Brick-and-Mortar stores need to invest in an in store demo campaign. It’s the only way to differentiate and separate themselves from the convenience of online shopping. As the horse of E-Commerce gallops along, Brick-and-Mortar stores are struggling to keep up. Yet, they’re not pressing their advantage over the E-Commerce business. Brick-and-Mortar stores don’t just sell products; they sell an experience.
Customers often dread coming to physical stores today. That needs to change.
Brick-and-Mortar Stores Need to Leverage Their Advantage
Customers hate coming to stores because they now have the option to get items delivered to their homes. They don’t have to waste money on gas or their valuable time. Yet, for physical stores, pivoting to that model is both expensive and time-intensive.
It’s no wonder that UBS has forecast 80,000 more US stores closing by 2026.
So, what can the average physical store owner do to improve customer experience?
The reason E-Commerce is winning today is that it provides convenience to customers. The equivalent of that for physical stores isn’t to put their products online. It’s to press their advantage and create a tremendous physical shopping experience.
In Store Sampling: The Charm of Brick-and-Mortar Stores
According to Giovanni DeMeo, Executive Partner, Gartner Chief Marketing Executives, in-store experiences boost sales.
“When we compare it to other in-store mediums … in-store product demonstration has the highest [sales] lift,”
According to an article in The Atlantic, Costco’s sales gained a boost mostly due to product demos. This approach is obviously fruitful for a retail chain that sells groceries. It’s also obviously advantageous for clothing and shoe store chains. These are all things customers like to buy in person.
However, in-store demos can also work for other things like electronics, jewelry, and self-care products. It’s something called Experiential Marketing. The idea is to create an experience within a physical store that impresses the customer.
In effect, customers want to come back, not just to replenish products but also for the experience. That’s something special that can’t be replicated (yet) online.
These Businesses Have Already Experimented with In-Store Experiential Marketing
This approach is not a novel concept. There are businesses out there that have been investing in experiential marketing for years now.
A clear example of in store sampling done right is the Body Shop on New Bond Street in London. It is a store where you can find any grooming materials and an “oasis of calm.”
Of course, shoppers can test various products for sale, including lotions, makeup, and ointments. However, they can also receive hand massages while listening to stories at the “story table” That is a relaxing, rejuvenating experience that anyone can look forward to.
Another example is the Apple Store. Apple’s stores are iconic and unique. They present an opportunity to enter another world and test Apple’s products. They have successfully created an environment that people congregate around. That’s why their stores have been called “Town Squares.”
Nordstrom’s flagship store in New York has taken the service route to create a great customer experience. You can get stroller cleaning, online order pickups, alterations, personal styling, and gift wrapping at the store. There is even a brow bar and seven dining options right in the store.
What these stores do and have been doing has created a charm to their in-store activities. People don’t just need to go to their stores; they want to go. Otherwise, they can order online. Physical stores must embrace their big positives and repeatedly sell the in-store customer experience.