How Modern Retailers are Getting Customers to Stick Around (and How You Can Too)


Portrait of happy girlfriends looking at each other while chatting in clothing department

While there is certainly a case for making shopping fast and convenient, let’s not forget that there’s also a significant chunk of consumers who are craving for rich experiences and want shopping to be a leisure activity.

Not everyone wants to get in and out of a store in as little time possible. Many shoppers are willing to take their time, provided that you offer a lot of value in-store.

For this reason, retailers need to cook up creative ways to get people to not just walk into their shops, but actually stay there. After all, the longer consumers are in your location, the better the chances that they’ll make a purchase. According to The Wall Street Journal, retailers such as Origins, which has invested in getting shoppers to linger in-store, have seen sales increase 20% to 40%.

So how can you encourage customers to stay longer in-store and potentially increase sales? Below are ideas and tips you could implement.


Make room for interesting experiences

Rather than devoting all the space in your shop for selling products, consider allocating certain areas for experiences. Perhaps you can dedicate a particular part of your store for sampling products. Some Origins stores, for example, have large sinks where shoppers can try out soaps, lotions, and scrubs.

Not a fan of samples? Create an area where customers can hangout or have fun. Take for instance, Forever 21. Some of its stores have photo booths where people can snap pictures between shopping.


Meanwhile, some Babies ‘R’ Us locations have special rooms complete with rocking chairs and changing tables where moms can just hang out, nurse their babies, or take a rest.

Try to adopt these retailers’ strategies in your business. Have a think about any experiences that your customers would want to have in your store. What would make them want to hang out or stay longer? Find the answer to that and make it happen.


Offer in-store services or classes

Help customers make better use of your products by either assisting or educating them. Consider cosmetics stores such as Mac and Sephora, which provide makeup services on-site. Customers are pleased because they get a nice makeover, while the retailers are able to not only move products but also connect and get to know shoppers better.


Meanwhile, the Nike store at South Coast Plaza in California, offers run analysis, bra fitting, pants hemming, and personal shopping.


Another approach would be to hold classes. Home Depot, for example, holds home improvement sessions on-site, while arts and crafts retailer Michael’s offers various “artsy” classes, including paper crafting, knitting, jewelry making, and more.


Serve food and drink

Some retailers are experimenting with food and drink concepts to get shoppers to stick around. According to RetailDive, one example of this comes from Kohl’s, which started adding Kohl’s Cafes at its Menomonee Falls and Delafield, Wis. locations.

Similarly, Urban Outfitters has partnered up with popular chefs so they can open in-store restaurants that are tailored to the local tastes of different markets.


Set up in-store charging stations

Looking to get your mobile-centric shoppers to stick around? Try setting up charging stations in your stores. That’s what retailers such as Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus, and Under Armour are doing.

Business Insider reports that these stores are just some of the merchants utilizing mobile charging stations to encourage people to head to their stores and actually stay there. The charging stations come with compartments where people can leave their phones in while going out and about. All shoppers need to do is “enter his or her phone number, choose a security image, select an available locker, insert the phone, and plug it into the relevant charging cord.”

According to ChargeItSpot, the provider of the above-mentioned charging stations, retailers that offer in-store charging spots saw a 54% conversion rate for customers completing a purchase while charging their devices.

So far, it looks like the solution is keeping both retailers and customers happy.


Tips for implementing these in-store strategies

Hopefully the examples above got your creative juices flowing and you now have some ideas on what you can do in your stores. To help make your initiatives successful, below are a couple of pointers you may want to follow:

Strike a balance between fast and convenient vs. unhurried and experiential

You may have to cater to two types of shoppers: those who are purposeful and want to get in and out quickly, and those who are willing to stick around for worthwhile experiences. The key is to find balance and serve both.

Check out what grocery chain Lowes Foods is doing. According to the WSJ, the retailer “offers self-checkout and express lanes as well as an online order and delivery option for shoppers who are in a hurry. For those who aren’t, 29 of its 94 stores offer options like clipping herbs from an in-store garden, samples at a craft beer bar and a “Chicken Kitchen” that features staff dance performances.”

Target does something similar at numerous locations. While retailer has express lanes and offers convenient services like in-store pickup, many of its branches have in-store dining and coffee shops where customers can just hang out.

Go beyond sales targets when incentivizing associates

While sales targets are extremely important, you may also want to consider metrics such as customer engagement. Consider Origins, which started testing new staff compensation plans that “rewards guides for how well they collect customer information from shoppers and keep in touch with them.”

Doing so incentivizes the staff to not just focus on selling products, but to genuinely connect–and keep in touch–with shoppers.

If it makes sense for your business, see if you can adopt a similar strategy.


Your turn

Are you implementing tactics to get more people to stick around in your stores? Tell us about them in the comments.


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+.

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