Much has been written about customers' preference for traditional supermarkets over e-commerce. In food, for example, despite the rise of online groceries, consumers are still four times more likely to prefer to buy in-person (38%) than online (9%).
Statista also reporting decline in on-line grocery purchases
Several reasons were offered to explain why consumers prefer in-person shopping to the convenience of online shopping.
One of the reasons is that online shopping convenience is not as convenient as consumers expect. Speed and time reductions lead to higher consumer satisfaction. That's why e-tailers often offer same-day delivery. However, it's not always the case for all products. Sometimes you may have to wait for delivery for a few days, but you need the items much sooner. Or maybe you missed the delivery, and you have to go back and forth to a pickup point, which can be very time-consuming. Add to these examples the hassle of missing deliveries or stolen packages to the list of reasons traditional stores enjoy a competitive edge. Their local stock ensures instant gratification to their customers, who can immediately take their products home. That develops a strong relationship with the brand.
As major online retailers try to reduce the costs of deliveries and returns, many customers experience the return process for online orders to become more complex and time-consuming than they expected or experienced before. The choice of shopping in a traditional store eliminates the hassles and disappointments associated with returns. One trip to the store lets you choose what you need, discover new products, and sometimes experience them without worrying about a potential return. Instead, they take the desired merchandise home!
Another important reason consumers prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store is the human connection and professional advice customers can experience. More than 1 in 5 customers indicate that customer advice is the most crucial reason they prefer shopping in-store. Staff that has the proper knowledge and assists you with advice indeed creates trust. Moreover, personal services and customized advice ensure that a purchase is made more quickly. And the better the advice, the higher the chance the customer will return. Customer experience is, without a doubt, a vital asset of the brick-and-mortar store.
The unfortunate reality of traditional retail is a shortage of available personnel capable of giving such advice. And with consumers worried about inflation in the prices of day-to-day necessities like food, companies are playing defense. The layoffs at certain retail companies are a sign that the industry is bracing for a slowdown and another change in how people shop. Some retailers are becoming focused less on bringing in new customers — an expensive undertaking — and more on retaining those they gained during the pandemic. That means fewer projects that require lots of money and time and more investments where a company can start seeing results quickly. In this business environment, there is no better opportunity for a swift return on a minimal investment than in-store experiential marketing.
Experiential marketing is all about creating an impact in your customer's minds that will stay with them far longer than any advertisement. Unfortunately, too many in store promotions often make no impact on your customers' minds at all and sometimes create a negative one. The primary reason is the use of untrained and unqualified "brand ambassadors" that are employed based on legal minimum wage instead of their ability to engage shoppers and convert them into customers. Brand ambassadors are, first and foremost, sales professionals who must possess the ability, attitude, and product knowledge to engage, educate and entertain shoppers to make in-store promotion a successful undertaking worth the effort.
Many corporate retailers try to leverage field marketing organizations of large CPG brands to increase consumer engagement in their stores. Still, they want to avoid being involved directly with managing experiential marketing challenges and outsource them to third parties without proper vetting. Of course, the major retailers with hundreds of stores have the power to request promotional funding from their vendors without accountability for their use, as a "price of admission" or "cost of doing business" they have to pay. In such situations, the only question being considered is "how much does it cost per event?" and how it can be done at a lower cost? This practice often leads to a waste of money and opportunity.
That often leaves independent retailers and community markets to depend on smaller local vendors and demo marketing companies to help elevate shopper engagement in their stores. Sadly, they often make it too difficult and time-consuming for smaller brands with limited marketing budgets to deploy the resources they have at their disposal.
You will often hear retailers and their vendors complaining about the cost of store demos and other in store marketing events, but that does not stop them from wasting promotional dollars on administration and management instead of investing in the quality of sales personnel. Many retailers must realize how difficult and time-consuming it is for vendor field marketing personnel to schedule in-store marketing events.
It costs little to retailers to start treating vendors' field marketing and in store demo personnel as their partners. The interests of the retailer and field marketers are in complete alignment with each other - both want to engage shoppers and provide them with excellent experiences to convert a shopper into a paying customer. The availability of in-store promotion events management software makes it very easy and inexpensive to attract a lot of marketing investments to support revenue generation in the stores fast.
Stop asking about the cost of an event and start asking about the cost of customer acquisition. You will find experiential marketing partners who will help to elevate traffic in your stores and raise sales per square foot instead of collecting a price for admission.
Stop treating your potential partners as a distraction and make it easy for them to invest in engaging shoppers in your store, and you will see quantifiable results in sales per square foot and sales per customer transaction.
What is your experience with the in-store demos? Why do you think there are so few demos and samplings in most stores? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.