What Consumers Are Expecting From Your In-Store Retail Experience

ShoppingGives checkout

This post was authored by our friends at ShoppingGives, who provide seamless integrations for customer-focused cause marketing.

The world of retail was greatly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with much of consumer spending shifting online. While ecommerce grew by 44% in 2020, brick-and-mortar stores are just now opening back up to the public, and as more people are becoming vaccinated, consumers are more willing and more likely to begin moving their buying habits back in-store.

However, there are still concerns around returning to in-store shopping. Not only are consumers weary about safety precautions, but the ease of ecommerce has led consumers to expect in-store experiences that make their shopping trip seamless, efficient, and safe. 

Here’s what you need to know about consumer expectations in 2021 and how you can create a positive in-store experience for your customers in a post-pandemic world.

Create a seamless omnichannel experience through BOPIS

What is BOPIS?

Buy online, pickup in-store, also known as BOPIS, is a purchasing option that allows consumers to make a purchase online and pick up their order in-store. Their order can be picked up either from a dedicated customer service pickup area, from curbside pickup, or even from pickup lockers.

Through BOPIS options, customers can add items to their online cart, select in-store or curbside pickup, and complete the rest of their checkout process as they normally would. Once their order is ready for pickup, the customer will receive a notification and can pick up their order at their convenience during the store’s business hours.

Why is BOPIS important?

Consumers are increasingly expecting free shipping when they buy items online and for their items to arrive as quickly as possible. In fact, 65% of consumers factor shipping costs into their buying decisions before they even get to the checkout.

Customers look up shipping costs

With retail giant Amazon offering two-day free shipping to customers, having to wait longer than that for an item to arrive can be frustrating for consumers. Additionally, according to a report by the National Retail Federation, 75% of consumers surveyed said they expect delivery to be free on orders under $50. This poses a dilemma for smaller retailers who cannot compete with the two-day free-shipping model that many consumers have become accustomed to.

To combat slow shipping times and to save money on delivery, consumers are increasingly embracing new options, like picking up their online purchases at a physical store location. With the growing popularity of BOPIS options, consumers are able to place an order online and pick it up the same day in-store—saving time on shipping and from searching for items in-store. 

Enabling customers to utilize this BOPIS model is also beneficial for the merchant. Since the customer is visiting the brick-and-mortar location to pick up their items, they’re likely to browse the store for other items, therefore increasing the probability of impulse purchases as well.

Offer more convenient checkout options

Consumers love the ecommerce shopping experience because it’s quick and convenient. As consumers bring their shopping habits back in-store, they’re going to be expecting a level of convenience during their physical shopping trip as well. Merchants can meet these consumer demands through various technology solutions to ensure their in-store retail experience is as seamless as possible.

Contactless payment methods

One of the least favorable parts of in-store shopping is standing in the checkout line. With online shopping, a customer can complete the checkout process within seconds, especially if they are a returning customer. This means that standing in a long line to check out from a brick-and-mortar location can be frustrating and may even deter customers from making a purchase if they decide their time is more valuable. 

A recent study indicates that retailers are losing a collective $37.7 billion in potential sales due to long checkout lines. “Retailers need to cater to shoppers by offering fast, easy and frictionless ways to pay so there are minimal lines and offer personalized recommendations and in-store deals. In other words, experience is key.” 

Tap and chip reader

Offering contactless payment methods to shoppers can make the in-store checkout experience more streamlined and efficient to better mimic the ease and convenience of placing an online order. Especially with the continuous concern of safety precautions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, tap-and-go payment methods are not only speeding up the checkout process, they also enable customers to feel safer about shopping in-store by being able to avoid interacting with a traditional credit card reader.

Contactless payments graphic

During the pandemic, one in five consumers made a contactless payment for the first time, and of those consumers, 57% said they would continue to use contactless payment methods post-pandemic. As consumers are still wary of the pandemic, according to The Visa Back to Business Study, nearly half (48%) of consumers wouldn’t shop at a store that only offers payment methods requiring contact with a cashier or shared machine like a card reader. 

Mobile self-checkout

Another great option for merchants to implement in-store to speed up the checkout process is offering mobile self-checkout. Many consumers are already use their mobile devices while shopping in-store to look up product details and reviews, so enabling them to utilize a mobile self-checkout experience is a natural extension of the in-store digital experience.

Through a mobile self-checkout experience, consumers can shop in-store as usual with the added ease and convenience of skipping the typical checkout line. By enabling multiple checkout options, this also benefits the merchant by creating a shorter physical line for other customers who are shopping at the same time. 

