Spring Fair Industry learnings: How to Improve Customers' Instore Experience

Spring Fair Industry learnings: How to Improve Customers' Instore Experience

What does it take to really engage your customer’s sixth sense? Taking the stage at Spring Fair 2024, Stephen Spencer, owner of retail consultancy Stephen Spencer + Associates shared his insights on the transformative potential of ambience in shaping customer experiences. Stephen has 20+ years of extensive experience in the retail industry, collaborating with top brands like the Buckingham Palace Shop, the London Cable Car and many more. Here are some of the key takeaways for creating an immersive and authentic experience for customers. 



Why customer experience matters 


Stephen's approach revolves around the idea that exceptional customer experiences directly influences the success of a business. In other words: by understanding and prioritising your customers' needs and wants, you can create meaningful connections for happier and more loyal customers. This involves: 

  • Understanding the principles of customer engagement and retail transformation.  
  • Aligning the theme and experience of your store with your product or service.  
  • Prioritising the customer experience by understanding your audience. 
  • Identifying shopper needs and preferences and refine your offering to resonate. 

Retail consultant Daniel from Stephen Spencer Associates revitalised the Old Operating Theatre Visitor Attraction in Southern London using these principles. He collaborated with both large suppliers and local designers to curate a unique range of products that incorporated elements of upcycling and recycling- reflecting the shop's historical ambiance in the material. This resulted in increased revenue and an enhanced visitor experience, contributing to more visitors and therefore more ticket sales. 



Crafting ambiance 


One key element of customer experience is ambience. This describes everything from smell to lighting of a store- every sensory part of the retail environment. From the visual appeal of product displays to the use of scents to enhance the atmosphere, every detail contributes to the overall impression customers form during their visit. Imagine walking into a retail store where soft lighting illuminates carefully curated displays, inviting you to explore further. The gentle hum of background music sets a relaxing tone, while subtle fragrances waft through the air, evoking emotions and memories. These sensory cues aren't just incidental; they're carefully crafted elements designed to immerse customers in a multi-dimensional experience. Research has shown that pleasant scents can evoke positive emotions and enhance perceptions of product quality, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction. By paying attention to every sensory detail, businesses can create an ambience that not only captivates customers but also leaves a lasting impression, fostering loyalty and repeat visits. 



How to improve customer experience in retail stores


The Customer Realm Model 


From the online checkout to finding products in-store, each touchpoint plays a vital role in shaping the overall experience. The goal of the Customer Realm Model is a set of principle that allows retailers to provide customers with a consistent and satisfying experience regardless of how they choose to engage with the brand. This model is built on these key principles: 

  • Holistic approach: It considers all touchpoints, both online and offline. 
  • Integrated experience: Prioritises a seamless experience across all channels. 
  • Brand promise alignment: The customer experience should reflect the values and identity of the brand. 
  • Value creation: Creating value for customers at every stage of their journey.  
  • Relationship building: The idea that customer relationships drive loyalty and advocacy. 



Prioritising connections 


Creating an emotional connection with customers is important when it comes to creating an engaging physical retail space. By building genuine relationships, businesses can differentiate themselves and drive long-term success. In the digital age, where seconds-long interactions often define customer relationships, the power of physical retail lies in its ability to connect with people and leave a lasting impression.  



Optimising and improving customers’ experience in your retail store is essential for success. By prioritising cohesive brand experiences, leveraging innovative strategies, and embracing the power of emotional connections, businesses can create meaningful relationships with customers that stand the test of time. As we look to the future of retail, the key to success lies in understanding and exceeding customer expectations at every turn. 


Learn more about crafting a seamless retail experience, get in touch with Stephen Spencer + Associates. If you enjoyed learning how to elevate the retail experience you may also like our article on sourcing strategies for retail success which profile Nicole Higgins, The Buyer and Retail Coach, expertise on strategic buying. 

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