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Experience Design: Six Strategies for Creating an In-Store Retail Experience that Resonates

June 20, 2022
Experience Design: Six Strategies for Creating an In-Store Retail Experience that Resonates

Customers expect a memorable experience when shopping in stores. A retail store experience brings a brand’s story and values to life.

But retailers can’t rely on Instagrammable moments and digital screens alone to make their stores stand out. While these can be vital tools, brands must consider how they use technology to enhance the customer’s experience. 

How do you build a lasting connection with your customer? To create a store experience that resonates, brands must evaluate every step of the customer journey. Because Leap collects information on shopper behavior across millions of data points, we’re able to fine tune the in-store experience based on insights we’ve collected from dozens of stores and hundreds of brands. With that foundation, we’re able to offer some essential perspective on how to create and optimize the shopping experience.

The importance of retail experience design in 2022

The store experience is critical for driving customer loyalty. A valuable store experience will increase traffic, conversion, and lifetime customer value. 

Build brand awareness: Retail stores are a vital customer acquisition tool. An engaging store experience will attract new customers and encourage repeat purchases. Brands often report an online “halo effect” once they open a retail store in a specific location.

Meet new consumer habits: Customers want convenience, speed, and personalization. 58% of consumers will stop buying from a brand that doesn’t provide a distinct experience. A store is an essential tool for adapting to changing consumer habits.

Drive engagement and loyalty: The role of the store has shifted. Physical retail is no longer the final step in the customer journey. 90%t of purchases are researched online before being made in-store. Stores encourage customers to form a connection with their favorite brands. 

Designing a valuable retail experience 

Brands can’t rely on one blueprint to create an authentic experience. When designing your store experience, you should consider how you communicate your brand’s story across every touchpoint.

Here are six strategies to think about when designing your retail store experience. 

1. Use store design to bring the brand to life

Customers expect a different experience when shopping in-store. Effective store design immerses the customer in the brand’s story. 

Leap-powered brand Birdies wanted its Abbot Kinney location to feel like a warm and welcoming living room. The brand centers the shoe try-on process with comfortable seating in the middle of the store. It also features its signature color, “Birdies Blush,” throughout the shop. 

The walls are pink with shoes and plants. In the middle, there is a table with featured shoes and pink chairs and couches scattered throughout the center of the store.

2. Encourage customers to interact with your product

An immersive store experience inspires customers to connect with your products. How do you encourage customers to touch and feel your merchandise? 

Australian wine brand Penfolds provides scent strips to showcase the aroma of each wine. Customers can also use a “lift and learn” feature for education. Shoppers can lift a bottle of wine to a screen and find information about each bottle. 

Memorable product displays can create opportunities for education and meaningful interaction. 

3. Create opportunities for engagement 

Make your store a destination with events, exclusive rewards, and Instagrammable moments.

  • Something Navy celebrates new collections with events. When the brand launched its collaboration with Bandier, it hosted a “workout-to-wear-out” event. Customers could participate in a fitness class and sit-down dinner. 
  • Nike has an “Unlock Box” in stores. A digital-vending machine, the “box” is only accessible through the brand’s loyalty program. Members use the Nike App to unlock exclusive products and gifts. 
A white vending machine. Inside the vending machine are individually wrapped gifts from Nike. There is a screen that says "Scan" to unlock gifts.

By making the store experience unique, brands create engagement and loyalty.

4. Focus on personalized customer service 

To provide personalized service, retailers must understand the individual shopper and uncover new needs. 

Two out of three shoppers now expect store associates to have access to their order history. Home Depot does just this. Using a customer's history, associates can suggest products that will help finish home projects.

Appointment shopping is another option to create a tailored experience. IKEA recently opened a small-format store named the “Planning Studio.” Customers can meet with associates for inspiration and advice.

A women stands in front of a planning wall. She is placing a small plant. The wall is meant to symbolize the dimensions of a living room and what shoppers may place on their shelves.

Leap offers personalized shopping—both remote and in-store by appointment—at a number of stores on the platform, allowing customers to build a deeper connection with the brand while finding the product that will suit them best. 

5. Reimagine the fitting room

The fitting room is an opportunity to enhance the store experience. ThirdLove uses lush carpets, mood lighting, and custom mirrors to create a comfortable setting. Sales associates are well-trained to provide fit and style advice. 

Swedish retailer MQ Marquet is testing digital screens in its fitting rooms. While trying on clothing, customers can access product information, inspirational style photos, and stock levels. The screens also provide options to request help or even order coffee. 

Leap thinks carefully about the fitting experience, especially for swimwear brands like Frankie’s Bikinis or Luli Fama and lingerie brands like ThirdLove, to ensure that shoppers can look and feel their best at this sensitive part of the shopping journey.

6. Use technology to enhance the customer journey 

Customers expect to be in control of their shopping experience. Digital tools allow shoppers to design their own shopping journeys.

With omnichannel fulfillment options like buy-online and pick-up-in-store, customers can shop conveniently. QR codes, apps, text concierge services, and self-checkout increase efficiency. 

Lululemon uses RFID technology to depict stock levels online and offline. Staff can easily find the product at a nearby store or order it online if something is not in stock. 

But brands must be thoughtful about how they integrate technology. For Brian Solis, who leads Global Innovation at Salesforce, “technology should not feel intrusive and suffocating. It should be in the background.” Digital tools should create a seamless customer journey.

Delivering an impactful retail experience with Leap 

Leap gives retailers “the power to manifest their brand in a physical environment.” The Leap platform inspires store design strategies that maximize flow, customer engagement, and product discovery. Customers can connect with retailers through unique brand moments. 

Leap’s approach to customer care creates consultative and personal service. Associates can see a shopper’s buyer history across Leap brands and provide recommendations. Associates also use virtual appointments and text services to deliver a high-touch approach. 

With the Leap platform, brands can provide a seamless online and offline experience. Brands powered by Leap have access to full omnichannel fulfillment options, including accepting returns in-stores. 

With Leap, brands can provide a frictionless and engaging retail experience.

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