Great in-store experiences keep the customer coming back for more. The real question is, can better in-store shopping practices increase dollar spend and brand loyalty?
After visiting dozens of stores across the country, I wanted to share my favorite in-store experiences with you. Below is a list of the criterion I used to measure each:
- Is the store Instagrammable?
- Does the brand offer an interactive experience?
- Is merchandise organized and easily shoppable with little clutter?
- Are the store associates attentive and helpful but not overly salesy?
- Is the store inventory and décor unique?
- Does the retailer allow customers to test out or sample products?
- Is their great cell reception in-store? If not, does the store offer Wi-Fi?
- If the retailer or brand has an app, do they offer in-store mode or utilize personalized geofence push notifications?
- Is the checkout process seamless?
Story is very much a revolutionary concept in the retail space. Their 2000 square foot Manhattan location has the feel of a magazine, changes often like a gallery all while selling goods like a store. Unlike most stores that change seasonally, Story brings to light a new theme, issue or trend every 4-8 weeks. Over the last year, Story has offered over a dozen themes to its customers, including “Out of Office,” “Work/Space,” “Love,” “Home for The Holidays,” “Beauty,” “Fresh,” “Feel Good!”, “Made in America,” and “Have Fun.” In addition to Story’s retail aspect, the storefront also has a fancy barista counter and small spaces for customers to read or do work. Whether you’re looking to kill 20 minutes, find a one-off gift for a friend, pick up a book or indulge in a delicious coffee, Story is your spot.
Rent the Runway
If I could use one word to explain Rent the Runway’s New York City Flagship store, it would be ‘beautiful’. The store is typically color coordinated and has an infinite amount of dresses, tops, rompers and accessories to rent for any occasion. While most have to use the fashion company’s app or website (they only have 5 retail locations to date), those who are located in Manhattan have the benefit of renting and returning designer clothing in person. When you first walk into the store, you are greeted and directed to check in at one of their iPad kiosks. Once checked in, your name will be placed on the dressing room waitlist and assigned to a store associate. While waiting, customers have the opportunity to explore and choose any outfit or accessory that they’d like to try on. If you’d rather not casually browse, you can book an appointment ahead of time and receive one-on-one styling advice in a separate room. Either way, both in-store experiences are welcoming, enjoyable and definitely Instagrammable.
The customer experience in Glossier’s SoHo store is unlike anything else. It’s almost always crowded but somehow, in some way, the beauty brand’s customer service is phenomenal. The ratio of employees to customers is usually 1 to 3 but there’s always someone offering to help, educate, find an out of stock item or even check you out on the spot. And while the store front is fairly small, the environment is so inviting. With dozens of mirrors and a large sink, associates encourage customers to test out any and all products. On top of that, the store is so aesthetically pleasing and offers multiple opportunities for a selfie or two.
The concept behind KITH stores is pure genius. I mean, who doesn’t like to eat ice cream while shopping for sneakers and apparel? With locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Miami and Tokyo, KITH has changed the game for progressive retail. All brick-and-mortar stores were designed in partnership with Snarkitecture and deliver a one of a kind, intimate shopping experience. The store also offers a wide array of premium and curated apparel and footwear. As for the sweets, Founder Ronnie Fieg introduced Kith Treats in 2015. Kith Treats is a cereal and ice cream bar location in-store and has become a staple feature within KITH. Whether you go with the Ice Cream Swirl, Milkshake or Commuter Bowl, you’ll mostly definitely want to post your work of art on social media. Foodie heaven!
For most of the brand’s existence, Lively was solely a digital-first retailer. That is, until last month. The Lively Experience Store opened on July 25th and has quickly become a destination to visit. Rather than receiving items by mail, customers can now try on their wishlisted items in person and hang out with the Lively team in real life. And of course, bring your camera and friends – according to their website and Instagram page, every corner of the store is shoppable and uber-Instagrammable. Count me in!
While I haven’t had the opportunity to visit every shop below, here’s what interests me most about these store-fronts:
Bite Beauty Lip Lab – Rather than buying up a generic lipstick color, The Lip Lab allows its customers to experience the art of making their very own personalized lipstick. With four retail locations, Bite Beauty artists will guide you through their exclusive menu of colors, scents and finishes. From there, they will create a lipstick to match your personal preferences.
Levi’s Tailor Shop – There are hundreds of retail stores that sell denim but Levi’s Tailor Shop offers far more than just jeans. With nine store locations across the U.S., the shop offers an array of repair, tailoring and customization services. While their lengthy list of in-store services is quite impressive, the customization piece is most exciting to me. After all, adding a few patches and monogramming to a jean jacket makes for the perfect closet staple.
The W Nail Bar – What’s better than shopping for new shoes? Shopping for new shoes while receiving a manicure and pedicure. In recent months, DSW has teamed up with The W Nail Bar to implement mini-salons within two Ohio warehouse locations. Customers will also earn loyalty points from the nail services toward future shoe purchases. This type of customer experience differentiates DSW from its competitors and is a crucial move as the retail space becomes more and more competitive.
In an age where consumers can quite literally shop from anywhere, it’s imperative for brick-and-mortar retailers to really step up their game and implement similar customer experiences to the examples above. Because as they say, if you aren’t innovating and keeping customers engaged, someone else will.