Last week, we took a look at how online retailers were going from Click to Brick, in response to consumers’ preference for shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. However, eCommerce is growing at ten times the rate of brick-and-mortar sales and is also an integral part of the shopping journey that ends at a brick-and mortar store.
In their Omni-Channel Retailing report A.T. Kearney showed that 55 percent of the customers use both online and offline for the entire shopping journey (from discovery to returns). Forrester published a similar study where they predicted that that by 2018, 44 percent of all in-store sales would be influenced by online research.
A consumer can easily buy something online with a few clicks if s/he knows exactly what they want or is just replenishing something. Or a customer may visit the store, try a product and buy it then & there. Or, they can research something online, try it at a store and then buy it online for cheaper from a competitor. Shopping journeys are becoming incredibly multichannel and it's extremely foolhardy for brick-and-mortar stores to ignore that trend.
It’s critical for brick-and-mortar retailers to quickly, and seamlessly, integrate their online & offline data to deliver the rapidness, customization and inventory that online retailers use for their customers.
1. Customizing the Fitting Room
The “trying on” session is a critical part of the shopping journey for retailers. Once a customer tries something on in the fitting room their propensity to buy shoots up. Previously, retailers had no way of capitalizing on that moment, given the obvious issue. But interactive mirrors and touch screens that customize content based on the customer and product in the room can add another opportunity to deliver content much closer to the customer decision point.
For example, taking a Victoria Beckham branded piece into the fitting room would trigger a Spice Girls playlist to start playing in the fitting room. Or a raincoat could trigger videos and sounds of rain.
2. Endless Aisles
It’s almost impossible for large retailers to stock every item in their inventory onto shelves. Each undiscovered product is a missed opportunity for a retailer and that’s why a lot of brick-and-mortar retailers are investing in 'endless aisles.' Using a giant screen, online kiosk or even iPads, retailers can sell things that they cannot stock in their stores.
UK retailer Tesco is an example of a brand that has taken the concept of the endless aisle one step further. They installed virtual shopping aisles in subway stations instead of having a store at all. Potential customers scanned product QR codes which was added to an online cart and if they purchased the items before a certain time, Tesco delivered it to their door before the same day.
3. Tracking Foot Traffic
It's easy for online retailers to analyze their visitors' browsing behavior with relatively cheap and easy to use tools. Running the same type of analytics for traffic flow in a brick-and-mortar store was complicated and expensive. It was difficult for stores to understand their customer's shopping pattern and use that data to enhance the shopping experience. But recently a host of companies have sprung up that provide analytics to answer questions such as "Which areas attract most shoppers? Are customers spending enough time in the right areas?"
Fast Company recently looked at the capabilities of some brick-and-mortar analytics companies and described some of their analytical features in detail. The brick-and-mortar analytics can track where visitors spend the most amount of time, which areas of the store generate the most engagement. By using the unique Wi-Fi addresses of customers' phones stores can also track if their customers were visiting other branches in the area. Some analytics providers also claim that they can detect visitors' genders with a high accuracy.
Pairing this type of data with additional information from loyalty cards and credit cards, retailers can really understand their customers (with their permission), and deliver a much better, more personalized in-store experience.
4. Customer Profiling
With the new technologies mentioned above, retailers can collect an extraordinary amount of data. The typical use for such data is to enhance the in-store experience but if that data could be paired with customers' information the level of personalization a retailer could provide would be astounding. How can physical retailers collect customer information?
Just ask! Burberry asked their customers for permission to use their information (such as purchase history, and social media profiles) to deliver better results; in exchange they promised a better in-store experience. And they delivered. The data was immediately made actionable to sales associates. For example, a Burberry sale associate would be able to recommend a pair of red heels that would go great with the trench coat that was bought a month earlier. Burberry also made this available internationally, so you could have bought the trench coat in London and still receive the same sort of recognition and recommendation as a customer in New York.
Does this work? Since implementing this strategy in 2006, Burberry's revenues have more than doubled.
Leveraging All this Data
Retailers can now track all this data about consumer behavior. By asking customers to buy using their phone, or sync their social media accounts, brick and mortar stores can also collect personal information like online retailers. The ability to leverage this data, take action based on it, and calculate ROI from responses is critical to offline retailers if they don't want to be replaced by online in the 'purchase' phase of the shopping journey. Download our e-book below to learn more about finding and selecting the best platform for your customer data.
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