The rising impact of eCommerce is compelling retailers to get back to the drawing board. The pace, at which online and mobile commerce has changed the rules of the industry, makes it critical for the retailers to act swiftly, to stay relevant.
Lack of transparency and unavailability of information has led to rising showrooming and has become a concern for many retailers. Therefore, many retailers have started to enhance their online presence.
Features like order online, and pick up in-store, get customers interested in the physical stores, by offering them, the right mix in, the variety of eCommerce and the ability to see the products at the stores.
According to a latest research by PWC, many customers still prefer shopping in physical stores, but it won’t be the case forever, if retailers do not take the necessary steps. Having online presence is just a hygiene factor, nowadays. To be able to compete with booming online commerce; retailers have to find innovative and efficient ways to get more walk-ins to their stores and increase the conversion rate.
One such efficient solution is to create a pleasant In-Store experience. To win this war against the online giants like Amazon and eBay, many retailers are looking to create seamless customer experience across their digital channels.
Retailers should ensure that once the customers enter the store; they have the access to maximum information, which helps them in finding the right product at the right price and in minimum time possible. It is necessary to help the customers at every touch point, so that their purchase journey is absolutely seamless.
But the question is how can retailers ensure that the customers in their stores get all the information? Can they really know what a customer wants to buy, the moment the customer enters the store? How can the sales manager recognize a High Value customer? How can the sales staff suggest the right product to the customer? How can they make the checkout process quick, without compromising on the security? How can they make their customers believe that they are offering the best price? These are just few of the many questions that the retailers are trying to find answers for.
In-Store Shopping Challenges
So what’s this hype about In-Store experience? How did the need arise?
Do you think competing with the online players is the perfect answer? That’s not completely right. It is one of the reasons. Big eCommerce players have bombarded the customers with loads of information, variety of products and, of course, convenience.
Some of the key factors which affect the decision making of buying any product are:
1. Product Information
Every customer likes to know every detail of the product that he/she is interested in. Let it be color, material, look and feel, price, availability, warranty, user reviews etc. The biggest advantage that the eCommerce players have is that they can provide all this on their website. The need to touch and feel a product before buying is taken care, by capturing the user reviews, which has helped the eCommerce players to gain the trust of the consumers. Whereas, in case of a retail store, they are not able to compare prices, they can’t ensure whether their product is available or not and the variety is also limited.
This is an area where the physical stores should have an advantage as they have the store staff to take care of the customer, personally. Typically, the staff is busy in billing or helping some other customers, which results in customer dissatisfaction. On the other hand, though the customers know that they won’t get too much personal attention, if they seek any, as an alternate, the web could provide the eCommerce players with the luxury of endless curation of products.
So, the customers prefer these curated online websites which reduce the problems that they face in a physical store. Nevertheless, if the physical stores can ensure that every customer’s problems can be addressed in quick and efficient manner; the customers will rush back to the physical stores.
In today’s busy world, when the average sleep-time has reduced from 9 hours per day (20 years back) to 7 hours per day; not too many people want to waste their precious time standing in long billing queues, finding a toothbrush in a 10,000 sqft store, finding the right fit and trying out seven shirts, before buying one. All these issues are resolved, if a customer goes to an eCommerce website. Though the customers would still want to touch, see and try the products before they really buy them, it is not at the cost of their valuable time and during their busy schedule.
Every customer loves the fact that the brand that he/she is loyal to, knows him/her. The customers like to be pampered. Nobody likes to receive irrelevant information from their brands. Therefore, if irrelevant messages are sent frequently, the customers might get frustrated and that might be an opportunity for other brands to acquire those customers. The online players manage it to some extent because they know the personal details of the customers, who have logged in. They can, also, track what products they have browsed, which helps them in providing the right and relevant information.
Achieving Seamless In-Store Shopping Experience
To tackle the above mentioned factors that drive consumer purchase behavior, it is necessary for the retailers to leverage technology and provide their customers with personalized attention, offers and products (wherever possible), to create the level playing field with the eCommerce players.
Retailers need to create innovative and futuristic solutions, which are not only relevant in the current scenario, but, also, take into account the upcoming technology trends. Some of the innovative solutions and latest trends in retail are Beacon solutions, Consumer-Facing Mobile applications, Big Data Analytics, Social Media Marketing, Digital Merchandising, Store Associate Training and Productivity Solutions, Customer Dashboards etc.
If the new technology solutions and digital methods are enabled by retailers to provide a better in-store experience, the retailers will achieve a better conversion rate.
This is a brief article to give you an overview on how the world is moving towards the adoption of a seamless in-store experience. We will be publishing a whitepaper on this topic, in next few weeks, which will provide an in-depth explanation of how to achieve a seamless shopping experience and enable the technologies, which need to support it.
So, stay tuned!
Sr. Consultant – Mobility, RapidValue Solutions