How to Create Immersive Experiences for Your Customers

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The consumer world today is very different than it used to be. Technology and social media has created new channels of exploration for buyers, who are often able to source everything they need from the comfort of their desk chairs. Thanks to online shopping and the internet, many consumers are more educated about the products they buy, and enjoy the ease and convenience of purchasing online, which sees physical stores working hard to keep their customers coming in to browse their products. The stores point of difference is the experience that it provides for a shopper. Creating immersive and engaging experiences is a strategy that many businesses are exploring in order to keep their shops thriving.

There is no one answer for engaging shoppers that will apply to every store and its motivations; instead, each shop must assess its own customer’s engagement and interests. Typically, these comply with the overall purpose of the store and what it sells. For example, a business selling video games and video game systems might consider setting up the newest game systems within its premises so that its shoppers may come in and try them out before buying. They could even advertise for gaming competitions – may the best player win a prize! Whatever the strategy, it must be done well to ensure that the investment of such immersive systems pay off in the profit margin.

There are many truly productive ways to engage customers, no matter what you’re trying to sell. Let’s look at a few examples of how immersive experiences can increase customer satisfaction and business profit.

1. Making the most of technology

Implementing immersive technological experiences into your store can help attract customers who would otherwise simply click a mouse. One way to innovate the physical store is to implement more in-store digital technology. The physical space can be enhanced by using real-time data to produce real-time promotions, by utilising touch screen technologies, or by utilising QR or NFC codes to provide customers with additional content related to products. In-store photo booths can bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds, as active social media customers turn the present experience into an online post. The key element in this strategy is to give consumers an extra incentive for their social media sharing: if they have an in-store experience to blog about, to talk about socially (either in real life or in the digital world), then not only does that elevate your chance of bringing in future customers, but it creates a memory to link that individual shopper to your store.

Some brands have worked wonders using this technique. Nike has given its customers the chance to use their shoes as canvases for spreading messages, Novalia has created ‘musically playable’ posters, and Technology Will Save Us has manufactured do-it-yourself tech kits to encourage consumers to become their own innovators. A true and honest experience with the product makes it count in the mind of the customer.

2. Make your displays count

If a store’s displays just aren’t interesting, there isn’t going to be much incentive for a customer to pull the product from the racks and try it for themselves. Design and usability is crucial in this area. Displays must be consistent with the company’s image and values, while steering clear of clutter, messiness, and what might bring on a bad case of claustrophobia in your customers. Make sure that your designs and presentations make them comfortable, and are set up appropriately for the space in your store.

The right shelving and furniture can also serve as the perfect display pieces for your merchandise. It’s important that the colour schemes and the visuals are reflective of the overall brand identity of your store, so don’t stray too far from the brand’s values, even when getting ultra creative with your displays.

3. Incorporate audio and music

Music and audio play a vital role in customer experience: it can bring them in, and even drive them out. Music has been shown to have a considerable influence in the subconscious of the shopper. One study performed at the University of Leicester found just how much this rings true: when playing French music in the wine department, shoppers were more likely to purchase French wines, while shoppers were also more likely to reflect their enjoyment of German music in their selection of German wines when Germanic music was playing in the same department. Keep in mind your target demographic when making musical choices, and if you’re going to get creative with audio, then make sure your strategy is integrated into the experience well enough to feel holistic and natural, and not off-putting to your consumers. Directional audio in certain stores may also influence customers to stay longer in one area than they would if no audio were to be played during their shopping experience.

4. Focus your customer service on experience rather than sales

One pet peeve of many shoppers is that the customer service in some stores can become rather demanding – it’s like being subjected to a rather unappealing sales pitch, in which you get caught in the net and can’t seem to get free. Businesses wishing to keep customers coming through their doors should avoid this approach, and instead focus entirely on the experience their customers will take home with them after engaging with their products. Every purchase should be a holistic experience, and one with a positive and socially-altering memory attached, rather than of pressing and bossy retailers that ultimately may leave customers with a poor taste in their mouth when they see their purchases.

Clearly, if you’re a store owner in our current socially-charged and adaptive world, implementing truly successful immersive strategy could not only increase your profit margin, but also help to solidify a truly memorable and exciting brand image in your customers.