With the rise of technology and offering new channels for shoppers, the expectations of consumers moved to a higher level. It’s time for retailers to rethink, merge and improve in-store shopping with what they have been developing online.
Samsung’s report notes that 94% of retailers expect technology to be one of the main drivers in the future in-store experience. The challenge for retailers is serving and satisfying the large percentage of shoppers owning smartphones and tablets, and expecting to use these devices for even more convenient and individual shopping.
There are 3 central points that need to be addressed by all retailers that want to improve and evolve their in-store experience.
1. Don’t let them wait
In a time when everyone’s so used to having everything right on the spot, waiting for a shop assistant to ask questions is one reason why customers get impatient and leave your store empty-handed.
Not only that, but when the shop assistant does get around to assisting the shopper – it’s not always a beneficial exchange. In fact, a study on self-service solutions, shows that in-person assistance isn’t always what shoppers want.
To solve this problem, more retailers are implementing self-service kiosks in their stores to enable shoppers help themselves. In-store kiosk solutions are increasingly are becoming a fixture of the retail landscape and retailers are getting more creative in how they use them. Its use has been shown to improve clients’ flow and increase revenue. Shoppers can look up product information and receive instant advice and recommendations to quickly decide which product to pick.
Japanese beauty brand Shiseido has integrated the so-called “cosmetic mirrors” at several stores in Japan. It creates a digital experience for shoppers that allows them to try our make-up, receive beauty advice and product recommendations as well as to create shopping lists, directly at the store and without involving a sales associate.
The less time your shopper spends waiting around for assistance, the more time they’ll spend researching their purchasing decisions, while having a greater shopping experience and potentially spending more per visit.
2. Empower your in-store staff
According to a study conducted by Motorola, 61% of shoppers believe they’re better informed than shop assistants.
By the time shoppers arrive at a store, they’ve most likely already researched the products online. The shop assistant should be at least on the same information level as the shopper to be helpful as they decide on a purchase.
To assist your in-store staff, arm them with the latest technology. Every sales assistant should feel confident speaking to customers. Providing your sales team on the ground with easily accessible information, allows them to answer difficult product questions, access to the customer purchase history, find the product location, and real-time stock levels.
A good example is the Levolor Blinds and Shades advisor. The company introduced their digital product advisor at several Lowe’s stores to help both shoppers and store associates to navigate through their large assortment and different options. This approach also makes sure that sales associates in the store are able to advise customers in a consistent manner.
3. Personalize the experience
Using technologies such as QR codes, NFC or beacons in store allows you to provide a more personalized experience. Especially younger shoppers find this integration exciting. Nearly half of 16-24 year olds surveyed say they would prefer retailers who used technology to enhance the shopping experience.
Sending personalized, relevant and unique discount codes and offers to the shopper’s mobile phones as they pass is one way how you can create meaningful customer engagement that will catch the shopper’s attention quickly and add value to their purchase journey.
In an interview with Nick Stein from the indoor positioning and navigation technology company – indoo.rs, he paints a picture how the use of beacons in combination with Guided Selling allows to bridge the gap between the online and offline shopping. For example, if a customer spent a specific amount of time in department section, seemingly unsure about which product to choose, it would be possible to make them aware of a product advisor that would help them pick the right product – right on their phone.
Apple were the first to really adopt and use beacons technology effectively. People are being welcomed to the store on their phone just by walking in, can call over an in-store assistant for help, or read answers to questions. It streamlines the entire in-store experience without subtracting anything from the in-store feeling, while integrating many of the benefits of digital stores right there on their phone.
It’s personalization strategies like these that improve customer satisfaction, shopping experiences and make the entire experience more engaging.
The importance of focusing on improving the in-store experience cannot be overstated, as shoppers are becoming more digital and take their high expectations they have has they shop online to the in-store environment. However, keep in mind that it’s not about replacing the offline experience with technology, but about enhancing the in-store experience!