With an influx of consumer purchasing decisions driving ecommerce today, retail stores are struggling to find innovative ways to keep consumers walking through their doors. Small businesses must take action in order to survive the digital evolution. Fortunately, by targeting the right consumers there are optimal ways brick-and-mortar retailers can thrive.
The Power of Touch
Stores definitely have the upper hand when it comes to physical interaction with a product. No matter how advanced ecommerce sites become with 360 degree visualization and high resolutions images, nothing compares to a consumer’s ability to touch, feel, and have a full hands-on experience with the products they are interested in buying. A majority of average shoppers, approximately 78 percent worldwide, prefer the initial engagement with the product rather than a virtual one (Retail Customer Experience, 2017).
But Retailer, I Want It Now!
We all have those Veruca Salt tendencies where we want things NOW! Brick-and-mortar stores definitely excel in that aspect. Take the Hema Supermarkets owned by Alibaba, for example. They’ve redefined the shopper’s experience by integrating online and offline shopping, deeming it “New Retail” (Alizila, 2017).
As part of the shopping experience, everything is powered by their mobile app. They can seamlessly order their groceries, check to see if it’s available in store, find detailed product content by scanning a barcode, and get everything they need within seconds. If retailers continue to incorporate consumer efficiency into their path of purchase, they will continue to have buyers walking through their doors.
As ecommerce businesses like Amazon continue to set the bar high in terms of availability, delivery, and speed, that doesn’t mean all other shopping experiences like in-store are doomed. In fact, many predict a comeback with 54 percent of shoppers confirming they still prefer it (Future of Retail, 2017).
Amazon may impress consumers with drone and same-day grocery delivery. However, the new generation of shoppers who grew up as millennials crave authentic experiences. A more personalized shopping experience is achievable in traditional brick-and-mortar stores in a similar analytical fashion as online retailers. Retailers that feature both in-store and online shopping experiences are now tracking behavioral purchasing patterns from online all the way to the door.
For example, Sephora, a major cosmetics company inhibits both aspects. The consumer is tracked via a Beauty Insider card that the consumer provides each time they make a purchase whether it’s in-store or online. If they are purchasing online, once they log into their Beauty Insider and begin buying makeup, it automatically tracks the type of makeup they like to buy. Once you arrive at the store, it pulls that buying history from your account and begins offering recommendations via Sephora’s Visual Artist, which is an in-store augmented reality 3D facial recognition program.
The Future of Retail
In the not-so-distant future, we may even be able to expect same-day drone delivery, robot customer service and more. One thing is for certain…Companies will only continue to develop ways to intrigue consumers via a connected commerce approach.