Today we are living in a hybrid reality where physical and digital worlds blend. The “new normal” mixes these worlds in our daily experience. A simple example is the brick-and-click shopping experience where people research online and then purchase offline, or purchase online and pick up in-store.
Creating a seamless omnichannel customer experience is one of the most critical factors for retailers’ success today. It is the fast adoption that will drive your commerce growth.
So, as a retail company, you need to consider how your business will offer physical and digital experiences that work seamlessly for the customers who interact with you.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed how big brick-and-mortar businesses are using the power of digital media to offer innovative shopping experiences to their customers, further blurring the lines between on/offline. Early on, they recognized the need to evolve their business to survive in a competitive and rapidly shifting retail environment and invest in technology to serve today’s omnichannel shoppers better.
On the other hand, several pure ecommerce brands are venturing into the brick-and-mortar space. Even Amazon, the ecommerce giant, is hugely investing in building its physical presence in several locations worldwide to make it convenient for customers to make a purchase.
Apparently, the future lies in the ‘brick-and-click’ combination, so it’s important to know why (and how) investing in technology and omnichannel experiences can help your business get the best of both worlds to up your game in 2021.
Reach customers from all generations
It’s no secret that every generation has its unique shopping habits, preferences, and consumer behavior. For example, Baby Boomers would prefer shopping in-store while Millennials and Gen X are open to shop in-store and online.
Millennials are now the largest group in the workforce spending $600 Billion a year. They are multi-device savvy, meaning they regularly switch between different tech devices a day. They research online, shop in-store, or purchasing on their mobile phones.
By strengthening your online and physical presence, you can create marketing strategies that address generational consumer shopping behavior and reach wherever they are.
No matter if this is your online store, physical shop, mobile apps, or social media channel, you need to ensure a frictionless, easy purchase experience that functions across channels and offers flexible options to customers.
Streamline customers’ decision-making process
Combining physical and digital retail experiences can help you accelerate your customers’ decision-making process and shorten the time they need for research and comparison.
It’s a well-known fact that today’s customers have the habit of doing online research before making an online or in-store purchase. Online they can easily find customer reviews and compare prices across multiple retailers.
Creating an online and offline presence can help customers get the information they are looking for, enabling them to make a buying decision confidently.
What you can do?
- To help customers make a quick decision and reduce the friction during the purchase journey, you can add digital experiences in-store with tablets or kiosks that display product features, customer reviews, and compare products. Another bonus is that in-store kiosks can increase customer spend by 30 percent.
- Streamline customers’ decision-making process by equipping shop assistants with handheld inventory management devices letting them give your customers information about prices and product comparisons while in-store.
- Use beacon technology to increase footfall in your stores. Using a beacon, you can send to nearby customers’ smartphones messages and notifications promoting recent product launches and deals. Thus, you will help them make a purchase decision in your favor.
- Set your ecommerce pricing levels according to your competition with the help of competitor monitoring software
- Use email marketing to send out emails asking your customer to leave a review
- Collect and manage customer reviews with reviews management software to boost your reputation and address customer concerns.
Strengthen your brand with a unified shopping experience
With consumers using a mix of online and in-store channels to make purchases, the shopper journey will only continue to become more complex.
The shopper path to purchase is no longer linear. You need to be considering every touchpoint within your customer journey and make sure that your messaging is consistent on every channel.
To speak to your audience in one voice, you have to have a consistent cross-channel brand representation in-store, on the website, mobile app, social media, and traditional advertising. This seamless consistency across channels not only will strengthen your brand reputation but also will boost conversions.
Nurture loyal customers
Adopting the omnichannel approach can help you nurture your loyal customers and create a seamless physical-digital experience for them.
What you can do?
- As a brick-and-mortar shop, you can upsell and cross-sell to your customers through an effective email marketing campaign.
- After purchasing in-store, you can encourage customers to use the brand website to leave a review or access after-sale services.
- Make loyalty points work for in-store and online purchases.
Examples of Successful Brick-and-Click Merchants
Big Lots has made significant strides in its omnichannel offerings in the past 12 months – the discount retailer invested heavily in improving the customer journey across online and physical retail.
They integrated web and in-store capabilities to allow for easy returns, pricing consistency, and order visibility across channels.
At the start of the health crisis in March, Big Lots introduced curbside pickup at all 1,400 of its retail stores, expanded its e-commerce presence, and partnered with Instacart to roll out same-day delivery.
Bloomingdale’s has made it convenient and easy for consumers to shop with them across multiple channels.
For example, the department store chain offers programs such as:
- in-store shopping services (e.g., stylists, beauty services, personal shoppers, tailoring and alterations, wedding registries, etc.);
- the ability to book an appointment online to meet with a Bloomingdale’s associate in-store for a personalized shopping experience;
- contact-free curbside pickup of online orders, which has become increasingly popular with consumers and retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In today’s channel-rich environment, omnichannel capabilities are driving the engagement of the shoppers with the retail brand and ultimately draw them to the physical store.
It’s obvious that traditional retailers with physical stores will do better not only by leveraging the power of the online world but by synchronizing the physical and the digital worlds to provide shoppers with a seamless, multi-channel experience that pure ecommerce business simply cannot match.
Get the most out of your online store in 2021
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