Jill Pinner, CEO of experiential marketing agency Fizz, talks about the importance of demonstrating tech products in-store.
As the internet retailing market continues to grow, many brands are investing more heavily in their e-commerce and m-commerce services. By eMarketer’s latest estimate, global B2C e-commerce and m-commerce sales are set to reach £879 billion this year thanks to the rapid growth of mobile use and retailers creating more efficient sites for browsers on handheld devices.
While there’s no doubt that consumers are increasingly blending their route to purchase – between stores, online and mobile devices – the fact remains that according to ONS, 90 per cent of retail sales made in the UK last year took place offline. People still overwhelmingly buy from people; that’s a fact.
It’s all very well for brands and retailers to showcase their wares through extravagant responsively-designed websites, microsites and apps. Yet brands can’t afford to invest all that money in digital and overlook the importance of their in-store offering.
If the consumer journey ends with them walking out of a store without making a purchase – if they couldn’t get the information they needed from under-trained staff, for example – then the digital investment has been worthless.
The perfect marketing mix for the digital age uses all the tools available to brands to engage with consumers at multiple points along the road to purchase. Some brands and retailers are so focused on the earlier stages of that journey that they can often neglect customers in store.
Clever marketers integrate new technologies into the mix without abandoning more traditional approaches. It’s therefore of no surprise that two of the most successful tech retailers in the world – Apple and Samsung – now have a comparable in-store approach.
A few weeks ago Samsung faced accusations of aping Apple’s customer service approach to retail after opening ‘Samsung Experience’ shops in the UK. Walk into an Apple or Samsung store and you’re immediately faced with their range of tech products beautifully laid out for consumers to interact with and use.
Well-trained staff are on hand to offer assistance, showcase the products and offer tutorials on how to use them. These staff are in a position – one that can’t be easily replicated online – to demonstrate products which are tailored to each consumers’ needs and play a vital role in boosting attach rate.
However this approach isn’t just for the highest-end retailers. Any brand or retailer can gain from deploying a well-trained in-store team who are familiar with the product range and can answer consumers’ questions, demonstrate the products in action and outline their various benefits.
After all, the power of field marketing is that it’s capable of adding an expert human touch to the tail-end of conversion, making it easier for marketers to reach consumers in a way that adds genuine value to the customer experience.
With so much choice on offer, consumers also value brands that can offer them expert advice. When a consumer walks into the store, they often know which product they need, but not always which brand to opt for. Even those who’ve done extensive research can be overwhelmed by the sheer range of products on offer. It’s one of the reasons why consumers like to see products up close and in the flesh before making a purchase.
Consumers want to touch the product, assess its quality, and have the opportunity to have staff answer any queries they may have. They want to experience the product before they’ve had to part with any hard-earned cash.
Social media and the internet have empowered consumers with the power to feedback positively and negatively to their shopping experience. Brands and retailers that demonstrate respect for the consumer at each step of the path to purchase are being publically rewarded on Twitter and Facebook.
For example, there’s good reason and plenty of evidence why John Lewis is considered the best at customer service. The retailer provides a huge amount of in-store support and enables consumers to spend time interacting with products while also having any questions answered. There’s a lesson to be learned.
Offering live demos from well-trained staff can cement a consumer’s intention to buy in-store. Brands that use live demos in conjunction with new developments in marketing technology can develop a formidable proposition to offer consumers.
About the author
Jill Pinner is CEO of experiential marketing agency Fizz.