5 Tips to Create a Customer-Centric Retail Space

Retailers are not just competing with ecommerce giants and other retail products; they’re vying to win customers over with their exemplary service and memorable shopping experiences. If home is the first space and work is the second, here’s where the “third space” comes in – a unique shopping environment that justifies a store’s existence through mood lighting, funky furniture, interactive workshops and more.
Creating a third space for your business requires strategy. What works for Starbucks and Apple may not be the right fit for your products or brand. However, there are five things that every retailer should consider when developing a space to delight and entertain its customers:
1.      To Display or Not to Display
Are your products something your customers can touch? If so, consider displaying as many of your products and allowing customers to try them out. One of the biggest perks of a brick and mortar store is that customers can actually see and feel your products – so flaunt what you’ve got.
2.      Make it Easy for Your Customers
Consider what would make your customers’ shopping experience more enjoyable and less of an errand. What could possibly be taking them out of your store faster than you’d like? Is their phone about to die? Offer easy charging stations for their devices. Is it an exceptionally hot day? Keep bottled water and perhaps even some moist towelettes for their disposal.
Think about what makes shopping a possible pain for you and then make it your job to alleviate those problems for your customers. If your patrons are generally young mothers with restless children, consider investing in a child’s play area with books and toys. If you sell sporting goods, think about having a game on a TV in your stores so your patrons don’t miss the score.
3.      In-store Marketing
You leverage marketing to bring customers into your store, but how about using it to keep them coming back? Companies like Whole Foods get the most for their in-store marketing buck; aisles are often capped with food samples, stations are set for demonstrations, and clever signs promoting deals and clean eating remind everyone why they came there in the first place. Hint: it’s not just for the kale.
4.      Let Technology Come to Play
Even if your products aren’t high-tech, that doesn’t mean technology doesn’t belong in your store. Think about how phone apps and other interactive programs can augment your customers’ experience. Forbes names five tech trends it expects to see in every retail store by 2020: showrooming, smart shelves, mobile payment, sensory technology and self-service checkouts. Consider if any of these ideas might be worth early adoption.
5.      Keep Customer Service First
No matter what changes you make to provide a unique shopping experience for your customers, make sure you never stray any of your focus away from providing the best customer service. While that may include free drinks, fancy displays, comfy seats and cool gadgets, remember that online shopping can’t offer the personal attention that a well-trained, motivated sales clerk can provide.
Ways to enhance customer service include keeping a buyer’s profile on hand, including purchase and service history to quickly update a clerk on a customer’s personal relationship with your brand and to guide future purchases. It may be a good idea to give clerks a general uniform guideline, such as wearing all white so that they can be easily spotted in the store. Provide regular training on your product offerings, promotional items and advantages against competitors so they can provide expert advice and be seen as a go-to resource when they come to your store.

Fran Stevenson is director of strategic accounts at Accruent, which provides real estate and facilities management solutions.