how 3 industry giants are shaking up the in-store shopping experience

by: PLAY

Despite ongoing murmurings and dramatic news flashes about bricks-and-mortar going out of business amidst the rise of e-commerce, there are some companies who are stepping up and proactively adapting their physical stores for the changing consumer landscape.

Today, we'll be discussing the shift in consumer expectations of retail experiences, as well as sharing 3 examples of retail giants who are making waves in the Australian in-store environment by levelling-up the shopping experience.

And don't worry, we're not talking about crazy unattainable tech - these are down-to-earth ways that retailers are already winning in-store today. We're asking: how can brands stay competitive in a disruptive market, and what can the retail industry learn from these trailblazers?

better-retail-experience-for-customers Elevating the shopper experience.


"Your customers crave personalisation, education, entertainment and enlightenment. While it’s easy for us to blame globalisation and Amazon, the fix to our retail woes lurks right inside your own store. It is about creating unique experiences that capture your own brand promise while purposely helping your customers to reach their own aspirations."

- Amy Roche, Retail Rockstars.

Many physical stores are shutting down, and the presence of Amazon and other global e-tailers feels like a threat to local players.

However, in challenge there always lies opportunity - whether that comes from upping the omni-channel experience (over 60% of in-store customers have had an online touch point prior to shopping), diversifying offerings or creating a more dynamic shopping experience.


“There’s certainly massive potential in Australia for stores to think beyond basic service to how they can make the physical component of contemporary shopping an event that consumers look forward to and talk about."

- Jo Masters, Senior Economist at ANZ.

So, what are some innovative retailers doing to elevate the customer experience? What can we learn from these examples about how to keep today's shoppers happy? 

in-store shopping for retail trend



While many other retailers struggle in a volatile market, home-retailer Adairs has experienced record profit, sales and online growth this year due to a focus on fashionable ranges and an enhanced shopping experience backed by loyal shoppers (over 70 percent of sales now come from their loyalty program, Linen Lovers).

Inside Retail recently reported on the success of Adairs’ homemaker centres, which will be the retailer's core focus in 2019 (rather than traditional shopping centres). These centres provide an opportunity for the bedding retailer to move towards inspiring shoppers with larger store formats that offer a wider range of complementary categories and help to differentiate the offering.

During a previous visit to an Adairs, one of our team ended up buying pillowcases with puns ("let's avo-cuddle"!) and a pineapple shaped lamp, rather than simply grabbing something from the sale and leaving. These kind of extras help the experience go from bedding-buying-efficiency to a more emotional "how can I create a home?" feeling. 

The company is also planning a range of online-only products, and will focus on making the online experience easier for customers by introducing product recommendations and providing a 'best in class' omni-channel shopping experience.


"Close to half (43 per cent) of consumers use at least five channels to engage with brands. This includes physical stores, contact centres, mail, websites, live chat, social media and mobile apps. With more consumers now expecting omni-channel interactions, brands need to ensure integrated and cohesive consumer experiences or risk losing customers."

- SAP Hybris. 



IKEA Australia is replacing the infamous 'self-service' area with home delivery in order to reduce the hassle for customers who currently have to traipse up and down multiple aisles to get their bed frame or sofa parts together.

The company aims to focus on the inspirational, emotional journey created by the classic 'walk-way' full of tips and innovative home ideas.


“We are in the business of emotions. We want you to come into our stores and say, ‘I don’t like that but I like that one’, start a conversation with a partner. It’s about feelings and emotions, that is the most important part.”

- Jan Gardberg, Australia country manager at IKEA.

Other changes include investing in online shopping, cheaper products, smaller 'pop-up' shop formats in shopping centres and a range of recycling initiatives... all of this in a bid to double sales and share in Australia over the next decade.innovative-furniture-shop-like-ikea

JB Hi-Fi.

The consumer electronics retailer now ranks amongst the world's top 250 largest retailers - the third Australian retailer to join the list. Last year, JB Hi-Fi's customer satisfaction rating was 90.1 percent, even topping IKEA at 88.9 percent.

So, how are they doing it? By hiring knowledgable staff and focusing on shopper experience.


“One of the underlying strengths of JB is this sense of bargain shopping, which is not dissimilar to Aldi. Also, like Aldi, when you visit a store you have a sense of spotting things that might be new.”

- Brian Walker, Chief Executive of Retail Consultancy.

Shoppers walk into JB Hi-Fi knowing that the store is a 'go-to' for electrical products. They know they're likely to grab a bargain and the staff are not only technical experts, but also come across as highly engaged. Staff members are happy, and even given the freedom to create their own displays.

By investing in the online platform as well as building trust through in-store interactions, JB is looking to create a future-proof omni-channel experience. The company cleverly balances online convenience with the invaluable ability for shoppers to talk to an expert face-to-face.


So, what can we learn?

In summary, these retailers are PLAYing with the following shopper satisfaction strategies: 

  • Creating a seamless omni-channel experience
  • Becoming more of a 'go-to' or 'one stop shop'
  • Experimenting with innovative and engaging store formats
  • Becoming an accessible source of inspiration
  • Making shopping hassle-free and convenient
  • Adding value through human connection and expertise
  • Driving loyalty through initiatives and programs

These approaches demonstrate a more holistic approach to keeping shoppers happy. Essentially, these retailers are more than 'just a store'... they are a source of entertainment, inspiration and education. This kind of shopping becomes an enjoyable, easy and interconnected experience - a strong foundation for consumer trust.

Still think Amazon is the be-all-and-end-all of Aussie retail? As Kate Morris (CEO Adore Beauty) put it:


"Amazon is all about efficiency. It's not about love. Those big marketplaces, they're very impersonal. And they're fine if you're just re-purchasing, or you already know what you need... Sure, it'll come, in a box, probably on time. But if you want a shopping experience, you're not going to get that."

As we've harped on about time and time again, when it comes to shoppers making purchasing decisions: it's all about connection and emotion. Is it time for your business to tap in?


Over to you.

In order to provide a value-based and customer-driven experience, it is imperative to understand your consumers' attitudes, interests and behaviours - and that starts with market research!

If you'd like to find out how we're helping retailers get closer to their consumers, get in touch on 
02 8097 0200 or email any time.

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about the author


A boutique insights agency who love to help you decipher complex customer behaviours. Big fans of snappy reports and hot chips. We call Sydney and Melbourne home but LOVE to travel (although lately, our most exciting trip has been from the study to the fridge).

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