Do stores need to take shoppers on an ‘experiential learning’ trip to succeed?
A university study finds selling “deep” products at physical stores is a core builder of trust with customers and a primary reason digital native retailers open stores.
Researchers from Colorado State University, Amazon.com and Dartmouth College examined the role of physical stores in selling “deep” products. Researchers posited that products differ in the inspection depth customers require to purchase them. Deep, vs. “shallow”, products require ample inspection in order for the customer to make an informed decision.
Over the course of three studies, transactional data involving 50,000 customers showed that by using a “deep products in-store” promotional strategy to migrate new customers from a “low-value” to “high-value” states, average spending per trip increases by 40 percent, long-term sales increases by 20 percent and profitability increases by 22 percent.
Jonathan Zhang, a marketing professor at Colorado State University, said, in a statement, “The general lesson of our research is for retailers to create a concrete, tangible and multi-sensory experience for customers buying products that require this physical engagement.”
The authors suggested a number of steps for driving such “experiential learning” in physical stores:
- Enhancing merchandising and training sales personnel to walk customers through a deep engagement experience can help customers try and use deep products in-store;
- When a customer is found buying deep products online but their spending is decreasing in value, providing a promotion for deep products in-store can increase customer value;
- A deep/offline onboarding strategy for new customers can be used to encourage first purchases to be deep/offline.
Glossier, which shuttered its two permanent stores during the pandemic, just announced the opening of stores in Seattle, Los Angeles and London, with more planned. Glossier CEO Emily Weiss said in a blog entry, “Each of these stores is designed to inspire everyone to find joy and confidence in their personal beauty style, with a customer journey centered around self-discovery and belonging. People first, products second.”
- There’s a good reason online retailers are investing in physical stores – Journal of Marketing/EurekaAlert
- EXPRESS: How Physical Stores Enhance Customer Value: The Importance of Product Inspection Depth – Journal Of Marketing
- Glossier in 3D – Glossier
- Warby Parker Founders Explain Why They Are Adding 35 Stores After Pandemic – The Wall Street Journal
- Fabletics Announces 2021 Retail Store Expansion – Fabletics
- Is now a good time for retailers to open new stores? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is close product examination the primary benefit physical stores bring that the online shopping experience can’t match? How can stores do a better job of highlighting and enabling inspection depth?