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Optimizing your in-store experiences with UserTesting

Yuling An  |  October 19, 2017

The intersection of the digital and physical worlds are undeniable. Traditional methods of collecting data about the customer experience, whether it's through gathering metrics at checkout or via loyalty accounts, can only show you a fraction of the experience. According to Retail Customer Experience, 91% of retail sales take place in brick-and-mortar stores. With conversion rates in brick-and-mortar stores higher than those on digital platforms, it's especially important for retailers to optimize in-store experiences to come out ahead. After working with top retailers that use UserTesting’s human insight platform to optimize their in-store customer experience, we’ve uncovered the top five influencers impacting the in-store customer experience.

1. The browsing experience

An exceptional in-store experience starts with an enjoyable browsing experience. Can customers find what they're looking for? Are there any attributes of the store that are impacting their shopping experience? How delightful or frustrating is the experience and environment? One of our department store customers learned that ease of navigation in the store, availability of items, and helpfulness of store associates greatly impacted their customers’ holiday shopping experience. They presented real experiences and customer stories, supported with visual evidence, to their stakeholders, outlining points of delight and friction.

Gather quick insights

Conduct one-on-one interviews with your target audience with UserTesting's Live Conversation or conduct a remote, unmoderated study. Discuss their recent shopping experiences with them to learn about your store experience or areas of opportunity from competitors.


2. The omnichannel experience

Top retailers now offer an omnichannel experience to improve the ease of the shopping experience, such as “Buy Online, Pick Up.” Other tools like location finders to find a location with specific services, or using online inventory indicators to locate an item, enable customers to make informed decisions about the location they are visiting. One of the top sporting goods retailers launched their online inventory indicator tool to inform their customers of the in-stock status of products on their website. To optimize this experience, they worked with UserTesting to capture the experience of finding an item shown as “in-stock” on the website. Then, they brought the findings to their team to further refine the accuracy of the feature.

Gather quick insights

Run a usability study on your website or app to evaluate your omnichannel experience. By evaluating each channel separately, learn if the expectations set for next steps in each channel are accurate and actionable in the omnichannel experience.


3. Impact of seasonal offers

Seasonal offers and sales, like around the holidays and summertime, increase consumer activity. It becomes especially important during this time to engage your customers, and stay ahead of the competition. Understanding how these offers influence shoppers’ perspectives and decision-making helps retailers optimize their shopping experience. Factors like impactfulness, attractiveness, and visibility all influence the seasonal shopping experience. One of the top arts and crafts stores consistently uses UserTesting to understand perceptions of their in-store seasonal department. By gathering insights on the product selection, aesthetics, and how they measure up to competitors, they can continuously iterate on and optimize their in-store experience to stay ahead of the pack in their seasonal offerings.

Gather quick insights

Conduct a competitor study to see how your seasonal offers stand up your competitors. Or, schedule proactive studies of your seasonal offers in advance to gather initial perceptions and reactions. Are customers’ seasonal needs and expectations met? Is there anything missing that they would like to see?


4. Understanding smartphone interactions

Top retailers seize the opportunity to include technology in the in-store shopping experience. Offering app features like augmented reality to try on cosmetics, to scanning product barcodes to search for coupons, further enriches the shopping experience. Contextual usage of these features can often differ from in-lab usage, with outside factors like data network availability that impact the experience. The top online coupons provider recently ran a study, with one of the goals being to understand and gain empathy for customers who use their couponing app as they shop for groceries. With these insights, they can better understand how smartphone coupon usage fits in the grocery shopping journey, and how they can help optimize the experience.

Gather quick insights

Launch a usability study on your app to uncover current pain points and impressions of the features you have. Then, iterate on and address these areas of opportunity before launching a contextual study.


5. Attractiveness and descriptiveness of product displays

Product displays typically highlight the products, but also provides the opportunity to provide additional information about product features and functionality. Attractive product displays draw customers’ attention, and informative product feature descriptions help customers make a purchasing decision. One of the leaders in the robotic toy industry used UserTesting to gather insights on their in-store product displays. Understanding how the display can be optimized to attract attention and better inform purchasing decisions helped derive actionable next steps to increase conversion.

Gather quick insights

Test your product displays through a concept study by sharing images of the display to understand the impactfulness of the messaging. Optimize the value proposition and attractiveness of the display through iterative testing.

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About the author:

Yuling is a Senior UX Researcher at Facebook. When she's not conducting research, you can find her playing with her cats or exploring the newest eats.