At Vend, wanting to help retailers is in our DNA. We’re constantly cooking up ideas to help merchants sell more and serve customers better. So much so that even while watching the Oscars last night, we couldn’t help but think about how retailers can apply some of the Academy’s practices into their business.
Below are some Oscar-centric tips that you can use to connect with your shoppers and have a winning retail store:
Serve customers offline and online
The Academy gives their members the option to vote online or using paper ballots, making the voting process faster and more convenient.
Similarly, retailers should strive to provide the same type of convenience to customers and let them do business on their own terms (whether it’s purchasing online or heading to the store). This is a must especially if you have a brick-and-mortar and ecommerce site.
Offer online to offline services such click-and-collect, in-store returns, free shipping both ways, and more.
Take Walmart for example. The retailer gives online shoppers plenty of options when it comes to how they wish to receive their purchases. Customers can have their items shipped, or they can pick it up at the nearest Walmart or FedEx location.
Or check out what UK fashion retailer Oasis is doing. Its staff is armed with iPads that they can use to process payments, check product availability, and—more importantly—place online orders for the customer if an item isn’t in-stock in the store. This lets Oasis leverage both online and offline channels, enabling it to serve customers better.
Have an easy-to-navigate mobile site
ABC’s mobile site for the Academy Awards is very easy to navigate and behaves almost like an app, making it a joy to use. It’s a great example of the type of site that businesses should emulate.
Here are a few things we love about it:
a. Everything fits on the screen – All of the site’s elements fit on the mobile screen so there’s no extra tapping, scrolling and zooming necessary. Do something similar for your site. Make sure it’s designed in such a way that all its key components are visible and users won’t have to pinch or rotate their device.
b. Fat finger proof – All the images and links on the site are big enough and have ample space around them. Users won’t have to worry about tapping the wrong link, so browsing is a breeze.
Make sure your mobile site behaves the same way. Links and text should be large enough so people can easily read and click on them.
c. Image-heavy – The Academy Awards’ mobile site makes excellent use of images, showcasing the biggest stars and most talked about films. And like the other elements on the site, they’re large enough to fit the width of the screen, but not too big that users would have to scroll or zoom out.
Similarly, your site should feature the best and most eye-catching product and store pictures you have. Also be sure to keep up with the seasons by regularly updating your featured images.
d. Information can easily be viewed and sorted – Fitting all the Oscar nominees in a small mobile screen is quite the challenge, but the Academy Awards’ site does a great job in organizing and presenting the information. It enables users to expand and collapse menus so there isn’t too much information on the screen. It also lets people sort nominees by film or category, making it easier for them to find what they’re looking for.
Offer the same capabilities on your mobile site and make sure customers can easily find, view, and sort your products.
Give people behind-the-scenes access
The Academy Awards’ website and social accounts are filled with backstage photos and information. Retailers should do something similar by giving customers a “behind-the-scenes” look at how they run their business. It’s a great way to engage and connect with consumers.
Give your people backstage passes to your store by allowing them to get to know your employees or by offering a glimpse of how your products are made. Doing so makes you more real and approachable to customers, in turn strengthening your relationship with them.
Create an immersive environment
The Academy pulls out all the stops to make sure the venue and stage are perfect. They close off roads, roll out the red carpet, and use super big screens to make attendees feel like they are in a completely different world.
Aim to provide the same immersive experience. Create an environment that grabs and keeps customers in your store. Maximize the space you have with the use of great design and in-store technology.
Consider what Adidas is doing. The sports retailer announced a store redesign that would replicate a stadium experience for its customers. According to Reuters:
The new-look stores will have a tunnel entry which welcomes shoppers with the sound of cheering fans as well as a “team room” fitting area and a central spot recalling the middle of a sports field equipped with touchscreens to help find products.
This isn’t to say you should start putting tunnels and whatnot in your shop. But you should certainly think about how you can provide a better and more engaging customer experience. Ask yourself how you can make shoppers feel more present while they’re in your store. Find unique ways to delight people’s senses to get them to stay longer and buy more.
Are there any other lessons that retailers can pick up from the Oscars? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.