The demise of brick-and-mortar stores has been a topic of contention over recent years. While several traditional retailers have closed their doors due to a downturn in business, many consumers are still shopping in-store.
Any time a customer walks into a store, it presents an opportunity for stores and associates to make a connection and develop loyalty; but to keep customers coming back and continue to drive sales, retailers need to make some changes.
Unifying Multiple Shopping Channels
Consumers expect more flexibility with their shopping these days. They like to browse in-store while also reading product reviews online. If they buy something online, they want to be able to return it in-store. The successful retailers of today, understand how important it is to make goods and services available to consumers via multiple shopping channels.
Retailers need to integrate these channels to ensure the consumer has a consistent and seamless experience no matter the interaction – be it in-store, online, or by phone.
Leveraging Mobility In-store
The use of mobile devices as part of the in-store experience is becoming an expectation of consumers, with more stores investing in technology that enables associates to work more efficiently and assist with in-store communications.
A recent survey conducted by Honeywell business-critical mobility and IoT partner, SOTI, revealed that 45.53 per cent of Australian consumers consider handheld mobile devices provided by store associates, that can display stock balance, pricing, stock levels online and at other stores, to provide them with a better shopping experience in-store.
Moving forward, retailers will seek to extend mobile device capabilities to more associates than ever before. Using these devices to connect every department of the operation will create employee efficiency and help deliver better customer experience.
Customers expect associates to provide critical information in a timely fashion, in order to fast track their decision-making process. Adopting mobile devices in-store will assist in making this much easier.
Mobility in-store offers numerous benefits to retailers, with many already recognising that they can automate several associate tasks, improve store productivity and lower costs through the adoption of mobile devices.
Improving the Shopper Experience
SOTI’s research revealed that what customers want out of their in-store shopping experience is personalised customer service (61.03 per cent), followed by a fun and entertaining experience (45.20 per cent).
So, anything retailers can do to make shopping easy, fun, and enjoyable will assist in increasing customer satisfaction.
Retailers should be taking advantage of the data they have available, which provides insight into how their customers are shopping. Through tracking previous customer purchases, store associates can be more in tune with what their customers are looking for, and this allows them to offer a more personalised service to customers based on their previous purchases and shopping habits.
There has been a rise in interactive technology and events in stores, with more retailers offering customers an entertaining experience that can only be enjoyed in-store. For example, Ikea are looking to introduce display suites in-store that allow customers to privately experience Ikea products in a way that is more reflective of how the products will fit in their own home, rather than just on a shop floor. These types of experiences are inviting customers to engage more with in-store products in new and interesting ways.
Competing with e-commerce
There’s no denying that online shopping has disrupted the retail sector. Online stores will continue to up the ante with their services, and it is crucial that bricks-and-mortar stores find a way to keep up. Retail stores need to focus on providing customers with something unique, something that customers cannot experience through shopping online.
According to the SOTI research, being able to see and touch the product (71.97 per cent) and try on/test out a product (69.78 per cent) remain high drivers for customers visiting physical retail stores. This provides retailers with a good opportunity to ensure that when customers come in-store, they are engaged, both by the products and store associates.
Through embracing these new changes in-store, retailers can create efficiencies for associates and improve the customer experience to foster a successful sales environment.
Claudio Bratovic is a retail technology leader and the ANZ Regional Manager for Honeywell. With 23 years of industry experience, Claudio is committed to helping Australian retailers fulfil their potential through innovation. For more information please visit: https://www.honeywellaidc.com