Online shopping has raised the stakes for instore retail. The speed, ease and convenience of buying goods in an eCommerce environment has challenged instore retail to enhance the in-person shopping experience to attract customers and sales.

Central to the appeal of online shopping today is its ability to personalise the customer experience. Online retailers can do this through personalised email marketing, discounts and offers, as well as using data on customers’ browsing and purchase histories to recommend products that are relevant to their interests. For example, if a customer frequently buys running shoes, the retailer can suggest adding new running shoe styles or accessories to their online shopping cart that the customer may be interested in.

The bottom line is that in today’s digital age, consumers now expect similar levels of personalisation from instore retailers to match their online experience. Personalisation can increase customer loyalty, engagement, and sales, and it can also provide valuable data for instore retailers to improve their business. So, how can instore retailers personalise the shopping experience for their customers today?

Customise the way people can shop

During the pandemic, the thought of walking around, browsing and asking store associates for product information wasn’t an option. It was get in, get what you wanted and get out – as quickly as possible and with little to no interaction with retail employees.

Now, many people are more comfortable and opting for shopping instore over other methods, due to a desire to touch and feel items and assess goods in person before making a purchase. However, some shoppers wish to be present and shop instore without constant interaction with store associates. They want to shop on their terms without interference. This can be achieved in the modern instore retail setting through technology such as handheld scanners, smart shopping carts, self-serve checkout kiosks located across a store, and even retail robotics that provide personalised answers, discounts and information relevant to the individual shopper.

Personalise in-store product recommendations

Using personalised product recommendations is another effective way to personalise the shopping experience for those customers seeking a more interactive instore visit. This can be done by using data to analyse customers’ purchase histories and recommending products that are relevant to their interests. For example, if a customer frequently purchases a certain brand of clothing – a store associate can be made aware of these details via a handheld device with the shopper’s profile, before taking them to see their favoured brand’s new collection.

Personalise your checkout options

Retailers can not only tailor the instore browsing experience for customers, but they can also offer personalised checkout options to improve shopper satisfaction levels and leave a positive last impression. This can be done by providing customers with a variety of checkout options, such as self-checkout, mobile checkout via a handheld device used by store associates, or traditional checkouts. For example, if a customer is in a hurry, retailers can offer them a mobile checkout option that allows them to rapidly pay for their goods and be emailed a receipt.

Increase stock transparency

From a customer perspective, product availability is paramount. Across all shopping platforms, retailers need to ensure that the goods a customer wants to purchase is available – and this is only heightened when a person has travelled to a physical store and taken up time in their day to see and purchase goods.

Alarmingly, according to a recent Retail Research Report from SOTI, in Australia, 41% of shoppers said the items they wanted to purchase have not been available at all. When this happens in an online setting, shoppers can quickly see that a product is out of stock and opt to be notified when it is next available. Instore, when a product is not available, store associates can sometimes have limited visibility on when stock will return to store, driving consumers to buy from a competitor.

This situation can be alleviated through store associates being equipped with modern handheld devices that connect to a stores inventory management system – allowing store associates to notify the shopper when the stock will next be available instore and offering them the option to make the purchase that day and have it priority delivered to their home from another site that has stock.

Consider your in-store technology

Steve Jobs famously said, “our job is to figure out what they’re [consumers] going to want before they do”, and the fact that 90% of customers expect organisations to know their interests and anticipate their needs, backs up that statement. Providing targeted offers (favoured by 62% of consumers) and coupons (67%) based on past purchases when consumers enter a store is a great way to provide personalisation.

  • 24% of consumers say if retailers provided mobile devices upon entry, it would result in a better instore experience.
  • 31% would like to bypass the cash register altogether and use anytime, anywhere checkouts.
  • 41% of consumers would use smart shopping carts that automatically detect and tally items as they’re placed inside it.

Instore, consumers want more information than just product pricing and more control than simply putting products in a shopping cart. For example, retailers can use beacon technology to send real-time, personalised promotions and discounts to customers as they shop. They can also use augmented reality to provide customers with a personalised shopping experience by allowing them to see how products will look in their homes before they buy them.

Enhance the in-store experience or risk losing customers

People want to shop quickly and conveniently in an instore environment today. They want personalised information served up at a moment’s notice. Most importantly, they want products to be available when they want them. Because if they don’t get it, they’ll switch retailers. Technology is there to ensure that doesn’t happen, because when it does, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than simply keeping an existing customer happy. That’s a cost no retail business wants to incur.

For more information on how your instore shopping experience can be customised through personalisation, please visit:

Michael Dyson is vice president of sales for Asia Pacific at SOTI.