Retail world has been changing very quickly in recent years. While it is obvious that brick and mortar will not disappear anywhere, but the competition became very big between brands in a saturated omnichannel retail market.
Even though e-commerce stores can provide features like high-resolution images or 360-degree visualizations, people still prefer to touch and feel products when they do their shopping. As a matter of fact, about 78 per cent of shoppers prefer a physical engagement with a product over a virtual experience. Being able to physically touch a product can affect a person’s purchasing decision. So it is not a surprise that 92 per cent of American’s retail shopping still occurs offline.
However, seems like the e-commerce retailers are ready to change these numbers. For that, they are actively using certain strategies. Some of the biggest involve technologies deployed to help support business functions and increase customer insights. Others are using non-traditional shopping experiences combined with omnichannel method. All of these ways help online retailers to stay ahead of the curve.
While a few years ago customer data insights were affordable only for the largest retail companies, now, it is not that expensive so everyone from Walmart to the local souvenir shop can get enough information about their customers.
“Retailers with storefronts traditionally rely on sales data to help identify trends and predict customer behavior, but this data only shows one piece of the overall health of their business. Think of it this way: if an e-commerce retailer opened an online business and did not install Google Analytics to track how well their site visitors were converting, we would call them crazy. Many brick and mortar retailers, however, are missing out on collecting this same type of data that their online competitors track religiously,” told Michael Brand, CEO and founder of Dor, a company that provides affordable door counters and analytics to retailers.
Not that long time ago, all kinds of retailers had noticed that for better sales you need to specialize locally in everything from products to store design. Now, people expect to find something they rarely get to experience in their online shopping efforts.
That is why the biggest retailers like Walmart and Waitrose have opened different store formats for city centers, and corner stores, while other brands have opted for pop up experiences in various cities to help drive traffic to their online stores.
It is known that if customer has touched the brand more than one time, it increases the likelihood that they will choose to buy products of that brand. The biggest problem is that many large retailers built out a number of locations in the past 20-30 years that is now unsustainable, and have had trouble innovating it making their service experience heavy and impersonal. Nowadays, you need to be innovating.
The most important is to test new strategies, may fail but try again fast. Companies also have to consider their aptitude for using new technology before signing on.
What is next?
It is true that some people are claiming that physical retail is dying; however, lots of people still enjoy a brick and mortar shopping experience. Of course, it will be changing all the time, but it is wrong to think that it will be gone altogether.
Brand claims, “A lot of retail ‘survival’ can depend on company culture and leadership and how readily leadership can adapt to customer demand. We have plenty of hope for large chains who are willing to innovate and experiment. When you are not open to taking risks, you are no longer serving your customers.”
Retail companies that want to dominate in the future must match their enthusiasm with innovations and creativity. Only with that they will be able to reach a success in this complicated landscape.