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Customers Crave Immersive Experiences

As retailers we are compared against the convenience of online shopping and we need to have a better alternative to shopping from the kitchen table.  We must differentiate!  That said, we can provide a great outlet for customers to get an experience with your products and in your retail space that they could not possibly get online.  Find new ways to allow the customers to interact with your products. Sometimes it can be a small screen located at a strategic place that customers can’t help but see a live demonstration of the products.  The spend for these LED screens have dropped dramatically and allows a first step to generate interest and then move to investigating your products.  Allow at least one product to be available for the customer to try it out, see how it looks, and become comfortable with their purchase.  The more immersive we can be, the more likely that we will build our brand, drive sales, and loyalty.

People crave instant gratification.

I remember when you had to drive to the local video store to rent the latest movie release. And, oh how we prayed that it wouldn’t be rented out already! I even remember the pre-DVD/VCR days (back in the 1900s) when we had to wait for a movie to come on TV to watch it. I can recall the early days of everyone getting a microwave oven and being amazed at how quickly they could make popcorn, boil water, reheat a meal. Nowadays, I’m grumpy if my phone service isn’t at lightning speed or there are more than 2 cars in the drive-thru or the self-checkout at the grocery store is backed up.

Your customers crave immediate gratification, too.

People are conditioned these days for immediate responses. Because it’s readily available in so many areas of our lives, we want it EVERYWHERE. And it really doesn’t matter how kind or patient or carefree they are, your customers want what they want. And what they don’t want is to spend a lot of time NOT getting what they want. They want their questions answered; they want to find what they’re looking for; they want to be in and out without delay. If you’ve spent any time at all on-line looking at reviews, you’ll find that customers don’t consider these things inconveniences, they find them inexcusable. And they judge your store based on their shopping experience being diminished. Fair or not, your customers can feel “mistreated” and can walk away from your store with a negative feeling.

Look for ways to scratch the “want it now” itch.

How can you help customers find what they need quicker and easier? More signage? Clearer displays? How can you streamline the checkout process for ease and speed? Think of the kinds of businesses that you like to frequent. Think of what they are doing right and best. Think of why you like to shop there. Think like a patron as you seek to find solutions to your own store’s shortcomings.

Keep quality in mind.

You don’t want to sacrifice quality for the sake of speed or ease. Customers still consider a great product or a top-notch service as their primary consideration when purchasing. So your job isn’t to JUST hurry people through; it’s to make the wait enjoyable – to make them not notice that they’re having to wait a bit. Streamline the process, and make the process pleasant.

Consider implementing speed bumps.

No, not ACTUAL speed bumps, just metaphorical ones. Ways to slow shoppers down. While we all have the instant gratification gene in us, we also have the free will to stop and look at something or do something that we are drawn to. For instance, my husband and I love to visit the big box stores here in town. They have the massive quantities of peanut butter and toilet paper and dry goods our big family needs. They also have big beautiful displays of their latest products. They also always have food samples constantly going. So, while we load up big batches of olive oil and almond butter and ponder if we need a massive 30-foot unicorn float, we can also gnosh on crab wontons and fried pickles. Win-win. Meanwhile, we forgot all about the fact that we just came in to grab a quick item.

What speed bumps would work best for your business?

How could you slow your customers down – not just delay them but engage them? How could you do it in a way that they wouldn’t see it as a disruption, but an enjoyment? Our local coffee shop has an ever-changing mural on its wall near the service line. It’s made up of rolled up pieces of colored paper that are inserted into tiny holes in the mural and that make up a larger stunning picture. Patrons are invited to write jokes, prayers, blessings, thoughts down on the strips of paper and insert them into the tiny holes, making their small writings a part of the art. Genius! People don’t even notice that they are actually waiting in line! There are a thousand ways to divert your customers’ attention from their inconvenience to your benefit. A clothing store could demo a seasonal capsule-building. A hardware store could have a game built out of nuts and bolts and more for customers to tinker with. The ideas are endless if you put your thinking cap on!