How “customer journey” is defined depends heavily on the context. It can be as broad as your company’s marketing strategy, to as specific as operating a self-checkout kiosk. Today, we’re describing something in between those two: the in-store experience.
From the moment a customer enters a store to the moment they leave, you have significant control over how the customer engages with and perceives your brand. Ensuring that this experience is cohesive and that is able to convert shoppers into buyers is priority, though it is often overlooked.
It isn’t enough to simply deploy a few customer touchpoints in an arbitrary manner, nor simply “stack them high,” as has been the case in the past. Modern consumers demand a lot more from their retailers. This means not only helping them find the products they came for, but also making sure they enjoyed the shopping experience.
Your customers are looking for touchpoints
Many of the big stories about retailers are focused on what seemingly out-of-place pop-up shops or services are being deployed at their stores. Few could have guessed that a disco would open up in a Lane Crawford or Coco Chanel, but it’s just another bold step in a trend that started years before. You might be more familiar with the Barnes & Noble café or the massive aquarium in Bass Pro Shops. It’s all in the same vein of attractions and immersive retail.
When a potential customer enters your retail stores, they aren’t just there to find the product they want and leave. If it was only about the product, they could easily order online. The reason a customer comes to your physical store is for the experience. What these customers are looking for are what are called touchpoints.
A touchpoint is a singular experience within a shopping experience that cuts through the noise and holds their focus for a branded interaction. In other words, it is something that your customers “touch” or engage with that clearly represents your brand. The operating word when it comes to touchpoints is engage. You want your customers to interact with your touchpoints so you can generate that branded experience.
The value in customer-focused touchpoints
A touchpoint comes in many different forms. Most would immediately think of print media or their online store as touchpoints, which is true. However, the definition is not so stringent that it only includes physical things. Loyalty programs are a touchpoint, as they convey your brand’s value of customer loyalty and offer a brief interaction between employees and customers regarding this brand value. Click-and-collect programs are also a great way to show customers that their needs matter to you.
A core concept when it comes to creating engaging touchpoints is simply that they engage your customers. It can be tempting to make every touchpoint designed for conversions, yet many companies are finding success by offering touchpoints with no clear conversion value. What’s key is that customers are coming to your store and staying there. By sheer virtue of being in your store, they are already participating in your branded customer journey.
Offer more to your customers than simply a sales pitch. Giving customers a great experience in your store means that they’re more likely to come back in the future, especially if they are looking to make a purchase. The novelty of having a disco or rooftop bar within a retail store is certainly enough to at least draw the attention of potential customers and bring in foot traffic. Being that generating interest and foot traffic is one of the key areas of improvement for many retailers, this strategy has its merits.
Another example to consider is Aveda – they offer free facial and skin treatments when you visit the store. You don’t have an obligation to purchase from Aveda, but you do have to come into the store. It is still a product showcase, but it also pampers customers and has its own apparent value to consumers that brings them into the store.
Touchpoints are the milestones of a customer journey
Your customers are looking to engage with your brand, and while they’re in your store, you have the opportunity to create a very specific experience. By considering what your customers’ needs are, you will be able to offer them touchpoints through multiple channels in which they can meet those needs.
The foundation for all of this is identifying what your brand represents, and demonstrating that within the customer journey. If your company is known for convenience, offering seamless POS options and various methods of payment will reinforce this concept. On the other hand, if your company is more personal, focusing on real-time analytics and catering to individual preferences will serve better as touchpoints.
You can read more on this subject by checking out our previous blog on building a multi-channel strategy. You can also sign up for our newsletter by scrolling to the bottom of the page and filling out the form. Every month, we examine the latest trends in a particular industry, and how to capitalize on them. You can also contact us to learn more about how we can help your business meet consumer demands.