Consumers enter a store and hear the sound of music, smell a fresh cologne, and see floral displays paired with the latest spring garments. These elements that enhance the shopping experience have been sewn into the fabric of the retail industry and better known as “retailtainment.” In George Ritzer’s Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption, the term “retailtainment” is defined as the use of ambiance, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise.” This is a classic strategy almost every retailer uses to engulf the consumer into an atmosphere. Many retailers are focused on not just selling the product, but selling a lifestyle.
However, the current digital climate has made it increasingly difficult to keep retail customers engaged. According to RetailWire, over 48% of overall purchases were made online. There is an increasing focus towards the online shopping experience and mobile shopping applications. Consumers are spending less time shopping at brick-and-mortar establishment and more time online. The effect of this can be seen in massive store closing, such as Macy’s, and increasing vacancy rates for retail spaces. Despite the decline, there are retailers that are integrating the digital and in-store shopping experience to boost sales revenue. From digital shopping walls to location-centric mobile applications, retailers are getting creative. Pairing the digital shopping experience with market research can truly elevate customers’ shopping experience.
In order to develop a successful in-store shopping experience, the retailer must be familiar with their customers and targeted audience. Many retailers are deploying follow-up shopping surveys to their current customers. However, for retailers to reach other audiences they need an external tool such as online panels of respondents. Panels that consist of pre-screened respondents and collect multiple demographic and sociographic data points to complete the respondents’ profiles. This allows retailers to create a customized panels of their targeted audience. Retailers could use data collected from surveying these panels to develop a digital shopping experience for their customers.
In addition, using online panels also allow retailers to predict trends in consumer behavior. Retailers are able to collect quality data from online panels that will show what certain audiences value in their shopping experience as well as what they lack. This information can be used to craft digital experiences such as QR code scanners that allow shoppers exclusives ways to bring their online shopping experience into the physical store. Retailers can use the geographical elements collected from online panels to identify what store locations would benefit from creating a digital shopping experience.
Ultimately, online shopping is on track to eclipsing the in-store shopping experience. However, retailers are creating innovative ways to implement a digital shopping experience inside their physical retail establishments. For retailers to enact a successful digital store experience model they need to conduct market research to understand their current customer’s preferences, gauge their target audience, track trends in consumer behavior, and evaluate the geographical location of the store that will host a digital shopping model. By using online panels, retailers can obtain data to use in the development of their digital shopping experience. It is apparent that market research has the capability to provide tools that will elevate the customer’s’ shopping experience.