7 Ways Shopping Experience Personalization Can Increase Brick & Mortar Revenue

Retail experience personalization for brick and mortar tips

If you’re an old geezer like me, you might remember the theme song of the 1980s sitcom “Cheers”. It says that “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name”. When it comes to retail, most clients want just that. According to research, 46 percent of shoppers will buy more from a retailer that personalizes their shopping experience. Moreover, according to a RightNow Customer Impact Report, 86 percent of consumers will pay up to 25 percent more for a better customer experience.

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Playing Catch-Up

eCommerce has been leading the charge for sure. Companies developed tracking technologies, recommendation engines, chatbots, and big data analytics systems in an attempt to “get personal” with online buyers.

This worked quite well. Online retailers now take advantage of tech to create personalized experiences for customers across digital channels. As consumers, this has made us somewhat spoiled. We don’t only want a personalized shopping experience. We expect it. And according to research by Adobe, most brick-and-mortar retailers fail to deliver (even though they think they’re doing great).

shopping-experience-personalization-offline

So, as a classical brick-and-mortar retailer, what can you do to step up your game and bring the online shopping experience to the offline world?

1. Know Your Advantages

Brick-and-mortar vs e-commerce is not really a competition. In many ways, shops still have an edge over online purchasing. According to, well, even more research (we love numbers), 94% of total retail sales are still generated in brick & mortar stores. That’s right 94%!! And before you ask, this research project was performed in 2014, so yeah, it’s still relevant.

Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization. Ultimately, they offer the greatest potential to not only set you apart from your competition but also provide your customers with a shopping relationship – with a real human being, no less.

eCommerce, with all its personalization tech, is merely trying to mimic the service provided by an excellent sales floor employee that interacts and customizes the shopping experience through real, honest interactions.

While some sales reps are naturals at creating a personalized experience, others need to be trained. If you don’t have an on-the-job training program, it’s time you create one (no matter how small your retail business is), and make sure to personalize the training experience to what your employees want and need as well.

Another advantage you probably didn’t know you had but can capitalize on: impulse purchases happen in-store more than online.

retail-shopping-statistics

The most important advantages, however, are those unique to your business. Your location, your staff, your exclusive products, and that special sauce that makes your brand unique. These are your personal advantages. And as such, they must be integrated into your personalization strategy, providing you with an edge.

2. Segment (and Understand) Your Client Audience

Personalization is about giving each individual the unique shopping experience that is right for them, and only them. No two shoppers are the same. But to start personalizing, you need to somehow categorize and characterize the people walking into your shop. There are some typologies defined out there, but the real challenge is recognizing these shoppers before they even make their first purchase. How do we do that? With technology. But more on that later.
retail-customer-typology

It’s also important to understand the unique properties of your business and the behavior of your potential clients. For example, if you have a floral business next to a funeral home, your personalization strategy will probably differ greatly from one near an event venue.  

3. Employ Technological Solutions

Our love for our mobile devices, combined with innovation in IoT (internet of things) technologies have the potential to turn the shopping experience into one that looks like a scene from a science fiction movie. More and more retailers use in-store beacons and apps to personalize and enhance the in-store shopping experience.

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Odds are you can’t avoid technology when it comes to shopping personalization. However, its application depends very much on your business. You might not need an app to help users navigate your little corner shop. But you might enhance your customer experience by letting them schedule their visits to your business. It all depends on what you’ve recognized as your advantages.

4. – Balance Personalization and Intrusion

When we think about the technological advances we mentioned above, we can’t help but remember a short scene from the movie “Minority Report”. In it, the protagonist enters a GAP store that instantly scans his eyes to personalize his experience in the shop.

This scene, to me, shows how in-store personalization can quickly go from “wow that’s awesome” to “dude, that’s creepy”. Depending on your audience and business, you’ll need to balance out personalization with privacy. For example, the information people would be willing to give in return for value differs between a floral shop and a sex shop.

