Online Store to Retail: Retailers are focusing on carefully welcoming back consumers and restoring operations as the world reopens. Many organizations, particularly digital pure plays, are looking to experiment with novel customer journeys and revenue models.
Fabletics and Amazon, for example, are creating or increasing their physical presence by taking advantage of retail real estate vacancies. Physical shop development plans continue to outperform closures, much to the astonishment of many commentators. According to Coresight Research’s shop tracking in the United States, national retailers have announced 3,199 store openings and 2,548 store closures so far this year.
It has been measured how e-commerce brands have evolved into omnichannel retailers. Many people are unfamiliar with shop operations and the realities of in-store experience retail. This will necessitate the development of new capabilities and competencies that allow them to reach customers wherever they are and on their terms. As shops acclimate to the real world, let’s look at a few recommended practices for success.
Using Technology in the Retail Industry
As internet companies expand their reach to the main street, they bring with them a wealth of technology and data. E-commerce provides companies with a plethora of options for personalizing the purchasing experience and making it more convenient for customers. Direct-to-consumer businesses and pureplay retailers will have to figure out how to apply these techniques in the real world. If a digital brand wants to pivot, it must rethink how its online strategy will function in-store. It’s critical to use the correct technology, and selecting a reliable POS and retail platform is crucial to running a successful in-store business. It’s not as simple as putting a cash register on your website and hoping everything works out.
Customers demand convenience in their buying experience regardless of channel. Because customers will outnumber shop staff, retailers wishing to pivot should look into innovative options like self-checkout, BOPIS, pay-by-link, pay-by-QR code, and other tech-forward methods of getting customers out the door.
New brick-and-mortar merchants will have to predict the ebbs and flows of in-store demand rather than web traffic spikes. These shops should think about using demand forecasting technologies to predict daily traffic and get a head start on the busy holiday season. To accurately estimate demand, they’ll require a system that incorporates next-generation retail science and exception-driven processes.
Acknowledging Customer Expectations
Customer journeys differ substantially in terms of shopping paths and purchase psychology. Shopping is a social and interpersonal experience for many people. Online shopping, on the other hand, maybe more convenient; discovering things while browsing is a major feature that draws customers into stores.
In the 2019 Oracle Retail customer study, 36 percent of shoppers selected exploration as a major priority on their buying process as a place to experiment and try new items before the pandemic. Consumers will return to stores once state limitations are lifted, and retailers will need to have fully stocked goods ready for the influx. Customers will take their money elsewhere if shops are unable to supply it.
According to a 2021 Oracle Retail poll, out-of-stock products was the top reason for a terrible shopping experience for 34% of respondents, 33% said they weren’t prepared to wait for an item to come back in stock before trying another brand, and 27% said they would purchase at a different retailer.
Shoppers are still concerned about their health and safety as they return to retailers. Consumers today expect a clean and healthy atmosphere when they go shopping. This isn’t an issue that e-commerce companies will have dealt with before; nevertheless, for brands wanting to pivot, it will need to be a key concern.
According to the same Oracle study from 2021, 80% of shoppers are willing to shop in a retail store as long as safety precautions are in place (e.g., wearing a mask, cleaning procedures, etc.), with 28% of shoppers claiming that a lack of social distancing/unclean environment would result in a bad shopping experience.
Staff Training is Being Updated
To keep up with the opening of new brick-and-mortar locations, merchants will need to hire and educate more employees. Staff training, on the other hand, will need to go beyond the basics in order for physical stores to succeed in the future. Store associates who joined during the epidemic will need to adapt to increased foot traffic and the demands that come with it as vaccinations usher in a return to normalcy for retail.
Customers will want to know where each product is located, what discounts are available, whether there is additional stock in the rear, and which check-out lane is the fastest. They’ll expect the associate to respond immediately to all inquiries and requests. According to the 2021 study, 44 percent of consumers ranked unhelpful employees as defining a terrible shopping experience, demonstrating the importance of competent personnel.
Store employees will need to be well-prepared to deal with any expectations or questions that arise. Retailers transitioning from online to offline can assist colleagues to bridge the gap by incorporating mobile devices or tablets, putting information at their fingertips. These devices can assist staff in locating items and inventories, highlighting customer profiles and suggestions to assist associates in providing better service, and even serving as a check-out point. Staff will need to be trained for this experience so that they can make the most of in-store technologies and use them to give exceptional customer service.
Breaking into the brick-and-mortar world can be a thrilling next step for e-commerce businesses, but it needs careful planning and preparation. In each sector, customers and their requirements are distinct, and businesses must learn how to cater to both. As internet merchants expand into the physical world, they will need to anticipate in-store customer behaviors and requests, utilize technology to provide a more seamless experience and effectively train their staff to make the entire customer journey worthwhile. It’s time to enter into (or back into) the real world and prepare for the future of retail as the world prepares to reopen.