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How to create extraordinary – or wow – retail experience for shoppers

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The topic of has gained the most traction in the wake of digital era. Th is is not to say that the topic did not hold much credence in yesteryear market. However, a “wow” is the milestone that all the retailers are striving continuously to achieve as these form the formative steps in actualising repeat purchases in the short term and building brand equity in the long run.

A wow retail experience comprises five key elements:
• Engagement: It encompasses being polite, showing interest in helping, acknowledging and listening.
• Executional Merits: It includes explaining and advising, checking stock, assisting in finding products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
• Brand Experience: Appealing store design and atmosphere, great product quality, making customers feels that they are always get a deal.
• Expediting: Being proactive in helping speed up the shopping process.
• Problem Recovery: Ability to resolve problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.

The advent of internet has surpassed territorial borders, at least virtually! It has heralded a global marketplace where all sellers and buyers are online. It has also pushed technology innovation like chat bots, virtual reality, extended reality, gamification, etc, empowering both buyers and sellers for touch and feel experience and customer services. The Influencer community has been playing an effective role in building brand equity and pushing business. Deliberations on providing personalized & customized consumer experience has become significant in business meetings. A big chunk of marketing spends is diverted towards realizing this goal.

Technology has indeed reinvented the conventional visual merchandising realm – bringing about contrary changes in product launches, presentation and packaging. It has indeed broken the monotony of retail sales process. Statistics show that by 2020, global retail sales are anticipated to hit US$ 27.73 trillion; so there’s clearly scope for brands to maximise profits and get a share of this growth in the next few years.

Visual merchandising is nothing but strategizing on how to make your product appear visually appealing. Capturing a buyers’ attention was never given so much importance till the time window shopping became popular and consumerism started making lethal business impact.

Visual merchandising plays a critical role in the look and feel of the product displayed. To a great extent, it also underlines the culture of a brand. Executed well, it helps in pushing purchases and stimulates brand loyalty. Some of the elements that make up for successful visual merchandising focuses on a store’s appearance, signage, lighting, uniformity, point of sale material, and products’ colour, shape, texture, packaging, ticketing and presentation. Each of these elements brings together in a retail setting the “wow” factor. Of course, these elements need to be complemented by human intervention in providing customer service and the desired customer engagement activities to move beyond that ‘wow’ experience and make a substantial contribution to the brand’s kitty.

An effective store layout helps in directing your customers straight to your product. Hence, it is important to study your customer traffic flow to evaluate product placement strategies to ensure customer traffic and sales output.

• Look at your Customer Journey: Check if customer’s physical interaction with your product adds to the in-store buying experience. Even if it is a certain packaging component, be sure it is visible on the style of shelf your product will be stocked on.

• Support your Product’s Narrative: Whether it’s a minute detail on your packaging, a strategic display, or the way your product looks side-by-side on a shelf, make sure it contributes to the larger narrative you are creating through your online presence and social media.

• Advocate for Premium Shelf Space: Look at your market share compared to your shelf space share. If your share of shelf space is lower than your share of the market, bring this up with the retailer to make a case for more space or premium placement. Requesting for prime spot can be a big ask, but if you have a good product and numbers to back it up, it can pay off . You may want to avail Retail Space Audit Services in case you want to enhance your presence in the existing ecosystem.

• Avoid Out-of-Stocks: If you’re struggling with ‘out of stock’, first check to make sure it’s not an ordering schedule issue. If it’s not, and you can’t increase your deliveries or production, it may be better to reduce your facings instead of leaving retailers with empty shelves. Frequent ‘out of stock’ occurrences could jeopardize your product’s placement. Even worse, you’re giving loyal customers opportunities to try competing products. In this case, you can probably opt for a Retail hygiene management tool that provides you complete visibility of your stock and keeps you updated to take necessary action on time.

• Understand the Denial: Before you make any changes to your retail merchandising strategy, look at your product, packaging and display tactics. Do they engage? Entertain? Educate? If it is a no then is it because the customer connects more with a competitor next to you on the shelf? Or is it because he doesn’t get the answers for what he needs from your packaging, or maybe he just abandons the purchase cycle all together? If you can answer these questions, you’ll be better at patching holes in your purchase funnel.

• It’s a non-debatable fact, that an effective VM strategy and a full-proof execution of the same has the power to transform a mere memo-name into a brand, a first-time trial consumer into a loyalist and a simple yet thought-through plan into a successful case study. While the brand imagery becomes a playground for executing the visual merchandising nuances, the result is always an augmented revenue matrix.