How to make your retail store stand out? It is safe to say that several retailers are asking that very question. Hence, the challenge of standing out isn’t limited to doing something different, but building a culture of innovating at the store level.

It is not enough anymore to do what everyone else is. Instead, you need to look at how to make your retail store stand out using interesting means and even crowdsourced ideas.

In this article, we cover both time-tested and new means of giving your physical presence that extra appeal. The basics like the right store staff are just as important as any new techniques you may want to try.

How to make your retail store stand out: Strategies old and new

  1. Hire the right people:

    The sales staff you hire should be courteous, well-informed, helpful and present without coming on too strong. Settling for lesser than the best will cost you money and consumer loyalty. Care for your store staff and it will come back to you multiplied.

    Extra brownie points if your sales staff love their workplace, espouse your brand’s mission and embody the essence of your brand. Some studies report that trained staff can amp up sales by 69% at every store location.

    Having the right people in place means you can allow them the flexibility to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. It takes some of the heat off of you. Your retail store stands out in the mind of the customer as a place where they get exceptional service.

    Several local stores get this just right because they have close interactions with their customers. Observe how things work in these stores for valuable insights.

  2. Location, location, location:

    Sometimes being in the right place at the right time, with the right layout and the right staff is the first slam-dunk in making your retail store stand out. You need to set up shop in an area where you are close and easily accessible to your target demographic.

    A 2000 study from Wharton School of Business, UPenn, is just as relevant today- it talks about local stores and why people prefer them over everything else. Local stores provide access, which even in today’s times, is far more valuable than placing an online order and waiting for it to come.

    Moreover, if you are the first store of your kind, you score the first-mover advantage too. If there are complementary businesses you can tie up with for co-promotions, like gift cards at a nearby restaurant, that’s a major plus.

  3. A sumptuous storefront or window display:

    Think “Confessions of A Shopaholic” level of window attractiveness.

    It might be worth your while to hire a professional window dresser for a while until you figure it out yourself. Set yourself apart from other competing stores in the area.

    If they are showing pastels, go in for eye-catching primary colors or gold/silver accents. Where they are subtle, go big and bold.

    It also helps if you follow the trends in your sales area using popular magazines and use those colors and themes for your storefront. This way, people who follow the same trends are more likely to visit.

  4. A pleasing in-store layout:

    The first goal in- you have managed to bring people in. What’s next? You need to create store space your customers will never want to leave. Spark curiosity in your walk-ins and make it easy for them to browse and shop.

    Did you know that over 90% of shoppers turn right when they enter a store? Small hacks like placing your most interesting displays on that side can already increase sales.

    Think beyond aisles and shelves. Plant surprises at every corner. Create harmonious and fluid in-store displays through a combination of straight, slanted and curved placement of shelves or tables, but maintain a clear route.

    Play with lighting and textures. Place a sign inviting people to feel the fabric of a mannequin’s outfit. Place a comfortable padded chair and a lamp in a corner, especially if you own a bookstore. Basically, think like your customer and get creative.

  5. Make strategic groupings:

    “Styling” goes beyond windows and mannequins. You can create designated spaces to highlight outfits, season-specific clothes, and products, theme-based grouping such as resort wear, office wear and so on.

    If you sell pet supplies, having a designated area for pets to play or be groomed while their parent’s shop can be very useful. Of course, you also need someone to watch the space and prevent cat-fights (did that pun land?)

    Add accents like plants or toys or other theme-appropriate materials to make these store areas pop. A designated theme space with clear, consistent signage is very useful when promoting sales and offers, too.

    We love this resource from the Retail Doctor Bob Phibbs on how you can arrange your products together to appeal to your target audience,

  6. Adopt AI:

    AI- artificial intelligence is one of the champions in retail. You can harness it to make your store display more interactive.

    For instance, install “smart mirrors” in trial rooms that suggest to the customer how to better style a look. With a CAGR of 11.8%, smart mirrors are retail’s hottest new investment right now, and with good reason.

    Smart mirrors can reflect back everything from complimentary makeup to virtual accessories. You can get valuable data on buyer behavior and use it to tailor better promotional and targeted campaigns.

    AI can also be useful for self-checkout at your stores. How can you use AI for your specific needs? Understand where the greatest bottleneck is, or at what point most customers leave.

    Once you know what is happening and why you can use smart technology to streamline/ speed up the process to provide additional information at that juncture.

  7. Go Omnichannel:

    This covers every aspect of retail and omnichannel retail is expected from everyone today.

    Giving your customer options to buy at one location, picking up from a nearby store, or returning it at another offers multiple touch-points and chances to interact.

    All of this is possible today with automation, and an inventory management system is the backbone of good omnichannel retail.

    The customer loves options and sales channels are no exception. This approach also promotes brand loyalty and stickiness through positive experiences and convenience. A satisfied customer is more likely to buy, keep buying, and recommending your store than a walk-in customer or new convert.

  8. Have a (shoppable) social media presence:

    If you are not taking advantage of shoppable media features like Instagram’s shoppable stories, Facebook marketplace and such, you might be missing out.

    One SproutSocial report shows that those who visit a brand’s Instagram handle have a 37% chance of visiting the store’s physical location. Of the 80% of people who visit the Instagram Shop, close to 40% end up making a purchase.

    Shoppable media adds extra layers of engagement in addition to being one more shopping portal. You get to create interesting content around your themes and products, too. The sky is the limit.

  9. Reward loyalty:

    Once a customer has a relationship with your brand, reward them for it. Loyalty programs, exclusive offers, early-bird specials, offer codes, pre-launch offers, birthday/anniversary specials, personalized selections, etc. are several ways of making your customers feel like royalty.

  10. Be memorable:

    Again, make every effort to occupy your customer’s mind space by giving them a clear-cut brand identity to remember. Be consistent in your branding and message.

    “That quaint little boutique,” “The one with the best displays,” “The bakery that has a changing menu” and so on are ways a customer can remember you and phrases they pass on when talking about your store to other people.

    Learn how people think of you, collect active feedback and implement it to further refine your brand identity.

Which of these tips have you already tried implementing? Which ones do you need more guidance on? Tell us in the comments.

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Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.