When Amazon’s popularity skyrocketed, some believed that brick-and-mortar retail stores as we knew them were dead. Although some Canadian retail chains have closed over the past decade (for example, Sears), others are thriving.
In part, because brick-and-mortar stores have the potential to offer experiences that are difficult to replicate online. Through sampling, testing, and the potential for interactivity, creative retailers can stand out through the in-store experiences they create. Physical stores remain the best space for brand story-telling.
As a retailer, do you really know if your company is offering an excellent in-store experience to your customers? Do you know how you stack up against the competition? You can with Leger’s WOW study.
Customer experience: what is it, and why measure it?
Customer experience goes far beyond the interactions people have in your stores- it’s a result of a complex sum of rational, emotional, and sensory elements which impact how customers perceive your brand, and it’s important for your success.
In a recent article for HubSpot, Jason Bordeaux mentions:
“Customers have more options than ever (your competitors), greater ease of switching power than ever (with so many subscription and freemium options), and more power to influence your business than ever (using social media and online reviews).” 
Knowing how you’re doing today, whether you’re doing better than you were previously, and how you stack up against your competition is critical.
Over the past decade, on an annual basis, Leger has been conducting the WOW study, which is designed to measure which retailers offer an out of the ordinary “WOW” experience which delights their customers. More than 200 retailers (in Quebec and Ontario) are evaluated by their customers on 20 different dimensions of the customer experience.
With WOW, you can understand what is working in terms of the in-store experience you provide, and the main irritants customers face when visiting your stores. WOW offers you the opportunity to delve deeper into the results for your business sector, to see how you stack up against your competitors. WOW also includes trending analysis, which allows your company to monitor its performance year-over-year. WOW allows you to benchmark yourself across your competitive set, measure the impact of in-store innovation, and also get inspired by the performance of players outside your sector who lead by example.
As a retailer, how can you offer a better in-store experience to your customers?
In 10 years of monitoring which retailers provide a WOW in-store customer experience and the retailers that consistently rank well, we’ve learned that the best-performing ones have a few things in common:
- They offer a specialized in-store experience based on the wants and needs of their customers which is different from what the competition is providing. Trying to offer everything to everyone simply doesn’t work anymore. The retailers who perform the best understand their target market: they are attuned to who their customers are, what matters to them, and their core needs. Because they understand the competitive landscape they’re working within, and what their strengths and weaknesses are compared to their competitors, they’re able to offer an in-store experience that sets them apart in the minds of their customers.
- They offer experiences in-store, not just products. It’s extremely easy for customers to access products sold in retail stores online. But brick-and-mortar stores can offer in-person experiences that online environments can’t. For example, people can easily order coffee online, but they can’t smell it, taste it, or hold the mug in their hands. The best of the best use interesting and innovative concepts in their stores, including sampling, testers, and/or on-site testing. They offer creative interactive experiences.
- They continue to build connections with customers outside of the store. Top retailers understand that the customer experience is based on so much more than the in-store experience, and work to build connections with their customers long after the customers have left the physical store. One example of this is through loyalty programs (some of the best of which are currently offered in retail).
But wait! What about my website?
As a retailer, you’ll likely also have a website for your products. Two years ago, Leger launched the WOW Digital study, which provides a complete assessment of your website or mobile app among the customers who use it. You’ll also receive an assessment of five other websites/apps of your choice, among those we’ve tested. This is a great opportunity to gain insight into the competitive landscape for your sector!
With WOW Digital, you’ll be able to walk away with the profile of your online visitors, your website’s strengths and weaknesses in the eyes of customers, and where you stand in terms of your competition. You can find more information about the WOW Digital study here.
Join us to learn more!
We invite you to join us at the 2019 WOW Event in Toronto, where we will reveal the top in-store retail experiences in Ontario, and the best website experiences in Canada!
Featuring a special presentation on 2019 Retail Trends shared by our guest speaker Eric Matusiak (BDO), this is a not-to-be-missed networking event for the retail industry. Admission is free, but registration is required.
Have questions? We have answers!