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How In-Store Execution Can Affect Your Retail Customer Experience

By Ron Welty, Founder & Chief Client Officer

Thanks to the rise of e-commerce, shopping around for the best products and prices is easier than ever. Yet, when it comes to choosing brands, Walker says customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key differentiator. In order to compete with traditionally lower prices and the ease of the online shopping experience, brick-and-mortar retailers need to focus on their in-store execution.

Poor In-Store Execution

Successful in-store execution can be challenging for retailers. According to TimeTrade’s The State of Retail Report, only 26 percent of retailers think they’re “good’ at in-store execution. When stores fail to uphold brand standards, in-store experience suffers, and retaining in-store customers becomes difficult. Here’s how poor in-store execution can affect you retail customer experience.

Inconsistent Customer Experience

Visual merchandising guidelines, brand standards, and marketing/promotional strategies are communicated to each store to ensure consistency across your locations. However, when these guidelines aren’t properly monitored, every store may not offer the same customer experience.

For example, imagine walking into a Disney outlet store and hearing heavy metal music instead of the Frozen soundtrack, or paying more than $5 for a footlong sandwich at Subway. Or perhaps seeing a dress in a window, but not finding it anywhere in the store.

Inconsistencies can be confusing to customers and can cause frustration and disappointment. Brand standards are not only essential to your brand identity but are also critical to ensuring a consistent customer experience across all locations. 

Online/Offline Disconnect

Customers don’t see online and brick-and-mortar as two separate channels. They go to stores to see, touch, and try on products, go online to buy them, and vice versa. According to Manhattan Associates, 68 percent of customers expect their online experience to be replicated in store. Yet, only 22 percent of shoppers say their cross-channel shopping experience is harmonized.

As traditionally brick-and-mortar businesses move into e-commerce and e-commerce brands like Amazon open physical locations, retailers must ensure customers can move seamlessly from one shopping channel to the next. For example, you can easily update the price of a product with a few clicks on your website, but it can be a lot harder to ensure price tags are updated across your entire store network. And when information doesn’t match up—for example, if a customer sees a t-shirt online for $15 and is asked to pay $20 in the store, you’ve likely not only lost a sale, but also credibility.

Successful In-Store Execution

Retailers that achieve success at the store level often see upticks in organizational efficiency, operational compliance, and marketing efforts as well as improvements to customer experience. Here’s how a solid in-store execution strategy can benefit retailers, associates, and customers.

Retailers

In-store execution is critical to improving the retail customer experience. When protocol is executed at the store level, brands can quickly turn vision into reality. New concepts can be implemented and measured faster to help brick-and-mortar stores compete with the agility of online channels. As a result, retailers can experience increases to in-store conversion rates and sales.

Associates

Execution strategies are meant to help associates perform their job at optimal levels. By properly executing in-store strategies, associates can sell more, improve their performance, and advance their career, making them happier and more engaged. An exceptional associate experience can then help improve your customer experience.

Customers

As a result of a successful in-store execution, your customers will ultimately have a more enjoyable shopping experience. They’ll be able to find what they’re looking more easily because merchandise will be properly displayed and associates will be available to assist them. No matter which location your customers go to, they’ll enjoy a consistent customer experience that’s been perfected by your brand.

How to Achieve Better Store Execution

Successful store execution happens when brand guidelines, promotions, and all other standards are met to provide an exceptional customer experience. Here’s how to improve in-store execution across locations.

Create an Execution Plan

Proper communication is essential to your stores understanding of corporate guidelines, promotions, and standards. Create a detailed plan for stores to execute. When even the most minute details are left out, execution will be mediocre at best. Ensure your plan of attack is not only documented but also easily accessible for stores to access.

Train Associates

Along with communication, training is essential to the understanding and knowledge of your execution plan. Interactive demonstrations and training videos can help communicate your strategy, while promoting an environment of continuous learning and improvement

Audit Stores

It’s important to validate that your brand guidelines are being properly executed across your stores. Compliance audits provide a comprehensive review of the adherence to guidelines across all locations to ensure protocol is being followed. 

However, sending an associate from store to store can be expensive and inefficient. IntelliShop has the solutions to help eliminate non-compliant risk and validate your customer experience at a lower cost. Contact IntelliShop today to request a consultation.