Everyone is talking about the digital revolution in retail and the impact on the high street, but it’s important to remember that less than 20% of retail sales currently take place online.
Surprisingly, a recent global study of consumers and retailers has found that Generation Z and Millennials actually plan to do more instore shopping than Baby Boomers and Generation X. That’s right, digital natives will be hitting the high street more than any other generation.
With that in mind, it’s vital that retailers pay particular attention to changing consumer behaviours and expectations when it comes to bricks and mortar shopping. Here are our top five recommendations to ensure returning custom in this new era of retail:
We know this is a ridiculously obvious one, but it’s absolutely crucial to remember that a superior customer experience frequently comes from exceptional, face-to-face, customer service. Interaction with a helpful, knowledgeable store associate is often the deciding factor in securing a sale and poor experiences in store don’t stay offline for long.
Consumers are increasingly expecting their instore experience to be consistent with online. Campaigns, promotions, events and the overall feel of physical stores needs to mirror, or complement, what’s happening on a retailer’s website, apps and social media channels.
We all know it’s not just about stocking goods anymore, consumers want shopping to be an enjoyable and interesting experience. Physical retail spaces should inspire consumers and showcase products and brands in new and exciting ways. Interestingly, adding emerging, interactive technology might not always be the answer. The research we mentioned earlier found that although retail execs thought that introducing VR to their stores would increase sales, just 14% of consumers say it would significantly impact their purchasing decisions.
Feedback from customers and employees is invaluable. Staff members know what’s happening on the ground on a daily basis and should be empowered to share their ideas on how to improve the customer experience in their individual stores. Retailers should take advantage of tech that opens direct communication lines between head office and their stores. It not only allows for a more personalised approach in store, it also encourages staff to get in touch when problems with stock or campaign materials arise.
Tech offers the opportunity to streamline and simplify resource heavy processes and improve customer experiences. While digital signage, AR, VR and other state-of-the-art innovations increasingly make the headlines, uptake is slow and the return on investment isn’t completely clear yet. Retailers should invest in software that helps to track purchases, personalise the customer journey and to introduce management systems that centralise and simplify the planning, execution and analysis of instore campaigns.
Retail technology has the opportunity to shine when it comes to reimagining complex workflows and providing insight into instore operations to match those online. It’s actually getting back to the basics, and reforming inefficient and laborious tasks, that guarantees instant results. End-to-end systems, like Colateral, that update store data, plan promotions and open communications between shop floor associates, marketing teams and head office, are key to cutting costs, guaranteeing incredible experiences in store and driving sales.
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