The cautious reopening of stores across the retail landscape has been met with a warm reception by consumers eager to once again interact with the world outside their front doors. But there are surprises in store for business owners expecting a return to the consumer shopping trends of the pre-COVID-19 pandemic world. The last year has fundamentally shifted consumer desires, and what customers expect from shopping in general — and from in-person visits in particular — will have a dramatic effect on the reopening plans for many retailers.
While the increased focus on areas like e-commerce and shortened at-home delivery windows have some retailers worried, physical locations are still vital destinations for consumers. And retailers who embrace the heightened consumer excitement for in-person shopping in the moment have an opportunity to make an impact on customers that ensures return business, greater revenue, and increased brand engagement.
The Experience of In-Person Shopping
There is nothing quite like an in-person, brick-and-mortar shopping trip. A physical location provides retailers with the ability to distill the core of their brand into an experience for customers. When done well, consumers are wholly immersed into the world and vision of the brand from the moment they step foot inside, to the moment they leave. This aspect of in-person shopping acts as an oasis or escape for consumers, in much the same way as an evocative piece of media, providing a unique outlet for customers to step outside of reality as they step inside a store.
In a post-COVID 19 world, retailers will find embracing, and even elevating, the experiential aspects of their stores acts as an increased draw for consumers. Utilizing cohesive branded materials via signs, decals, murals, mailers, and hand-outs, in conjunction with in-store special events and limited experiences, engages the imagination of consumers, providing a destination worth exploring that they’re unable to replicate on an e-commerce site.
Continue to Tell the Brand Story
Younger consumers are increasingly seeking out brands that more closely align with their personal values and styles. This drive for aspects of connection between consumer and brand makes for a more personalized shopping experience, which further encourages customers to seek out and engage with the brands they feel a kinship with. To maximize on this cycle, retailers should take the opportunity to ensure their brand messaging is coherent and cohesive, with a focus toward authenticity.
It’s impossible for any brand to be everything for everybody, but by striving to communicate a singular, holistic message in a clear, direct way, retailers will find they are able to more precisely align with the audiences that want their products.
Embrace Evolving Services
Customers are returning to stores with an eye beyond just shopping. Because over the last year, they have found their needs to purchase items and jump on sales being met from the convenience of their computers. But there are expanded service offerings that consumers still want, and that retailers are better able to provide, from in-person locations. Retailers that refocus their energy toward these unique capabilities — such as personalized customer service offerings, in-store pick-up, or targeted location-specific items — will see an increase in foot traffic and a lessened sting from e-commerce shopping. Part of this change requires making consumers aware of what is available in-store in the first place. Realigning a stores layout, introducing new signs and POP displays, and targeted invitations or events will help spread the word that returning in-person can prove to be a whole new experience for shoppers that they won’t want to miss.
Overall, retailers have the ability to improve their impact by embracing the new strengths and opportunities that may have been overshadowed or lay dormant in the pre-pandemic model. Updating materials and displays to align with a more directed brand image, providing limited special events and items, and focusing on the services and standards that make each brand unique will help retailers reach out and bring back the consumers they connected with before COVID changed the world.
If you’re a business owner in need of updated, quality printed materials, reach out to Brant InStore. From banners to rack-tops, tags to floor graphics, with Brant InStore, you can make it all happen. We offer more ways to get your message out there than any other printing company in North America. Utilizing a wide range of materials and methods, we can bring your vision to life with speed and efficiency. For more information about what printing style is best for your project, contact us by calling 1-800-265-8480, or filling out our online contact form right from your browser.
“Our clients are anticipating increased store traffic and want to be prepared with a more engaging shopping environment. We are partnering with them to bring new thinking and technologies such as Augmented Reality to enhance the shopping experience with the ultimate goal of driving more sales.” ~ Heather Nicholls, CEO Brant InStore
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