the customers will keep returning, regardless of the e-commerce convenience.

The fact that many experts predict that physical shopping will still exist but with a different purpose means that you need to reconsider how you want your store to continue operation, if you haven’t done so already.

Digitizing the customer journey process is one of the ways to enhance your in-store experience. And digitizing your queue management with Qminder is the best way to enhance the disturbing long waiting lines.

Not sure? Try a 14-day free trial with unlimited access to Qminder features! Start changing your store in a way that will keep attracting customers in this digital environment.

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