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Retailers failing to inspire customers in stores, says retail expert

According to a leading retail expert at Aston University, the slump some retailers are experiencing is due to a failure to create an inspirational customer experience

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More and more Brits are heading online rather than going to the high street, and research suggests this is because many find shopping stressful and don’t think visiting a shop is inspiring.

Professor Heiner Evanschitzky, Director of the Aston Centre for Retail Insights (ACRI) at Aston Business School, said: “Traditional retailers are attempting to compete with the rise of online shopping platforms on price - and are missing a trick in the process. What they need to focus on is something that online providers cannot easily replicate: an inspirational shopping experience. People browsing in stores should be met with an environment that is entertaining and informative, with a focus on showcasing products in unexpected combinations or contexts. Our research shows this can improve customer satisfaction and lead to an increase in sales per customer.”

According to Professor Evanschitzky, there are a number of strategies retailers can adopt to inspire their customers. He says there are two key factors that come into play when you try to inspire customers. Firstly, retailers must improve their store design and the way garments are displayed, and secondly, they should ensure sales staff spend their time interacting with customers, inspiring and advising them - not focusing on admin or things which can be done when there are no customers in store.

“Online is an important distribution channel and traditional retailers must embrace it,” says Evanschitzky. “But it is vital they also invest in improving their stores and equipping staff to help make shopping an enjoyable experience.”

For instance, digital technology such as an IPad, or similar, can be used to show different ways a design can be worn, as well as presenting a catalogue of products you don’t have on display but could order in. Magic mirrors are becoming increasingly popular in store too, and can really enhance the shopping experience making it more enjoyable for brides. Just make sure your staff are fully trained on all new products and confident on all the ways they can be used to interact and inspire customers.

“There is still an important role for the physical store to play, and we can already see online retailers such as Amazon approaching this from the other side. By moving offline and creating a physical presence, they are acknowledging that physical interaction with customers is a golden opportunity to inspire them and ensure they find the right products.”

When brides-to-be go dress shopping, they want the best experience possible. They expect everything to be stress-free and fun, so including technology will not only make it easier for your staff to inspire brides, it’ll make the customer’s visit enjoyable, different and even more memorable.

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