I found this article by Bernhard Schindlholzer and thought it was pretty good advice on customer touch-points and ensuring you focus on the right customer touch-points at retail.
Every retailer has at some point thought about the design of his retail stores in order to create a remarkable customer experience with the goal to maximize revenues. The design of retail stores with customer experience in mind is a complex task and usually a lot of focus is put on the stores environment, the stimulation of the customer’s senses and extraordinary service.
With all these different areas that provide opportunities to design remarkable experiences, the ultimate question remains: What are the areas of customer experience design that will have a direct impact on your sales?
Let them touch and they will buy
A recent study has shown that the longer people touch certain products, the higher is the probability that they will actually buy the product. The researchers from Ohio State University and Illinois State University discovered this by asking participants about their willingness to pay for a product in a bidding process depending on the time they have hold the cup in their hands. In case your products are locked away in a glass showcase or – even worse – have a sign that says “don’t touch” you should think if there might be a better solution to present your products and give customer a chance to experience them. You might be missing out significant amount of sales.
Thinking about these findings, I asked myself: What is really the essence of a remarkable shopping experience? What drives people to buy instead of just look around?
The reason why people enter your shop
It is clear that not every potential customer enters a shop to make a purchase. Sometimes people enter your shop just to look around and collect information. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the underlying reason why people enter your shop:
Customers enter your shop because they want to experience your products, not your shop.
The focus of designing retail shopping experiences is therefore on designing opportunities for the customer to experience the product as realistically as possible and not to design the shop so that it creates a better experience.
Customer want to experience what it is like to own your products – your shop should be designed to help create these “product discovery experiences”.
Exclusive interior is overrated
Following this approach, it becomes obvious that exclusive and expensive interior does not necessary lead to a better shopping experience. Potential customers will enter your shop because they want to experience your products, not to see a nice shop. Just ask yourself how this exclusive wood boarding will influence the “product discovery experience”.
“But what about exclusive fashion boutiques?” you might ask. “They have nice shops with expensive interior so it must have an impact, right?”. Yes, they have expensive interior but the interior is secondary. The primary experience driver is the interaction with the sales clerk who will “simulate” real world experiences by telling you how great this new suit or dress looks on you. This is a simulation of the real-life effect that you want to achieve with your exclusive clothes, handbag or watch, created by employees in a personalized “product discovery experience”. A pleasant environment plays a role to create a remarkable experience, but it is not the key driver of the experience.
The implications for your business
If you are responsible for designing a retail experience or shop for your business, you should ask yourself the following question: Are you designing a “shop experience” or are you designing a “product discovery experience”? If you approach the design problem from a “product discovery experience” perspective, you should identify the design elements that contribute to a simulation of the effects of owning your products. Let your customers feel what it is like to own your products.
Approaching the retail shopping experience problem from this perspective, I am sure you will come up with countless opportunities to create a truly remarkable customer experience that will not just make shopping more fun, but also influence your bottom-line.