The good news, however, is that you’re probably more paranoid about tech than your customers. According to  a few surveys, up to 90 percent of consumers are willing to share personal information for rewards and personalization. Of course, this depends on the type of information you request, what you do with it, and how safe you keep it.

shoopers-willing-to-provide-data-for-rewards

5. Personalize with Loyalty Plans

We love loyalty plans and the benefits that come with them. According to studies, 80 percent of shoppers report that they belong to at least one loyalty program. Not only that, but 32 percent said strong loyalty programs trump lowest price when deciding where to buy.
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Loyalty programs are an invaluable resource for your shopping experience personalization efforts. They are the best way to collect information from your clients, and connect it with purchase histories and store visits. It also provides you with contact information that lets you communicate with your brand VIPs over email, phone or social media to inform them of personalized offerings waiting for them in your shop.

6. Empower Your Store Associates

We already touched on this previously but it’s worth repeating and expanding upon. Why? Because your employees hold the biggest potential advantage your brick-and-mortar has over eCommerce. Obviously, you can’t compete with the convenience. But, believe it or not, there are still people out there who want to have a human interaction when they’re shopping. If you can make that interaction no less than awesome, you’ll surely see dividends.

After all, as smart as a chatbot gets, they cannot replace a human when it comes to choosing a product. To clarify, your sales team shouldn’t be overly salesy. We want them to give us valuable information in the purchase making decision. Roughly 40 percent of consumers believe that a knowledgeable sales associate would greatly enhance their retail shopping experience, and personalization is part of it.

This means you need a trained and professional staff, but technology can help a lot. For example, the majority of customers use their mobile phones when showrooming. There’s no reason why your sales associates can’t too.

Imagine asking someone in the shop about the technical specifications of some product and its location in the store. They pull out a tablet, show you the product catalogue and send the specs right to your phone with a discount coupon for another product you might need to compliment the one you’re looking for. It would be refreshing, after all the many times I got the answer: “Uhm… I’ll get someone from that department” from sales associates in shops.

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7. Get Feedback

There’s probably no better way to personalize than to simply ask people what they want. We, as customers, appreciate being asked for our opinion on the services and products we pay for. For retailers, this information (if properly collected and analyzed) is not only a way to improve, but also to learn more about each client and how your efforts are affecting their shopping experience.

Keeping it Personal

Technology today empowers retailers to provide personalized shopping experiences across channels. But with great power, comes great responsibility. In crafting your personalization strategy for your brick-and-mortar business, you must consider many factors. The resources required, the training hours for store associates, and technological solutions needed, just to name a few.
Each business has its own properties and characteristics, and you know your business best. And that precious knowledge, combined with our tips, is your first step to a more personal shopping experience customers will want to repeat and share.

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Eyal leads marketing operations for Connecteam and is also an avid upcyclist (look it up) and semi-professional downhill hiker.
  • Imaobong Asuquo

    Very informative article, and I totally agree with it too.
    Plus e-commerce is probably one of the best things that has come to be now.

  • great article! I could’ve done with some of this knowledge when I worked retail, I could never seem to crack what the female shoppers wanted. lol. I do all my shopping online now for clothes, It’s so much easier to find exactly what you want and at a lower price point.

  • Hyla @hylaandpeterechols.com

    Planning and organizing is key!

  • Leigh Anne Borders

    Great article. I used to work in retail and have to say that you are spot on!

  • This is so interesting! I don’t know a lot about marketing but I’m trying to learn so this is helpful

  • Daisy Reyes Teh

    Great article, there is some very sound advice for brick and mortar businesses here. I am surprised by the statistics of online vs brick and mortar though, I would have thought the numbers would be skewing a bit more toward online retailers.

  • It is so true.. Most people liking shopping where the store remembers you. I personally prefer to do most of my shopping online 🙂

  • this is so important to small business owners, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Cristina Leau

    Great article, full of useful information. Thanks for sharing.

  • An interesting post, this! We do a lot of shopping online but will always return to brick shops where we’ve had good experiences.

  • Your words are very true of our shopping experiences. We do a lot of online shopping, but personalised attention from a real person is hard to beat.

  • Krystle Cook

    All of this is so true. I can get so much online that I can’t get in the store.

  • Having worked in the Customer Service industry, I have to agree with this 100%! If you make your customer feel special by personalizing their experience, you can expect them to be back often.