If you are choosing to enable a mobile self-checkout experience, make sure to advertise this somewhere in-store so your customers are aware of this option before they get to the actual checkout. 

Engage customers through social impact and giving back

Why does my brand need to engage in social impact?

Today’s consumer is shopping more consciously. They are paying more attention to a brand’s values and increasingly choosing to support brands whose values align with their own. In the age of conscious consumption, shoppers are spending more time on a brand’s About Us page—they want to know the people behind the brand and what they stand for.

Consumers are looking at what the retailer stands for and what the retailer cares about—aligning their values.

Ronny Sage, Founder & CEO, ShoppingGives

 Graphic of a group of people talking

As consumers become more educated on a brand’s societal impact, they’re demanding that that impact be a positive one. Nearly 60% of consumers in the US said they want businesses to be more vocal about important issues, and 50% of consumers said they do online research to see how a brand reacted to societal issues.

This means consumers will be able to identify whether a brand is genuinely invested in a cause, or is using a social impact strategy as a marketing ploy. As consumers begin switching brands to support ones who advocate for a cause, customer loyalty is on the line for these conscious consumers.

How can I implement a social impact strategy?

As consumers shift back to in-store shopping, merchants have an opportunity to bring their social impact efforts in-store as well. By offering a donation option at checkout, merchants can better engage their in-store shoppers through a unique and meaningful purchase experience. One way to do this is by integrating ShoppingGives into the Shopify POS through the Change Commerce app.

By enabling ShoppingGives for Shopify POS, Shopify brands are empowered to elevate their brand identity, increase customer lifetime value, and incentivize purchasing behavior by supporting causes that are important to their customers. You can even highlight and support causes that are in your local community to create more meaningful interactions with your customers. 

In using Change Commerce for Shopify POS, you will also have access to exclusive data and insights into the causes that your customers support, which you can then use in your remarketing efforts.

To make your customers aware of your giving efforts, you can utilize in-store print marketing that will educate them on the causes your brand supports, as well as explaining how it works. Using in-store print marketing can draw shoppers into your store and motivate these shoppers to make a purchase, since they know it will create a positive impact for a charitable cause.

Get started with creating a seamless post-pandemic in-store retail experience

No matter how you choose to create a seamless in-store customer experience, your customers will be expecting their in-store shopping journey with your brand to be optimized for ease, convenience, and safety. It may not be necessary for your brand to offer all of these strategies at once, so start with one and add in others over time. 

However you choose to create a memorable in-store shopping experience, remember that the goal is to cater to your customers’ needs—after all, happy customers make for loyal customers!

Increase Loyalty and AOV with the Change Commerce Donation App

Change Commerce offers a seamless, end-to-end donation solution for brands of all sizes that enables you or your customers to donate. The feature-rich platform helps retailers create authentic customer relationships through customizable giving experiences.

Try Change Commerce

In-store experience FAQ

What does store experience mean?

Store experience is the overall customer experience that a customer has when they visit a store. It encompasses everything from the store's layout, the customer service, and the quality of the products offered. It also includes the atmosphere and overall feel of the store and how it makes the customer feel when they are there.

What makes a great in-store experience?

  • Friendly and helpful staff: Customers want to feel looked after and appreciated. Staff should be friendly and helpful, offering advice and answering any questions customers may have.
  • Clean and organized store: A cluttered and disorganized store will not provide a great in-store experience. Customers want to be able to find what they need quickly and easily.
  • Interactive displays: Interactive displays give customers a chance to see and experience the product before they buy. They also provide an opportunity for customers to ask questions and get more information.
  • Special offers and promotions: Promotions and special offers can be a great way to draw customers in and encourage them to make a purchase.
  • Comfortable atmosphere: Customers should feel comfortable and relaxed in the store. This will encourage them to stay longer and browse the products on offer.

How do I create an in-store experience?

  • Make sure your store is visually appealing. This can include everything from merchandising to lighting and signage.
  • Create an inviting atmosphere. Make sure your employees are friendly and helpful, and that customers feel welcome in your store.
  • Incorporate technology. Use technology to enhance the customer experience, such as with interactive displays or digital kiosks.
  • Offer personalized service. Offer personalized service to customers, such as free consultations, product demonstrations, and more. 5. Implement loyalty programs. Loyalty programs can help build customer loyalty and encourage repeat purchases.
  • Incorporate special events. Host events in your store, such as product launches, workshops, and more.
  • Utilize social media. Make sure your store is active on social media and use it to promote your events and products.