Four tips brick and mortar retailers can use to truly personalise their in-store experience


As competition grows, retailers have to work increasingly hard to maintain steady foot traffic in their stores. But once you attract that traffic (be it through a compelling storefront, a killer omnichannel marketing strategy, or effective word-of-mouth), you should focus on crafting a personalised experience so unbeatable that those customers come back again and again.

Here, we discuss four tips to turn your brick and mortar stores into a personalised wonderland.

  1. Give staff the tools to create memorable experiences

It’s important to cultivate team of retail superstars, as the employees you hire will make or break an in-store experience. Once you’re found your people, provide them with the right tools and knowledge. With the right training, each member of your team will be able to walk that critical line between being helpful and overbearing, and they’ll know how to use your customer data and analytics to provide each shopper with a memorable and personalised experience. Take Apple, for example. The retail titan teaches each of its store employees to follow the 5 Steps of Service (a technique Steve Jobs originally learned from the Ritz-Carlton). Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Approach customers with a personalised, warm welcome.
  2. Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.
  3. Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
  4. Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
  5. End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Armed with a specific blueprint for each customer interaction (and, of course, in-depth knowledge of Apple products and tech), Apple store employees can focus on satisfying each shopper’s specific needs and making sure everyone leaves happy. Use this as a jumping-off point for your own in-store training plan.

  1. Invest in location-specific technology

Location technology such as beacons has become an increasingly important tool in the quest for in-store personalisation. If you don’t already use location technology in your physical shops, it’s time to consider implementing it. Via Bluetooth, beacons use your customers’ mobile devices to track when they enter your store and where they go once they do. This information allows you to target customers with personalised notifications and to gain insights into their in-store behaviour. Let’s say your beacons tell you a particular customer is spending lots of time in your athletic shoes section. Using this information, the beacon can ping a customised discount for that product category (or even that specific product, depending on the layout of your store) straight to that shopper’s phone.

  1. Harness the power of mobile

It might seem counter-intuitive but integrating mobile commerce and in-store experiences is essential to creating seamless customer journeys. The fact that nearly every one of your customers has a mobile device connected to the internet can be used to your advantage. How? Integrate your mobile app with the in-store experience you’re attempting to create. If you don’t have a mobile app now is a great time to think about developing one — but if that’s not feasible you can still implement the ideas in this section through location technology or by partnering with other mobile services. Here are some suggestions:

  • When a customer enters the store, send a notification to their phone to open your mobile app for a special discount.
  • Encourage customers to keep your app open as they browse the store by allowing them to scan barcodes to learn more about products.
  • When a customer does scan a barcode, offer a small discount on that product.
  • Recommend other products based on customers’ scanning and browsing histories.

For example, Sportsgirl was an early adopter of this type of mobile commerce, with an app that allows shoppers to look up items on their phone by scanning a code. Their app also personalises the shopper experience by providing free music downloads, life-like interaction with their products and mobile purchasing, as well as beauty tutorials.

  1. Embrace showrooming

You know the saying: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So instead of despairing over how widespread showrooming has become, embrace the trend for its sales opportunities. Consider these tips:

  1. Offer price matching.If your bottom line can handle it, implement price matching in your physical locations.
  1. Train your team to upsell.A skilled employee — one who knows how to connect with shoppers on a personal level — truly can make or break a sale. The interaction between a member of your team and an in-store customer can determine whether a customer will reward a personalised experience with an in-store purchase.
  1. Promote positive reviews.One of the things people are doing when they showroom is, of course, looking for cheaper price, but they’re also looking for reviews on products themselves. If a customer can use your app to view positive customer reviews of a particular item, they are more likely to walk out of the store with the item.

About the author

Nikki Michaels is Vend’s retail writer. American-born and Auckland-based, she’s into reading (a lot), writing (obviously), and travelling (always).