Stay a While: Encouraging Customers to Hangout in Your Store

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You don’t just want customers to come to your store, you want them to want to be there. After all, the longer a customer is in your store, the more likely they are to make a purchase. A good store layout and a welcoming atmosphere can go a long way, but any extra incentive can help. Here are a few suggestions from Vend blogger Francesca Nicasio on how you can encourage your customers to hang out in your store a bit longer.

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1. Make room for interesting experiences

Rather than devoting all the space in your shop for selling products, consider allocating certain areas for experiences. Perhaps you can dedicate a particular part of your store for sampling products. Some Origins stores, for example, have large sinks where shoppers can try out soaps, lotions, and scrubs.

Not a fan of samples? Create an area where customers can hang out or have fun. Take for instance, Forever 21. Some of its stores have photo booths where people can snap pictures between shopping.

Meanwhile, certain Disney stores have entertainment corners in their locations, where parents and kids can sit around and enjoy Disney movies and shows.

Try to adopt these retailers’ strategies in your business. Have a think about any experiences that your customers would want to have in your store. What would make them want to hang out or stay longer? Find the answer to that and make it happen.

2. Make your store Instagrammable

The rise of photogenic pop-up spaces like the Museum of Ice Cream shows that today’s consumers would travel — and stick around — in places that offer photo opportunities.

Modern shoppers love sharing their experiences on social media and forward-thinking retailers are capitalizing on this by setting up Instagram walls in their stores.

Consider Morning Lavender, a retail store and cafe in Orange County, CA. Morning Lavender has a large flower wall in its location that customers love posing in front of.

See if you can do something similar in your space. Create spaces in which shoppers can hang out and snap photos. Doing so won’t just get people to stick around, but it can extend your social reach as well.

3. Offer in-store services or classes

Help customers make better use of your products by either assisting or educating them. Consider cosmetics stores such as Mac and Sephora, which provide makeup services on-site. Customers are pleased because they get a nice makeover, while the retailers are able to not only move products but also connect and get to know shoppers better.

Meanwhile, the Nike store at South Coast Plaza in California offers run analysis, bra fitting, pants hemming, and personal shopping.

Another approach would be to hold classes. Sephora, for example, holds free makeup and skin care classes in its stores. The subject matter ranges from beginner topics (e.g., “Makeup 101,” skincare basics, etc.) to more advanced makeup tricks (e.g., contouring, eyelash wings, etc.). What’s great about classes is that in addition to getting people to stick around, they also pave a natural path to purchase.

In Sephora’s case, the associates mention that people can buy the products they used in the class. No one is required to buy, though. Sephora’s team does a good job of not putting any pressure on class attendees.

They do make it a point to follow-up via email. Everyone who signs up a Sephora class gets a message thanking them for attending, and the email includes links to the items they’ve tried, in case the customer is interested in buying them.

4. Serve food and drink

Some retailers are experimenting with food and drink concepts to get shoppers to stick around. According to RetailDive, one example of this comes from Kohl’s, which started adding Kohl’s Cafes at its Menomonee Falls and Delafield, Wis. locations.

Similarly, Urban Outfitters has partnered up with popular chefs so they can open in-store restaurants that are tailored to the local tastes of different markets.

Do note that your food and drink efforts don’t have to be big or fancy. In some cases, simply offering shoppers a bottle of water can do wonders. Feeling festive? Pop a bottle of champagne to serve in-store.

5. Set up in-store charging stations

Looking to get your mobile-centric shoppers to stick around? Try setting up charging stations in your stores. That’s what retailers such as Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus, and Under Armour are doing.

Business Insider reports that these stores are just some of the merchants utilizing mobile charging stations to encourage people to head to their stores and actually stay there. The charging stations come with compartments where people can leave their phones in while going out and about. All shoppers need to do is “enter his or her phone number, choose a security image, select an available locker, insert the phone, and plug it into the relevant charging cord.”

According to ChargeItSpot, the provider of the above-mentioned charging stations, retailers that offer in-store charging spots saw a 54% conversion rate for customers completing a purchase while charging their devices.

So far, it looks like the solution is keeping both retailers and customers happy.

6. Strike a balance between fast and convenient vs. unhurried and experiential

You may have to cater to two types of shoppers: those who are purposeful and want to get in and out quickly, and those who are willing to stick around for worthwhile experiences. The key is to find balance and serve both.

Check out what grocery chain Lowes Foods is doing. According to the WSJ, the retailer “offers self-checkout and express lanes as well as an online order and delivery option for shoppers who are in a hurry. For those who aren’t, 29 of its 94 stores offer options like clipping herbs from an in-store garden, samples at a craft beer bar and a “Chicken Kitchen” that features staff dance performances.”

Target does something similar at numerous locations. While the retailer has express lanes and offers convenient services like in-store pickup, many of its branches have in-store dining and coffee shops where customers can just hang out.

7. Go beyond sales targets when incentivizing associates

While sales targets are extremely important, you may also want to consider metrics such as customer engagement. Consider Origins, which started testing new staff compensation plans that “rewards guides for how well they collect customer information from shoppers and keep in touch with them.”

Doing so incentivizes the staff to not just focus on selling products, but to genuinely connect–and keep in touch–with shoppers.

If it makes sense for your business, see if you can adopt a similar strategy.

Bottom line

Retail success isn’t just about attracting people into your shop — it’s also about getting them to stay and buy.

So, have a think about how you can do just that in your retail store. Should you offer product samples? Incorporate more services? Be more Instagrammable? Whatever the case, put your ideas to work and see what happens!