Why National Retailers are Turning Towards Local Stores to Improve Customer Experience
86% of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience. When it comes to retail, the customer experience has been pretty stagnant for years. But some major retailers are taking lessons from small businesses and improving customer experience by turning towards boutique local brick and mortar stores.
When it comes to improving the customer experience a few national retailers are doing this by focusing on local engagement. Using digital queues found in things like customer reviews, social media mentions, and photo or video engagement with the brand, retailers are figuring out how to improve the customer experience. By combining the customer digital experience with a local strategy to improve customer experience, retailers are giving an entirely new meaning to your average shopping trip. Let’s take a look at who these national retailers are and their approach on enhancing the customer experience.
Earlier this month, Nike opened its first Nike Live store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Around the same time, Nordstrom announced its plan to open two new Nordstrom Local stores this fall, after the success of their first Nordstrom Local that opened October of last year. These stores are following in the footsteps of retail giant, Amazon, who opened up their first of 13 Amazon Books brick and mortar locations in 2015 and has been expanding their focus to more physical store types. The increased focus on local stores by brands who are already competitive online shows one thing, these brands see the value in improving customer experience, especially at the local level.
Customer Experience Created with Brand Loyalists in Mind
One of the biggest details all these local stores have in common is their commitment to customer retention by appealing to their biggest brand loyalists. Acquiring a new customer costs 6x more than keeping an old one.
Nike Live is built around the idea of serving local NikePlus members. From exclusive member rewards, fitting room reservations through the Nike App, and in-store or curbside app purchase pick-up, Nike Live is designed around improving the customer experience for their biggest brand loyalists. This local store isn’t built for Nike newbies, it’s designed for Nike enthusiasts who already love the brand.
Source: Robert Rooks Photography
Nordstrom Local, opened their store with everything (including the kitchen sink) except for inventory. Instead of shopping their traditional 175,000 square foot department store, customers can now get a new experience in less than 3,000 square feet. This new concept focuses on improving the customer experience with several interworking features like:
- In-store and curbside purchase pick-up
- Personal stylists and Trunk Club memberships
- Returns to any online retailer (Yes, that’s right, you can return an Amazon purchase at a Nordstrom Local store)
- Same-day delivery supplied from nearby Nordstrom department stores
- A nail bar
- Wine, beer, and juice bar
- Shoe and handbag repair
- Tuxedo rentals
Their local store is one stop shop for customers. They can order clothes online beforehand, get them altered, return if needed, and pay off their credit card bill all while enjoying a cup of joe. The store has been described as “futuristic” and the feedback from customers is impressive.
Source: University Village
If you get past the irony of Amazon bringing back bookstores, the introduction of Amazon Books has proven successful as they continue to build more locations. By carrying over the benefits of Amazon Prime to their bookstore, Amazon appeals to brand loyalists by bringing them an entirely new way to shop with Amazon. From books, to groceries and other various pop-up stores, Amazon is focused on providing customers with a physical location to shop for their same great products. By adding in additional discounts and even reserved parking for Prime members, it makes becoming an Amazon Prime member more beneficial than just 2-day shipping. You can even buy the book or product you want through your Amazon app but instead of waiting for shipping you can walk out with the physical product right then and there.
Bringing the Online Experience Offline
Today’s customer experience isn’t limited to either online or offline, today’s best brands know how to integrate the two experiences. In fact, 84% of companies who are customer-centric put added focus on the mobile customer experience and 39% of outperforming companies have locked down the digital-physical strategy. And the local shops we’ve mentioned are no exception.
All three of these stores rely on customers interacting with their app in-store. Nike and Amazon utilize member codes to unlock exclusive savings or rewards. Nordstrom, on the other hand, relies on online purchases to drive in-store traffic, as without merchandise it can throw off a consumers’ expectations of the store.
Source: University Village
Amazon doesn’t even have prices in its bookstore. Instead, shoppers can scan the barcode and make a purchase all from their mobile device. Instead of prices, the books feature a review just like you would find on their website. Amazon’s seamless integration with their existing platform has been brought over to their other physical stores. At Amazon Go (a convenience store), they don’t even have cashiers you purchase everything online and simply pick up what you need in store. Amazon’s recently acquired Whole Foods offers exclusive member discounts that can be redeemed by scanning your unique Prime QR code. These integrations are bridging the gap between online and offline experiences in a new and exciting way.
Why Local Matters
When trying to improve the customer experience, you can’t expect all customers to interact with your brand the same way. There’s a reason why McDonald’s only offers “Spam and Eggs” at their Hawaii locations. Local tastes, habits and lifestyles matter when it comes to creating a positive experience for customers.
Nike designed their Nike Live location with the LA lifestyle in mind. Not only do they have things like curbside pick-up to keep up with LA’s fast-paced lifestyle, but they also carry the products LA consumers want most. People in LA love to run and hike and those interests are showcased in the products they carry.
Nordstrom, who also has an LA location, knows how busy their customers are that’s why they offer to ship returns to any online retailer in addition to their easy curbside pick-up, as well. These concepts make it a one-stop-shop for the online shopper strapped for time.
Amazon Go, the interesting “cashier-less” convenience store is based in the heart of downtown Seattle. This location is close to businesses and placed where foot-traffic is heavy. Seattle is not only the headquarters for Amazon corporate, but the perfect place to trial their “Go” stores as their purpose fits the tech-savvy and trendy lifestyle of its customers.
Amazon, Nike, and Nordstrom are some of the largest names in retail. So they must be on to something with these local-concept stores. By focusing on a local market and appealing to their specific needs, these brands aim to increase customer retention, create brand loyalty, and improve the overall customer experience.
If you’re looking to improve your local retail strategy and improve customer experience, look to your reviews for an insight as to how to get started. The Senior Vice President of Customer Experiences for Nordstrom, Shea Johnson, had this to say in their recent announcement about adding new Nordstrom Local stores, “We’re learning a lot from customers through our first Nordstrom Local store on Melrose and we’re looking forward to learning even more from the addition of the Brentwood and downtown LA locations”.
All of these local stores were hit with amazing feedback, as every location ranked over 4-stars on Google, take a look at some of the reviews below.
Your customers will tell you what they need, all you have to do is listen. By keeping your listings clean and up-to-date, not only will your target local audience be able to find you, but you’ll be able to find them. If you’re thinking about improving your customer experience by catering to local needs, you need to have an ear to the ground on what those specific needs are.
Our Chatmeter platform is designed to help you gain insight into your customer’s wants and needs. Looking at things like listing accuracy, social media mentions and media, as well as customer sentiment in reviews, will help you get a better understanding on how to improve the customer experience.
Once you have an idea of how to improve, use local keywords and descriptions to help optimize your new local experience. Creating Google My Business posts and social media posts to drive traffic to your stores is a great way to get more local engagement with your business. Listen to your customer, understand their needs and create an experience that changes the way people interact with your brand.
Chatmeter’s platform is the perfect place to analyze customer needs. Find out how our platform can help your brand increase local visibility and find ways to improve the customer experience by scheduling a free demo today.
What are your thoughts on national brands investing in local stores? Comment below!