While online shopping becomes increasingly popular as a retail avenue, some brick and mortar stores are struggling to stay relevant. Conflicting studies either say that physical shopping is dead, or that Canadians still prefer to make their purchases in-store. No matter which is the case for your core customer base (because it certainly varies across different audiences), it is important to spruce up the in-store experience and keep customers coming back. Below are the TACK10 Tuesday Top 5 ways to do just that.

1. Branding
We are often told as children not to judge a book by its cover. Now, in order to reach the consumers you want to reach, it is important to develop the best cover possible and stand out from the crowd. This can include the colours, signage, layout, packaging, and merchandising that make up the look and feel of your stores. Just like in any industry, it is imperative that you build your branding around not only what reflects your company’s values, but what speaks to and attracts your core audience.

2. Exclusivity
Customers love gaining access to exclusive deals or products. These are often unlocked through online channels and available to e-commerce shoppers, but incorporating them into your brick and mortar stores can encourage customers to walk through the doors. Host exclusive in-store deals or launch fun store-only products and giveaways to keep your audience interested and engaged in person.

3. Experiences
Activations and other forms of experiential marketing go a long way when it comes to consumer engagement. What better place to activate then somewhere close to your own stores? By researching the best fairs or trade shows that are local to your core audience, you can plan experiences that will not only engage those people, but drive them into your stores through coupons or contesting.

4. Simplicity
Online shopping is easy. In order to compete with e-commerce and bring more people into your physical stores, it is important to ensure the shopping experience is as simple as possible. This comes into play through the availability of staff members (but not in an overbearing way), the presentation of merchandise, the ability to try products out before purchase when relevant, and even the payment methods accepted at the point of sale. When it comes to these payment methods, be sure to stay up-to-date and have current technology available whenever possible.

5. Touch & Feel
One of the most common reasons for shopping in brick and mortar stores is the ability to touch and feel product before purchase, something that e-commerce stores lack. Play this up! When your customers are in store, encourage them to try things on, to pick up product, and to experience all your company has to offer. Make the shopping experience as immersive as possible to contrast the sometimes one-dimensional nature of clicking pictures of products on a website.

Bonus: Using Online to Your Advantage
It is a fact that your customers are online. They scroll through social media, and research topics and products on Google. In order to get them entering your stores, you should leverage their online usage and make it work to your advantage. Promote in-store exclusives and experiential activations on your online channels in order to encourage people to visit you in person. Be sure to create your content in a way that is rich with calls to action, and position the brick and mortar visit as an experience not to be missed.