Shoppers have been returning to brick-and-mortar stores with higher expectations than ever before, giving rise to new omnichannel shopping trends.
Modern shoppers use smartphones while inside stores to find coupons, compare prices, check product reviews, and more, according to Salsify’s “Consumer Research 2022” report. Shoppers rely on this digital information to assist their in-store shopping and make buying decisions.
Brands and retailers across industries must change their approach to in-store experiences and develop new ways to interact with customers digitally while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Here are three recent shopping trends and tips for staying ahead of them by creating unique in-person digital shopping experiences for your customers.
1. Test the Waters With Pop-Up Stores
While pop-up stores, also called temporary storefronts, aren’t exactly a new shopping trend, there’s been a recent resurgence in popularity for brands.
In the past, pop-up stores served as a strategy for brands and retailers to test whether a physical store would work for them in a new location. Now, pop-up stores have the added benefit of helping digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) and online-only direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands test the waters with in-person shopping experiences.
Brands can hire a location for a specific period and invite customers to try on products physically. These temporary pop-up stores can effectively bring products to a broader audience, create lasting impressions with customers, and increase revenue.
Some brands even use technology to create targeted pop-up store experiences that blend physical and digital worlds to woo modern consumers.
Take Two Boys Brew as an example. The Australian kombucha brand opened its first pop-up store in Melbourne in 2022 and invited people to come to try its brew. The brand also organised an online contest and encouraged pop-up visitors to enter by scanning QR codes, bar codes that users scan with their smartphones to take them to a pre-decided web address. Winners received one annual subscription of kombucha, as well as two surf vouchers and two dining vouchers from partner brands.
“By displaying some QR codes, brands can offer products for sale without the traditional components of a retail sales floor, including sales personnel dedicated to collecting payment,” says Gavin Bradley, senior creative director for customer experience at Harbor Retail, in an interview with CO—, a publication from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“You can either have the inventory there, or you can maybe next-day it to them. It just opens up a vast array of opportunities. It’s really whatever you want to come up with.”
2. Create Engaging Social Media Experiences
Many people are drawn to well-designed spaces — and they love taking selfies. Using a digital touch point like social media, you can leverage these truths to drive more foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store and boost online engagement with your brand.
There are multiple ways to leverage social media to create omnichannel shopping experiences, including:
- Asking shoppers to take selfies with or using your product with a unique, event- or brand-specific hashtag on TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter;
- Asking shoppers to get creative on TikTok or Instagram and share their videos or photos on these platforms using a unique, event- or brand-specific hashtag; and
- Asking shoppers to check in on Facebook or Instagram to your store location.
KPOP Station is an excellent example of a small retail brand that uses social media experiences to drive engagement. The beauty and pop culture brand opened a new pop-up shop at fashion retailer Papaya Clothing.
To drive store traffic and social media buzz, its marketing team organised an Instagram giveaway — but only for pop-up shop visitors. The rules for the Instagram giveaway were simple:
- Shoppers had to first follow the KPOP Station Instagram account.
- Shoppers then had to check in at the pop-up shop on Instagram.
- Shoppers finally had to post a photo to their Instagram account, tagging Papaya Clothing using its event-specific hashtag.
Image Source: KPOP Station Instagram
By connecting online and in-store conversations, brands have an opportunity to tell a bigger story, create a social shopping experience, and differentiate themselves from competitors, says Jen Forrest, director of social media at digital marketing and advertising agency DEG, in an interview with Marketing Dive.
3. Experiment With Community-Driven In-Store Events
Another recent shopping trend is in-store events like launch parties, free workshops, meetup groups, or poetry readings. Brands and retailers have been using these events to accomplish several goals, including:
- Building a community around the brand or retail company;
- Strengthening relationships with customers;
- Developing engaging brand and shopping experiences; and
- Creating brand evangelists.
Athleisure brand Gym+Coffee recognises this opportunity and uses its stores, which the brand calls “clubhouses,” as a community hub for its customers to get together to socialise around health, exercise, and wellness.
For example, the brand hosted a three-day well-being sanctuary in 2021 that invited its community to relax, chat, and move. They also organise a free yoga class on the first Sunday of every month.
“Our overall store strategy is to develop them as community hubs. We call our stores ‘clubhouses’ because we want them to be a meeting place for our community in that local area,” says Diarmuid McSweeney, co-founder and chief marketing and community officer at Gym+Coffee, in an interview with Shopify.
“From our clubhouses, we host panel events, yoga classes, podcast recordings, skin care master classes, Zumba classes, spin classes, doggy day care meetups — yes, you heard right — and, of course, running groups. This does such a great job of bringing people together and also introducing a new audience to our clubhouse locations,” McSweeney says.
Video Source: Gym+Coffee YouTube
Gym+Coffee promotes itself as “athleisure powered by community,” highlighting its unique approach to using in-store events to create engaged communities of shoppers.
Shopping Trends Draw Shoppers
Pop-up stores, social media experiences, and in-store events — each of these shopping trends point to a new opportunity for brands and retailers to win modern consumers and boost revenue. Find out what works for your business and start implementing it to create the best in-store shopping experiences for your target audiences.
Check out Salsify’s “Consumer Research 2022” report for more insights into changing consumer behaviours and expectations.