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5 Ways to Increase Retail Sales Through Creative Customer Experiences

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You know you need to increase your sales, but you don’t want to come off as desperate while you try out new methods to drive buzz around your products. What are some genuinely fun and engaging ways to get your customers shopping with you again?

The key is to put customers first by placing an emphasis on the experiences they have with your brand, and we’ve put together five examples with case studies to help you get started.

Why should you focus on customer experience to increase sales?

76% of consumers now prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material things. It's no longer about your product, it's about the experience you create around it.

Just take a look at how GoPro captured 95 out of every 100 dollars spent on action cameras in the U.S. this year, by spotlighting their customers’ experiences with their products.

PC: GoPro

89% of all businesses have begun competing to create the best customer experiences. But what exactly does that look like?

Research has found the two most common descriptions consumers use to describe what they want from brands are “inspiration” and “meaning.” People want to feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. So, the experiences you seek to create for consumers should provide them with opportunities for things like self expression and community.

Below I’ll cover some examples of companies who have successfully created experiences like these for their own customers and how it increased their sales.

5 Ways to Create Engaging Customer Experiences

1. Create resources and community to keep your customers coming back.

Creating educational content or archiving resources for your customers can be completely free if you host your own blog or forum on your website. Plus, it gives people a reason to revisit your store. Sephora, for example, offers both online beauty classes and Beauty Insider, their online forum for customers and fans of makeup.

PC: Sephora

Beauty Insider is especially helpful to Sephora, because the customers who come together to have discussions and debates on the online forum will reveal the kinds of products or content they’re currently interested in. It's these online community experiences that helped Sephora secure its title as the number one specialty beauty retailer in the world.

Brick-and-mortars can offer the same community experience through in-store classes. Lululemon, for example, has started offering yoga classes in their store. This ensures regular visits, keeps Lululemon at the top of customers’ minds, and has helped increase their sales by 10%.

PC: Lululemon

To build the best community for your customers, your resources and content need to be structured around the things your brand values. That’s why Lululemon, a fitness-focused brand, specifically creates yoga and 5k events.

2. Design your packing to be as unique as your customers.

Your packaging can make or break whether or not a customer actually pauses to take a look at what’s on your shelf. In fact, 72% of consumers say the design of a product’s packaging influences whether or not they’ll purchase it.

Creative packaging can reinforce your love for your brand, while also turning heads and inspiring your customers. Lanna Spa, for example, has started using leaf-like material for their soaps to stand out from their competitors and to reinforce their customers’ sense of individuality when using the product.

PC: 99designs

Apple also owes most of its success to putting its customers’ sense of individuality first with their packaging. Their original mantra of being a Mac vs. a PC (or individual vs. corporate machine) is reflected in the one-of-a-kind sensory experiences they create with their packaging materials.

PC: Swedbrand Group

Unique materials in packaging have been found to positively influence 67% of consumer purchases, and it also encourages customers to share your product on social media channels (something we’ll continue to talk about next).

But if your budget is tight, the changes you make to your packaging don’t have to break your wallet. Stickers can be a quick and cost-effective way to spruce up your packaging—and can even increase sales by 50% if they promote a discount or deal.

3. Showcase your products in creative ways on social media.

91% of all retailers have at least two social media channels. And that’s because social media is a great way to establish the personality and relatability of your brand while also showcasing your products in action.

In fact, 72% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand if their social media's personality is humorous or creative, because it appeals to their own personality.

Ikea, for example, had a 50% increase in web traffic after its “Ikea Real Life” Twitter campaign. The campaign highlighted pictures of Ikea’s furniture positioned to recreate scenes from consumers' favorite TV shows.

PC: Hootsuite

“Ikea Real Life” successfully showed off Ikea’s products while simultaneously creating a fun experience for people who were huge fans of the different TV settings Ikea created.

In order for you own brand to have success creating fun customer experiences on social media, its recommended that you avoid politics or sarcasm and instead just focus on being helpful or creating fun projects that inspire consumers.

4. Create your own semi-annual events to generate buzz and camaraderie.

73% of consumers say that a brand’s annual charity events can positively influence whether or not they shop with them. And if your own charity event is successful, you’ll have an annual period where you know traffic and buzz will increase around your store.

Macy’s, for example, holds an annual Shop For A Cause event where customers who donate $5 to the March of Dimes receive a 25% weekend-long discount on items.

PC: Macys

71% of customers will spend money to support a cause your brand is championing, you just need to pick the right one.

It’s best to draw from your brand’s values and your current audience’s interests when choosing the charity or foundation you support. Make a list of each and take note of any common threads. You can also just keep it close to home and choose your local food bank or children’s hospital.

5. Show your customers you care about their opinions with online polls and quizzes.

Social media polls and online quizzes have become a popular way to gauge what kind of products or experiences customers are interested in. They also give your customers’ a chance to feel like their voice and personality matters to your brand.

That’s why M.Gemi uses Instagram polls to determine whether or not customers like the samples they’re receiving before they actually add them to their store. This greatly increases customer engagement and hype for when the chosen products arrive.

PC: Iconosquare

To get the best results from your online polls:

  • Keep them relevant to your brand and products
  • Post them only once or twice a week (you don’t want to over do it)
  • Actually respond to a handful of customers who leave comments on the poll

Online quizzes can also be used by customers to match with specific products that best suit them. Elephant Pants used this tactic to launch their business and generated over $8,500 from the consumers who liked the pair of pants their quiz paired them with.

PC: Outbrain

The key is to make sure your quiz links back to your online store and the item it matched your potential customer with. In Elephant Pant’s case, they also linked back to their Kickstarter since they were using to the quiz as a way to launch their brand.

Have Fun With What You Do

If you have fun creating an experience for your customers, chances are your customers will have fun too. You need to love what you’re doing for it to feel genuine to consumers.

That’s why brands like Lululemon encourage their staff to actively discuss their workout goals and yoga routines with in-store customers—because at the end of the day, the Lululemon staff are going to host better yoga classes and know the best workout gear to sell to consumers, if they actively care about the healthy experiences they’re creating.

Likewise, you and your staff should only create experiences that appeal to your team so you can put forth the best energy when hosting them.

Related: 4 Major Reasons You Should Consider SMS Marketing for Retail