Whether you’re a visual merchandiser, or a small store owner – the visual element of your store is all important. Over the last few years we’ve all seen the impact that digital media can have on the retail marketplace, with everyone having to find new ways to compete with online prices and promotions, as well as fast deliveries and new innovations. In this article we’ll explore how stores can push their visual advantage over online stores in the digital age.
There’s nothing more powerful than a shopfront, and a strong identity and atmosphere inside a retail location. Some websites spend millions trying to make their online presence work just as well (just ask Selfridges who just spent $65m on their new website!). However, an online experience can never quite match that of a real retail one.
But, how can you make the most of the digital age. Well, for starters you do need a website to go with your shop – that goes pretty much without dispute. All stores, no matter how small should have some form of website where users can check out products, get more information and ideally shop. This shouldn’t be seen as an entirely different entity, it should be used as an extension of your brand image. As such, your merchandising team should be heavily involved from a visual perspective throughout any web builds and on an ongoing basis to re-merchandise the website.
In 2015, there is going to be an even bigger focus on the digital element within stores. Marks & Spencer in the UK are a great example. They’ve integrated giant mobile phone style touchscreens that allow users to browse stock, order, and share products digitally from within the store. Ideas like this make an impression on shoppers, and tie the digital and real life experiences together in a neat way.
Likewise, capturing details of your shoppers is key. It’s all very well having a hashtag strategy that goes across all of your visuals, but you need a way of capturing potential customer data to keep them in your digital funnel after they leave the retail experience. There’s a number of ways to do that, from hashtag and social tracking, to offering freebies or offers on branded USB sticks for instance from the likes of USBmakers to enable you to give the customers something in exchange for their data. With a digital giveaway you are able to preload and give bonus content on the stick – for example your new brochure or sale items list!
Think big in 2015. Digital and online are not a passing trend, or even a new innovation now. It’s time to get serious with taking your stores visuals online, and to recreate your store experience in other environments. Also think about how you can enhance your store through digital technology. For example, wearable tech is going to be huge this coming year – what can you do in store that fits your brand but makes you stand out even more?
About the Author:
Joshua Crawford is a freelance writer specializing in business and marketing matters. Josh has worked in a number of in-house marketing positions, and is now sharing his viewpoint with the world through his freelance writing business.