Mood Media, the world’s leading experiential media company, collaborated on a global research study in October with Miya Knights, a retail expert, author and publisher, to gain an understanding of the evolving customer expectations of physical stores. The survey focused on trending consumer habits around the world to understand and predict the ever-changing role of physical retail.
In this article, we’ll share some of the key findings from the study that provides insight into how you might provide a more elevated and engaging in-store experience for your customers.
A return to physical retail
In a Fall 2020 Mood study, as the world began to slowly come out of lockdowns and settle into what many referred to as the “new-normal,” 54% of consumers stated that it felt good to return to physical stores. However, in a follow-up 2021 Mood study, 65% of shoppers still said they were not yet visiting stores as often as they did before Covid-19.
Today, consumers are beginning to enjoy the physical shopping experience again. In fact, in Mood’s newest report, 71% of consumers throughout the world are now shopping in physical stores as often or even more often than before the pandemic.
Over one-third (38%) of consumers expect to shop in physical stores more often than they did two years ago.
Why the return?
According to the study, 50% of US consumers (and 45% globally) cite “the convenience of getting purchases instantly” as the number one reason they choose to shop in a physical store rather than online. Simply put, though online delivery is easier than ever, the instant gratification that comes with brick-and-mortar shopping still has strong appeal.
Forty-one percent of US shoppers also cite the ability to see, touch and feel goods before they purchase them as a reason for choosing brick-and-mortar shopping. Given this physical advantage, retailers should carefully consider how they display their merchandise to make it more accessible and explore more ways to encourage customers to interact, engage, discover and experiment with products.
The third most cited reason for visiting physical stores again is the leisurely enjoyment of shopping with friends and family, noted by 38% of US consumers. The implication here for retailers is that we need to ensure we’re creating welcoming, pleasant atmospheres that celebrate shopping as a shared experience.
Setting the mood
The actual in-store experience naturally plays a big role in consumers' willingness to return to in-store shopping. Creating a space that engages the consumer and puts them in a positive mood can have a profound effect on their willingness to buy from your brand. A whopping 84% of shoppers said they would return to stores with a pleasant atmosphere.
To create this engaging experience, the sights, the sounds and even the scent of a retail space all play a part. Branded music playlists and inviting aromas are essential to creating a pleasant store atmosphere, according to the Mood study, as well as lighting, layout and eye-catching visuals. The study also suggests other amenities can build positive views of your brand, with offerings like free Wi-Fi around your property.
Another cited advantage of in-store shopping is personal interaction. As an example, the availability of friendly and knowledgeable store staff is cited as the most important factor when creating a pleasant experience in health and beauty stores, cited by 51% of respondents.
Blending of worlds
Consumers are beginning to see both the online and offline shopping experience as part of the same buying journey and not as one versus the other. With higher comfort levels in the online space, shoppers expect similar levels of digital technology solutions as an integral part of the physical sales space. 26% of shoppers say that engaging digital content influences their purchasing decisions and 22% say they shop longer as a result.
Digital experiences like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality as well as digital self-service and mobile checkout are growing factors in consumer preferences, with a global average of 57% saying these types of technologies play an important role when choosing a store.
The bottom line
With more consumers returning to a physical in-store experience, it's important to recognize what they most love about brick-and-mortar shopping and ensure you're capitalizing on those key drivers. Make sure you display your merchandise in a way that encourages interaction and celebrates shared experiences. Allow the shopper to touch, feel, try and even play with your product.
Be sure to also consider how the music, scent and signage can create a more emotionally-enriching and pleasant store mood. Embrace digital technology solutions that provide shoppers with more information, more choices and more ways to pay quickly and easily.
Mood's new study suggests that consumers will reward you for such actions by making more purchases and returning to your store. Set your business up for success by delivering an in-store experience that is at once pleasant, inviting, interactive and engaging.
For a deeper look into the evolving customer expectations of physical retail spaces, click the link below. Once there, you can download the entire Mood study and discover more statistics, detailed analysis and other key takeaways from the global survey.