The customer experience is central to the success of most commerce strategies. Today’s shoppers want more than the opportunity to just buy stuff; they want a shopping experience. And they expect to be put at the heart of this journey.

Personalisation is one way retailers can achieve this. Personalisation allows brands to create relevant offers and content. The more a retailer knows about its customers, the easier it is to devise a sales and marketing strategy that appeals directly to them. For example, information about a consumer and their buying habits can be used to predict what they might be interested in and promote a particular product. And, while personalisation can be used to deliver maximum impact online, store-cards, digital touchpoints, mobile apps, and GPS-triggered tech can also be used by retailers to help provide a more tailored experience in store.

However, there is another way to help create a rich and personalised shopping experience, without the need for specific customer details.


What is contextualization? 

Contextualisation helps retailers to reach the right customer, in the right place, at the right time. Central to this approach is understanding your buyers, and what makes them tick.

Every retailer has an ideal customer group, whether that’s affluent women over 40 with an eye for quality, or Millennials with a passion for fast-fashion and individuality. By creating a buyer persona (a semi-fictional representation of this ideal shopper), based on the data held about current customers and supporting market research,  retailers can use this information to appeal directly to consumers depending on where they are in the shopper journey.

Put into practice; contextualisation is used by a number of retailers to change the products that feature on their websites depending on the weather. Likewise, Dannon Yogurt recently ran a triggered billboard campaign to appeal to its target audience based on real-time traffic data; with drivers seeing one of four different ads, depending on the current level of congestion.


Contextualization in store design

When it comes to retail environments, context is key, and each store must appeal to its target audience.

Consider Fat Face, for example, a leading designer of clothing and accessories designed for people that enjoy an active lifestyle, Fat Face creates a welcoming and bright environment, with a light, fresh colour palette that reflects the outdoors environment. Using clothes and outdoors equipment, the brand can contextualise its visual merchandising to reflect the changing seasons and the corresponding activities that its target audience is likely to be interested in at that time.


The predictability trap

The unfortunate truth is that many stores have become predictable, with little to distinguish between retailers when it comes to lighting and displays - resulting in decreased shopper engagement.

Even those stores that do invest in contextual retail design run the risk of falling out of sync with customers if this isn’t revised and updated regularly.

For example, despite promises to turn up the lights in its darkly-lit, perfumed stores, Abercrombie & Fitch is facing sales losses after refusing to accept that its fictional cool-kid persona no longer exists. Despite the instore design remaining static, the brand’s customers grew up and moved on, while at the same time, the retailer failed to connect with the next generation of shoppers – a generation which has very different needs, wants, and motivations than the one before it.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s current predicament highlights the importance of not only getting to know your customers, but understanding the changing context of the world they live in, and how that can impact their shopping behaviour.


Staying relevant

Relevancy is a challenge that faces all retailers and for this reason, the time between store refurbishments is becoming shorter. However, even if you do complete a new fit-out every two to three years, staying current remains a problem.

So how can retailers find new ways to adapt to the changing customer journey without significant investment every few months?

The semi-fixed store design allows high-street retailers to adopt a contextual approach to business; helping to keep things fresh. Optimising all available retail space, the semi-fixed approach sees the core of the store remain the same while reconfigurable elements and accessories are used to enrich the customer experience. 

For example, LED lightboxes allow for the creation of stunning, adaptable retail displays. And, with the option of easy to change fabric graphics, lightboxes can be easily adapted to reflect the latest collections and respond to changing consumer needs.

Likewise, different finishes can be applied to standard retail systems and shelves to enhance the overall look of a store without compromising on structural integrity. Simply changing a display system from black to wood can make all the difference when it comes to engaging your target audience.

Take a look at our case study for Pantheon Interiors to see how this can work in practice.

Creating customised retail design solutions, without breaking the bank, at Unibox our intelligent products help retailers across the world to sell more effectively. What’s more, by taking the time to get under the skin of your customers, and helping you to contextualise their buying journey, we don’t just help you to create a distinct store atmosphere, but also influence shopper behaviour, spending habits and brand loyalty.

If you’d like our help turning your ideas into a reality, or for a quick chat to find out more about how Unibox does things differently, contact us today.