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  • Writer's pictureJamie Leeper

Omnichannel Shopping: Efficient Retail Design

Updated: Mar 25, 2019

Brace yourselves; holiday shopping is coming. Every year the numbers grow: More Black Friday shoppers, more money spent, more credit cards swiped, bigger frenzies, crazy sales! The numbers that have grown the most rapidly, however, are the eCommerce stats. Only 50 percent of all holiday spending this year will occur in physical stores (down from 55 percent in 2013). Instead of losing sales and customers to e-commerce businesses, optimize your omnichannel shopping approach.

Online shopping is now the new norm, especially with millennials

There are three channels of shopping: Mass merchants, department stores, and major online retailers. About half of all shoppers plan to visit two to three stores and websites; about a quarter plan three to four. Omnichannel shopping gives consumers the opportunity to move seamlessly between the digital world and the brick and mortar one. Let’s talk about what physical locations are doing with design and layout to capitalize on omnichannel shopping.

Holiday Shopper Behavior & Omnichannel Shopping

Experts agree that there are generally four “waves” of holiday shopping. First we’ve got the Early Holiday shoppers from September to Thanksgiving weekend. These shoppers account for 21 percent of holiday spending. The second wave is exclusively Black Friday, where another 21 percent of holiday money is spent (crazy to think as much money is spent in one day as what’s spent in the two months leading up to that day!). Wave 3 is what’s referred to in the industry as Mid-Season, and accounts for the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not surprisingly, 50 percent of all holiday spending happens in this wave. The final wave, Post-Season Deal-Seeking, accounts for just 8 percent of holiday spending.

We are currently in the Early Holiday season, and ramping up for the big Black Friday and the Mid-Season shoppers in the coming weeks. What can you do, as a retail store, to encourage those dollars are spent on your products? Let’s take a look at the types of shoppers you’ll have and what can be done to close the sale capitalizing on omnichannel opportunities.

Three S’s: Searching, Showroom, Selection

There are three categories of shoppers:

  • Tradeoff Shoppers: Shop around a lot and buy online if it’s cheaper

  • Transitionalists: Shop online a bit, but generally prefer traditional stores

  • Digitalists: Consider online their go-to channel for most discretionary and planned shopping

The key to using online retailers to your advantage is to be aware of the pricing and options competitive with yours. While it may at first seem counter-intuitive, encourage customers to use their mobile devices in the store to research the product. Sixty-seven percent of people surveyed said they use a mobile device to compare prices while in a store (Searching), and some retailers can fight that by offering a price match. Some retailers have big incentives for consumers to be connected when in their stores. Target's Cartwheel app is one that I am familiar with as I personally use it when visiting their stores. I am provided with electronic coupons and offers in exchange for more information about my shopping habits! Sounds like a fair deal to me.

It seems counter-intuitive because naturally, there’s a worry a customer will find a similar product online and order it right then and there. But on the contrary, most customers will use their mobile devices to learn more about the product, and being inside a brick and mortar store with the capability to touch and feel and use the product (Showroom) means the customer is more likely to purchase right then and there (Selection). Your retail store offers a consistent, personal experience shoppers can’t get online; Searching, Showroom, Selection.

In addition, to combat the loss of sales to digital sites some stores offer a “buy online and pick up in store” option. If applicable, this is great idea – it gives shoppers the chance to check out the product in their PJs on their couch, but still have it in their hand the next day.

Consumers can now make online purchases 24/7/365

Layout & Design to Optimize Omnichannel Shopping

Timing is important: Depending on the type and size of store, it’s possible the layout could need rearranging. Keep this in mind as you move forward with holiday display plans. In a similar vein, in-store navigation can make or break the retail space – we recommend building a trail through your merchandise in the most profitable, and useful, way:

  • Narrow, but not too narrow, aisles

  • Point of sale away from entrance

  • Most coveted/popular items at the front to draw people in

  • Sale items at the back to direct traffic through the entire space

  • Displays and signage in front, pulling people in

It’s generally a good idea to create and display signage competitive with online stores. This encourages customers to remember much of what they see online can be found, and taken home that day, in a brick and mortar store. By keeping merchandising consistent – don’t change your logo or design during the holidays – customers have you at top of mind and can easily find you and your products.

Use interactive digital displays whenever possible, if applicable, in your layout. Retail merchandising expert Bob Phibbs argues that “visual displays should contain layers of stimuli” – keep this in mind as you prepare displays. Position highlighted products at eye level – install displays if possible to avoid products and marketing collateral being knocked over by shoppers.

Directing shoppers to the most ideal products can be easy, intuitive, and totally unnoticeable by customers. For instance, showcase special promotions and deals in a way that consumers can’t see the details from the street, but only have to pop in to fully read it. Offer complimentary gift-wrapping – be sure to arrange the floor layout to accommodate this without making it the main event.

Finally, consider holding events in your store. It can be a great way to drum up traffic and keep shoppers offline – events attract crowds and spur spending. This is why we have witnessed a huge evolution of destination retailers in recent years as brands look to entice consumers into their space with cooking lessons, children's play areas and beds where you can take a power nap!

Customer trying out Casper bed in their dream factory

On Black Friday & Other Huge Shopping Days

Be cognizant of safety codes and occupancy of the store. Here’s a quick list of OSHA Crowd Safety Guidelines for perusal:

  • Hire professional security

  • Use a PA system (or bull horn)

  • Barricade or use rope lines if necessary

  • Communicate by radio devices

  • Arrange a separate entrance for employees

We hope this has been a good overview of how to take advantage of the changes eCommerce has caused in the brick-and-mortar retail industry. Mastering omnichannel shopping – with a focus on store design and layout – can make that shift to digital shopping work for your store, in tandem with your objectives, instead of against it. Happy holidays to all!

Happy Holidays from Royal Services!

2018 Holiday Dates

  • Thanksgiving – November 22

  • Black Friday – November 23

  • Small Business Saturday – November 24

  • Christmas - December 25

Merry Christmas from the entire team at Royal Services. Wishing you an incredible 2019. Cheers!

Little girl smiling with Christmas present
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