In the past years, brick and mortars businesses (BAMs) have seen a significant decline in sales. Nowadays, customers demand the convenience, efficiency and control that online shopping provides to make informed purchases. However, not all is lost for brick and mortar retailers; in-store shopping provides customers with the chance to see, touch, and try out the product before buying. It’s a way for customers to interact with the product in the real world (3D) that the online sphere can’t provide. What’s missing is the access to product information and the ease of purchasing that can be found online. In today's world of connected customers, creating a unified commerce experience between online and in-store is crucial and the answer to providing exceptional shopping experiences.
What should retailers be asking themselves about their ecommerce customer data?
In order to properly create a unified commerce experience for their customers, retailers have to rethink their ecommerce and marketing strategies and really focus on their main asset: their customers.
Retailers need to use the analytics information and customer intelligence they’ve gathered to determine the types of ecommerce shopping experiences they want to offer customers online, on mobile and with digital in-store.
Here are some questions that retailers should be asking:
- What problems did the research unearth? What can we do to fix it?
- What kind of customers do we have?
- Are the customers looking for more of a personal shopping experience where our store employees know their name and their purchasing habits?
- Is our clientele more mature technology wise?
- Will bringing in interactive digital displays benefit our customers? How?
- How can we provide more information to our customers without being too intrusive?
- Will they be receptive to beacons and special in-store offers sent directly to their mobile devices?
- Make sure to include research that cross-references in-store and digital when reviewing the strategic planning process; measure the right metrics - the digital influences along a unified customer journey.
- Define your personas based on your research findings, paying special notice to their behavior with digital, and analyze their performance on those same metrics.
- Measure and adjust your strategy to further help you engage customers online and in-store.
- Ensure that what you bring into your brick and mortars will resonate with your customer base and won’t turn them off your brand.
Mobile shopping experience: allies for in-store shopping conversion
According to a Deloitte study on how customers are navigating the digital divide, customers using digital devices in-store convert at a 20 percent higherrate than other shoppers. In addition, one-third of them also end up spending more in the store than they might have otherwise due to their digital usage while shopping.
This information is great news for brick and mortars wanting to offer more engaging in-store shopping experiences to generate more revenue. If a retailer has an amazing mobile site or app, the customer’s smartphone or tablet could be one of the most powerful tools for increasing in-store sales thanks to seamless mobile shopping experience.
For example, Macy’s offers tech-enhanced shopping experiences through free WiFi in their stores, enabling customers to further engage with the brand through their mobile devices. They also partnered with Google to provide in-store maps that customers can download and use to navigate the stores. The use of beacons allows Macy’s to send real-time recommendations and promotions via mobile, personalized to the customer as they enter and shop in the stores.
Interactive digital displays: a new way to window shop 24/7
As the rate of return for connected shopping increases, retailers have been experimenting and implementing innovative ways for consumers to interact with their brand using interactive digital experiences in-store.
Orckestra recently launched the Interactive Shopping Experience with the live Shoe Wall in Sports Experts stores, converging online and in-store experiences (see this short video). RFID technology was leveraged to enable a more immersive user experience: mounted touch-screen monitors, each equipped with an RFID scanner, are synchronized to run an information/branding video in a loop. As customers browse the selection of shoes on display, they’re encouraged to place any of them on a scanner. They will then be shown the product’s information like best uses, product features, benefits of the material as well as its availability (colors, sizes, etc.). Download the Sports Experts ecommerce and interactive in-store digital display case studies here.
Ebay, Inc., Westfield Labs and Sony have partnered to offer Westfield Mall shoppers the opportunity to browse and buy via the digital storefronts.Once a customer has chosen the products to buy, the customer is sent a payment link via mobile text and can pay securely, pick it up in-store or have it delivered to their home.
Social media: taking advantage of human behavior
People gravitate towards social media to find information, get immediate insight on products and instant feedback, etc. This behavior offers retailers the opportunity to strengthen brand recognition, build customer relationships and boost loyalty. Incorporating game-changing retail tech in-store merges the offline advantage of trying on the product with the online benefit of peer comments.
Adidas installed social media mirrors where a customer can take photos of themselves wearing different items found in store to send to friends via Facebook or Twitter.
Sephora launched the Beauty Board social shopping platform. This lets customers share photos, browse and shop Sephora’s photo gallery from their mobile phones, apps, and desktops and in store. Sephora’s goal in launching the Beauty Board is to unite Sephora shoppers and build a community around the brand as customers share photos, experiences with products and tips on how they achieved their look using Sephora products.
Nordstrom brought Wanelo technology into their stores’ junior department to help forecast trending styles and help better target their customers' needs. "What's Trending on Wanelo" is a compilation of the 100 or so products that are trending on the site, that are shown through wall displays in-stores.
Logistics: Empowering sales associates is a must
Empowering retail sales associates at retail brick and mortars with tools to better serve their customers is a great way to bridge the gap between their offline and online experiences. It will give sales associates added insight to immediately up-sell or cross-sell products to customers in real-time and in person. As well, it could help solve one of the biggest problems businesses face in brick and mortar situations where the customer is more knowledgeable than the sales representative because the customer did prior online research.
The information shown on the Sport Expert’s in-store Shoe Wall for a shoe is the same information found on the website, so the sales representatives can use the Sport Expert’s Shoe Wall to further discuss the details of a specific shoe with a customer. The up-sell, cross-sell products are also shown on the Shoe Wall, so in-store sales associates can once again become your most valued channel and better engage customers in person to increase order value.
Neiman Marcus launched interactive retail tables empowering store associates with the current inventory status of a product as well as items that will be arriving soon with trend reports, enabling them to provide customers with proper insight and precise information on the products. They can also assist customers in finding locations that have the product in store or purchasing it online if it isn’t available at the current location.
With the ease of online shopping, consumers now need an added incentive to visit brick-and-mortar spaces, and playing with technology is a great way to do that. It’s all about heightening a customer’s in-store shopping experience and ensuring service is at a premium. Remember that digital technology is not a threat to brick and mortar retailers but an asset in creating a unified commerce experience customized for connected consumers.