How to embrace online in your retail store

If the path to true love never did run smooth, then it must be true love between consumers and retail stores. Despite the overwhelming majority of shoppers still using bricks and mortar for most of their purchases, the growth of online retail and, most recently, mCommerce, has forced retailers to integrate activity in the aisles with digital touch points.

But while much has been said about the complexities this brings to retailers and hospitality vendors, it seems the growth of multi-channel shopping has strong benefits. According to a new report by dunnhumby, multi-channel customers are far more valuable to brands than those who stick to one shopping channel – in fact, they are worth 28% more in terms of potential sales.

With this mind, it’s retailers with a bricks and mortar presence pushed themselves even harder to integrate digital into the physical shopping experience. And here are 3 key ways to do it:

WiFi

Research by GfK has revealed that 20% of consumers browsing a retail store are doing so whilst monitoring prices on their smartphone. This trend is known, known as showrooming, isn’t something to fear. In fact, to prove competitiveness at the shelf edge, retailers should make the process as easy as possible by ensuring your store is equipped with guest WiFi. Pair this with some form of price-matching guarantee to increase sales conversions.

Digital technology

Tablets and smartphones aren’t just convenience devices for consumer use; retailers can incorporate digital technology into store kiosks to offer unattended customer service – or use them within customer interactions to assist the sales experience. This has the added benefit of bringing online capabilities into the store, such as instant stock checks and increasing inventory availability.

Click-and-collect

It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but there are still many stores that have not perfected their click-and-collect offering for customers. Many shoppers find there is more choice and availability online, so choose to shop this way instead. Providing them with the option to pick up their order in store gives shoppers greater fulfilment flexibility. Upon arriving at the store, the shopper may feel tempted by the products in front of them – presenting your staff an opportunity to engage with that customer face-to-face and upsell.

Essentially, consumers buy into brands, not channels. They don’t care how the touch points they use test retailers’ resources; they want their goods in the most convenient manner, with a trusted and consistent experience every time.

Retail businesses that understand this behaviour, and work to integrate all their channels into a single brand experience, will be the ones to benefit from the added potential value of multi-channel shopping.