    • Eyal Katz

      Awesome. Thanks for your comment.

  • Our Family World

    You’ve certainly raised a lot of good points. I tend to order online but only with products I know about, or have been a tangible part of my life at least once.

    • Eyal Katz

      You’re right. With online shopping there is an inherent mistrust and trepidation that discourages many shoppers.

  • I used to work in retail and I got what you mean. I’ve seen customers who seek for personalized service – a good example would be bagging grocery. It’s sad that less and less cashiers do the bagging now. Personalized service is so important!

    • Eyal Katz

      Absolutely, I think the future of retail is in boutique like experiences. especially when it comes to small business. This is where a small shop can outcompete the big chains and bring in return shoppers – the holy grail of retail

  • I shop in store and online. Both experiences are fine, but sometimes I do prefer to actually see the product I want in person.

    • Eyal Katz

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Lisa Rios

    The statistics on shopping experience sounds interesting and I agree that people would be ready to pay more for a better customer experience anytime. I go for online shopping for certain items and prefer direct shopping that needs more detailed look in to it!

    • Eyal Katz

      That’s very much what we see. Online shopping experience is great if you know what you need. However, you can’t really window shop or impulse buy online….yet.

  • Nikki Nurtures

    I primarily shop online just for ease. Parking and other people in stores gives me anxiety.

  • Janet Orr

    I am skeptical of anyone who claims to have solutions for small business.

    There are very few exclusive products that brick and mortar can display that can’t be found online. Any producer of unique goods is likely to set up their own online store. Why would they shrink their market to a few shops when it’s so inexpensive to sell online? Even large producers who were exclusively in brick and mortar are selling online Once the customer sees it or buys it in the store, he might go online and never buy it from you again.

    As for personalized technology, that is often only valuable if the technology is free or near-free. Without scale, the expense of technology (testing, content, maintenance, and management) often can’t recover the costs. Monitoring trends and technologies alone can be a significant cost.

    There really are few solutions for small brick and mortar businesses. The evidence of this is reflected in the fact that even the large, successful retailers with their own market research departments are unable to solve this problem and are closing stores at a very quick rate.

    • Eyal Katz

      HI Janet,
      Thanks for your comment. While it may seem that every brick & mortar now operates their own eCommerce operation, and that online is the future, that is just not the case. Especially when it comes to small businesses. According to recent studies, 61% of shoppers still shop exclusively in brick & mortar establishments. In addition, brick & mortar is better at upselling and impulse buying with 40% of shoppers claiming to spend more when they offline then when they do online.

      Actually, what we’re now seeing is a reverse of that process with online eCommerce shops moving offline, like Amazon Go and Amazon Bookstores in University Campuses. Amazon is one of the latest to go offline after over 20 large eCommerce companies opened brick & mortar shops in the last couple of years.

      Brick & mortar retail is far from being dead, just like email hasn’t disappeared from our lives with the advent of social media.

      • Janet Orr

        Thanks Eyal. Working in the bicycle retail business, I don’t see it. Big eCommerce might be able to accent their online with retail but that’s not the same as small independent brick and mortar stores making it.

        I wish I were as optimistic as you are. I have seen that some malls are splitting up the square footage of their anchor stores providing more opportunity for small business and more rent for the mall owners. That seems like a positive. Best Buy has also done something similar with their large vendors.

        I mostly see a lot of consolidation, turning more and more products into commodities, and vendors competing against their own retailers, but I hope your positive perspective turns out to be more accurate than my negative one.

        • Eyal Katz

          Obviously I’m not trying to pretend that brick & mortar is as strong as ever. No doubt that online shopping has taken a big chunk out of the shopping pie. Especially with intent driven shopping.

          I do, however, think that it’s cyclical. Retail will have to adjust to a leaner time, run more efficiently, and make the most out of every walk in and every salesperson. It is far from disappearing but just like other legacy businesses it is going through a revolution, which is painful now but will bear fruits later. 🙂

          Thanks again for your insight.

  • Aziel Morte

    Such a good post, I tried to make retail selling and whole sale on my online selling and I bet this post is so good for business,

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