02 November 2017
02 November 2017
This article was originally published in November 2017, and was updated in July 2019.
The growth of digital and mobile technologies has changed the way consumers think about brick-and-mortar shopping. Retailers are working harder than ever to provide the unique and seamless in-store experience their shoppers expect, in the hope that they can stand out against online brands.
However, one thing that often holds a retailer back in their efforts is poor in-store execution. When brand standards are not upheld, in-store experience suffers, and this leads to fewer in-store conversions.
Here are 3 things that happen when in-store execution isn't perfect, and how to stop them from happening:
1. An inconsistent customer experience
HQ regularly sends out visual merchandising guidelines and marketing and promotional strategies out to stores - standards which are set to ensure consistency across the store network.
However, although every store is trying its best, these guidelines are often neglected because they’re not being properly monitored.
This is a problem that retailers are already aware of. In fact, only around 26% of retailers think they are good at in-store execution.
This is a major problem, as the image a customer gets from one of your stores, be it positive or negative, will impact their perception of your brand and determine all future purchasing decisions.
Shoppers today have an overwhelming amount of choice, so if they’ve had a disappointing experience, they might never go back to that store. They might even tell their friends about the bad experience so that they stop shopping there, too.
To provide a consistent experience, retailers must ensure that the appearance of all their stores is harmonized, so that they're instantly recognizable no matter where the store is. To achieve this, retailers need to have a real-time overview of compliance across the store network in order to nip any problems in the bud and ensure perfect execution.
2. Products in the wrong place
Picture this. You walk past a store and see a really nice dress in the window. You weren’t planning to go shopping, but you really like that dress so you walk into the store. Unfortunately, when you enter the store you can’t find the dress anywhere. You ask one of the sales associates but she has no idea where it is. This wasn’t the experience you were expecting, so you walk out.
Chances are, you weren't the only one who had the same experience that day.
If customers can’t find the products they're looking for, they get frustrated and leave. Retailers spend time and money creating visual displays to drive store traffic and trigger impulse buys. If the VM strategy is not executed accurately, it’s all for nothing.
3. Online/offline inconsistency
Consumers expect more from physical stores, with an estimated 68% of shoppers saying they expect their online experience to be duplicated in store. Not only do they expect a great shopping experience, they want it to be consistent across online and offline channels.
However, only 22% of shoppers claim their cross-channel shopping experience is harmonized.
Consumers don’t see online and in-store as separate channels: they go into stores to see, touch and try on products and then go online to buy them, and vice versa. All forms of shopping should be interconnected and easy to move between.
But poor in-store execution leads to disparities between channels that damage brand image. It’s very easy to update a product price on your website, but it’s another story to make sure it has been updated across your entire store network. And when the information across channels doesn’t match up - for example if a customer sees a promotion online but can't find it in-store - you’ve lost a sale and lost credibility.
The only way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to make it easy for sales associates to know exactly what they have to do and monitor what’s going on at store level so that issues can be easily corrected.
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