Experience is a huge part of retail today – particularly for brick-and-mortar stores. It’s what separates the physical from the digital by offering something customers can’t get online. Or from another brand.
Storytelling is one way that retail can create better customer experiences. Stories make us feel things. They help deliver information. We remember stories and we want to share them.
These are all things that retailers are trying to do with their stores. They want to give customers information. They want to be memorable. They want to have customers tell their friends and family about them. Storytelling is a more interesting way of doing this.
Every retailer has a story to tell – they just have to find it. Whether a brand makes use of local ingredients, has an unusual design, is environmentally friendly, has a long heritage, is connected to a big-name celebrity, sponsors events, offers classes to customers, has great store design – there’s always something worth talking about.
It’s something that retail can use to create a story for their brand, and in turn enhance the customer experience. This story will engage and retain customers, as well as help humanise the brand. By painting a picture of what their brand is about, the retailer makes it seem more than a faceless, brightly-lit store with things for sale. It makes it more about buying into the lifestyle promised by that brand.
As such, storytelling also helps retailers to forge strong bonds with customers. If they feel a connection to a brand or retailer than they are more likely to be loyal to them. If a retailer can tap into the customer’s heart and mind, then they have them.
In physical retail, storytelling creates the opportunity for interaction. This can be demonstrations of products, interactive displays, digital content and social media, classes and events, customisation options and more. It can tell customers how a product gets made or the retail brand came to be through engaging all five senses. This can be a very powerful experience. It can make customers want to return again and again.
Most important though is that a retailer’s story needs to be real. Customers quickly become wise to someone trying to fake a story or a retailer selling themselves as something they’re not. An authentic story is one that comes from the retailer’s actual activity, from their unique selling point, from what they offer customers.
Once a retailer knows what its story is it needs to tell it. They need to tell people what the product or service on offer will do for them, how it will help them, how it can enable them overcome challenges, how it can enhance their life.
The customer should be part of the story. It should never be just about the retailer but come back to what they can do for the customer. Whether it’s that the brand’s long expertise means it can make the customer better at an activity, or that it’s environmentally friendly policies can lessen the customers ecological impact.
Storytelling should be part of how a retailer communicates with customers. It tells them who the retailer is and what value they offer in a way that is interesting and engaging. And like any great story, it can keep them coming back again and again.
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends