Retail is as competitive in 2022 as it has ever been. You could make the case that it’s even more competitive now that online shopping is fully entrenched in the American psyche. To win that competition, business experts are beginning to recommend what are being called ‘retail amenities’. What are they and, more importantly, do they work?
Do not think of retail amenities as being like hotel amenities or the amenities people look for when buying a house. Retail is an entirely different ballgame. An amenity in the retail setting is something extra, something that adds to the buying experience. Retail amenities turn a financial transaction into an experience that involves engagement.
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Shipping As an Amenity
Online sellers utilize a variety of tools to make sales and increase customer loyalty. In its purest form, shipping is not an amenity for online operators. It is a necessity. Without shipping, online selling is impossible. Still, are there ways to enhance shipping to make it an amenity? Absolutely.
Standard shipping is the bare minimum. It is the basic service every online retailer has to offer. But it can be turned into an amenity by offering extras like:
- free shipping
- expedited shipping
- reduced rates for combined orders.
Offering consumers options for how they want to receive packages also upgrades functional shipping to an amenity. A good example is shipping lockers. Customers not keen on having packages left on their porches may choose to have them delivered to a locker. They go pick up the packages on the way home from work.
For U.S.-based retailers, international shipping acts as an amenity. It invites overseas customers to shop on U.S. websites. They can buy domestically, but their own shipping services may be lackluster. On the other hand, buying from a U.S. company that ships internationally through a reputable service is a lot more attractive.
According to Texas-based Preferred Shipping, international door-to-door delivery is a big selling point for American e-commerce companies. It is especially attractive when e-commerce operators choose an internationally known service like DHL International Express.
In-Store Retail Amenities
Retail amenities in the online world are limited by technology. In the brick-and-mortar setting, opportunities abound. In-store retail amenities can be just about anything, within reason. Here are just a few of the amenities now emerging in brick-and-mortar retail:
- Lounge Space – Retailers hoping to get customers to spend more time in their stores are starting to offer lounge space. This is a separate space where customers can sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, and visit with one another.
- Interactive Displays – Some retail sectors can benefit from interactive displays that collect user feedback, show customers different options not available in-store, etc.
- Hybrid Shopping – Another popular amenity is hybrid shopping that allows customers to make their selections online but then go to the local retail outlet to pick them up. They can pay online or at the brick-and-mortar location.
- Mobile Checkout – Larger retailers have discovered that some consumers prefer mobile checkout. As they shop, consumers scan items with their phones. They check out on their phones with the store’s mobile app. This avoids the cashier completely.
Retail amenities are those little extras that turn functional shopping into an enjoyable experience. As far as whether they work or not, your personal reaction to the amenities mentioned in this post tells the story.
Retail amenities do work when they scratch the consumer’s itch. The key is finding out what that itch is. Offer the right amenities and a retail operation can improve the customer experience dramatically. That is good for sales.