Most modern customers want a relationship with the owners and staff of the businesses they frequent. Online shoppers directly message suppliers, dissatisfied consumers instantly post comments on a company's social media page and younger shoppers are more likely to take advice when browsing items in-store than older generations.
According to a recent Accenture survey, shoppers walk a fine line between wanting experiences personally tailored for them and not wanting to share private information. More than half of respondents stated they wanted real-time promotional offers but only 14 percent were willing to share their browser history, for example.
How can a brick-and-mortar store design a space that's intimate and personal but allows shoppers autonomy? Forbes suggested using inventory displays encouraging participation. Apple store displays are an example of product shelving that leads to customer engagement. All of the laptops are open, and the screens are tilted to catch the eye of people passing by. Products proudly displayed in areas where customers have room to use them are much more attractive than items inconveniently hidden away.
A store may not want to bombard guests with clerks and sales reps, but they can encourage participation with products. Once customers feel like the store is welcoming to their involvement, they are more likely to communicate their needs.
Brand Channel highlighted retail spaces that offered their customers food, drinks and places to rest. Many stores encouraged customers to use their products and ask questions. Some even held classes or group events. All of these features create a pleasant shopping experience, but none of them are forced on shoppers. They are made convenient through store layout, visual merchandising and signage.
Intimacy doesn't mean overbearing. If a retail space wants to create a personal experience with a shopper, it should provide clear opportunities for engagement that the customer can find at their own speed.