We’ve all read and seen the news stories – retailers are closing locations throughout the country. That hardly means that brick-and-mortar locations are no longer a key part of a brand’s success. Far from it, in fact, particularly with the continued importance of creating an omnichannel experience, especially for those customers buying apparel, gifts, electronics, and cosmetics.
What the changing landscape does necessitate, however, is that you cast a fresh eye on retail outlets and use them more effectively. Here are three ways to re-think brick-and-mortar stores to enhance the overall shopping experience and optimize omnichannel retail strategies for an improved bottom line.
Expand Use of Brick & Mortar Stores
Proof that brick-and-mortar remains vital can be seen in this statistic – 42% of shoppers still view in-store as a major part of their routines. Sure, the increase in online buying is cutting into physical stores’ traffic, but the benefits of shopping in-person still have great appeal, especially for beauty products that shoppers enjoy sampling before purchasing. Additionally, the on-demand access to customer service found at a location can translate into more purchases and greater customer satisfaction.
In today’s economy, you need to view these stores as strategic distribution centers that can enable faster delivery via ship-from-store. This can allow you to meet consumers’ growing demand for timely and inexpensive shipping if stores are closer than warehouses or fulfillment centers. At the same time, many consumers prefer to buy online and pickup or return in-store. This allows them to avoid extra delivery costs and potentially receive their items faster while expediting refunds and exchanges. The key is to adapt your physical presence to cater to modern customers’ needs.
Optimize Your Mobile App As In-Store Tool
The benefits of a quality mobile experience are paramount. Obviously, allowing potential customers to buy your products from their smartphone is great, but you should also aim to have your app used in-store. Many shoppers, especially the all-important demographic that falls between the ages of 18 and 34, research products on their mobile devices before making a purchase. Embrace this practice by permitting them to quickly and easily do this while they are at a retail location. It will increase the chance they will walk out of the store carrying a bag filled with your products.
If a certain item is currently unavailable in a given shade, size or scent, make sure that shopper can use your app to scan the product, order it and have it delivered directly to their doorsteps as soon as possible. Another option is to use the app to push out up-to-date inventory availability, so customers can choose the most convenient location to sample or buy products. Having your app complement an in-store shopping process in this manner creates a more convenient and satisfying experience that can build consumer trust, creating more lifelong customers.
Track All Activity Through Every Channel
You need to ensure that your approach to analyzing customer behavior should resemble their shopping habits both online and in-store. One key element of this approach is to optimize personalization, in which you can provide better-informed suggestions or more relevant promotional information.
Consider this situation. A shopper researches makeup on your website but doesn’t put it in her cart. You follow up with an in-store coupon via your app, so when she visits a brick-and-mortar location to sample the product, she has an incentive to make a purchase immediately.
Such a scenario has an added benefit. You can track all activity and use that data to better interact with said customer. For example, you’d be able to more efficiently follow up after their purchases to inform them of complementary products or sales and promotions that help them save money on items they’ve been researching online.
This improved customer experience can lead to more conversions and impulse purchases. That point is proven by research that shows brands who provide personalization increase revenues by 6-10%, which is two to three times more than those who don’t. As this study showed, separating purchase information based on channels can limit the accuracy of your customer-focused data, so you need to consolidate information and use it to your advantage.
As valuable as the omnichannel experience is, some fall short in providing it. Having the available components is only half the battle. The rest involves creating a seamless blend of channels to provide a convenient customer experience, especially in today’s shopping environment. In fact, research shows that customers buy more from brands that can do exactly that. To learn more about the critical elements of a true omnichannel strategy, download our click here to download our white paper “Stepping Into Omnichannel”.