Elevating the IRL Shopping Experience: Tips for Apparel Brands

Here are actionable tips for apparel retailers to create unique and immersive in-store experiences that keeps customers coming back.

Gone are the days when consumers only had brick-and-mortar stores to shop for clothes. Now, all apparel brands are competing with a smartphone and couch in a much more omnichannel world. Seriously, who doesn’t love shopping from the comfort of their futon?

With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, it's crucial for apparel retailers to up their game and improve the IRL (in real life) shopping experience. By incorporating innovative ideas and leveraging technology, brands can create a unique and immersive experience that keeps customers coming back for more.

And this couldn’t be more important than today. The latest reports show that consumers are shopping like they did before the pandemic: namely, back in-store and in-person. With more shoppers wanting to get out of the house, it’s a vital time for your retail locations to cater to these consumers who have been proven to spend more when in a store than online.

Let’s dive into some actionable tips:

Making Personal Connections in a Digital World

When it comes to improving the IRL shopping experience, first impressions matter. Apparel brands should focus on offering a warm and inviting atmosphere that makes customers feel at home. This could include friendly, knowledgeable staff ready to assist and aesthetically pleasing store layouts that draw shoppers in (think Instagram-worthy).

Of course, nothing beats personalized service when it comes to building customer loyalty. Apparel brands should consider offering services like personal styling, made-to-measure options, and bespoke tailoring. Additionally, they can use customer data in their CRM to provide personalized recommendations and create a shopping experience tailored to individual preferences. This is called clienteling, and is having a major resurgence in the post-pandemic retail-world.

Enhancing the In-Store Experience

Visual merchandising plays a pivotal role in attracting customers and improving the IRL shopping experience. By creating eye-catching displays, using mannequins to showcase outfits, and effectively utilizing store lighting (which has been shown to boost sales by double digits), apparel brands can make a lasting impression on shoppers. Additionally, regularly updating window displays to reflect current trends and seasonal themes can keep customers intrigued and entice them to explore the store.

A smooth and hassle-free checkout process can leave a positive impression on customers and encourage them to return. Apparel brands should invest in efficient point-of-sale systems, provide multiple payment options, and ensure that the checkout area is well-staffed to minimize wait times. Furthermore, offering services like complimentary gift-wrapping and a loyalty program can add an extra touch of personalization and enhance the overall shopping experience.

Creating experiential retail spaces can help apparel brands stand out from the competition and provide customers with a unique IRL shopping experience. This could include incorporating lounge areas for customers to relax, offering refreshments, or even including interactive areas for children to keep them engaged while parents shop. More and more, apparel retailers are keeping social media videos in mind and providing “landings” for the Instagram/TikTok crowd. By offering more than just products, apparel brands can create a shopping environment that customers genuinely enjoy and wish to return to.

Embracing Cutting-Edge Technology

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies have the potential to revolutionize the IRL shopping experience. Virtual fitting rooms, for example, allow customers to try on clothing without the hassle of physically changing. By using AR technology, customers can see how the clothes would look on them, making the decision-making process easier and more enjoyable.

Interactive displays and touch screens can also help engage customers and make the shopping experience more exciting. These technologies can provide information on the product, offer styling tips, and even allow customers to customize their purchases.

Endear’s clients also already leverage Shoppable Stories to send curated pieces to segments of their customers. And because 82% of shoppers check their phones while shopping in-store, these bite-sized mobile lookbooks can enhance their selection experience, helping to guide them to the items they already want to try on.

Creating a Unique Atmosphere

To further improve the IRL shopping experience, apparel brands should invest in captivating store designs that stand out from the competition. This could include eye-catching window displays, creative interior design elements, and unique fitting rooms that make trying on clothes a memorable experience.

In-store events are another great way to attract customers and create buzz around your brand. You have the option to host fashion shows, styling workshops, or even collaborate with local artists to showcase their work, adding a unique touch to the shopping experience. Once scheduled, send out targeted email & SMS campaigns to let your customers in on these exclusive events.

To stay competitive in today's retail landscape, it's vital for apparel brands to set themselves apart with an elevated IRL shopping experience, and ensure that customers keep coming back for more. In doing so, your brand will not only strengthen customer loyalty across the board but also secure a strong presence in the ever-evolving world of fashion retail. Not to mention the added bonus of great word-of-mouth after yet another amazing shopping experience!

So, it's time for apparel brands to step up their game and redefine the IRL shopping experience – after all, the future of fashion depends on it. Luckily, Endear can help. Our CRM built with clienteling at its core has helped hundreds of retailers offer a personalized shopping experience both online and in-store.

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