Testing the in-store experience
There is a strong, and continually growing appetite for branded experiences in-store. Gen Zers in particular are more likely to want digital experiences to be seamless and fully integrated into the real world and 53% are more likely to want to spend money on an experience rather than an object.
Sports Direct came to us wanting to understand customer perception and opinion regarding their in-store experiences and how they can be improved for future executions.
The research process included looking first at the experiential retail landscape to select the top-line stores for the team and client to visit on a trend tour to gain inspiration and see what is, or is not working well when it comes to enhancing the consumer journey.
Alongside this, secondary research was done to look at wayfinding in stores to discover any innovation in this space, as well as best practice. Following this, the team created two surveys; the first survey to gain insight from Sports Direct consumers, and the second: Sports Direct Staff.
Both surveys aimed to understand the perception towards the current in-store experiences to ascertain how successful they are in engaging with consumers, and how they might be improved going forwards.
The aim of the research was to ensure that any future in-store experiences are created with the consumer in mind, to promote higher usage, greater in-store traffic and footfall and ultimately more in-store sales as well as social shareability, membership sign up or engagement.
Firstly, to determine expectations around in-store experiences overall a key starting point for this project was a round of secondary research to establish global best practice and key principles for create a experiential strategy which is engaging and exciting for consumers.
The secondary research in this phase allowed us to determine key principles for consideration and the overall consumer mindset as we approached both the trend tour and customer research in the second and third stage.
Retail trend tour
The second phase of this project saw us establish an itinerary for a London Based Trend Tour. We visited best practice experiential stores across the city to gain inspiration and guide our overall strategy.
We saw a variety of in-store experiences from VR and AR gamification to more simplistic executions such as gait analysis and shoe measuring services.
The inspiration taken from the tour was documented and helped to inform
our overall research methodology in phase three.
Field research: in-store surveys
Having gained a solid understanding of what works well to engage consumers and increase footfall for retailers, we were in a good position to create two surveys to gain insight into consumer and staff perception of the Sports Direct in-store experiences on Oxford Street.
The first survey was conducted qualitatively in-store. We talked to consumers visiting the Oxford street store, observing any engagement with the in-store experiences. From the survey it was clear that the current experiences needed to be revised and refreshed to maximise engagement.
Results from the survey also revealed other areas that needed honing in on, such as wayfinding which would in-turn help Sports Direct to encourage more customers to use their in-store experiences. Other key takeaways were gathered, and documented.
After the consumer surveys were conducted, we also conducted an online staff survey. Along with the findings from the consumer surveys, the data collected from these staff surveys gave us a clear idea of overall perception towards the experiences.
The research as a whole allowed us to gain first-hand insights into Sports Direct’s current in-store experiences to understand how as a brand they could further enhance the consumer’s retail journey to maximise the engagement in-store. The research helped to define an overall creative brief and bolstered the recommendations for future.