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7 Technologies to Bring Online Retail Experiences Offline

Today’s customers appreciate the comfort and convenience of online shopping.

With so much convenience on offer online, it’s becoming more difficult for offline stores to compete with their online brethren. However, it’s worth noting that in-store shopping has its own distinct benefits.

Only in person can you actively engage and interact with products, smell the perfume, taste the food, touch that soft rug. These personal interactions can even convince customers to spend more money in store when shopping away from the internet.

As customers become more disenchanted with the automated nature of online selling, eCommerce businesses have started to shake things up by opening their stores in renowned areas. Mr. Spex, Amazon, Zalando, and many more have opened physical stores that offer so much more than the standard pop-up store idea.

A need for seamless omnichannel experiences is what’s driving the trends here.

E-commerce retailers are looking for new ways to offer consistent and individualized shopping experiences in both offline and online shopping. They’re focusing on extraordinary shopping experiences, as well as emotion, and compelling atmospheres.

Consider Amazon, for instance. Before opening their Amazon Go store and acquiring Whole Foods, the company surprised the world by opening its first physical book store in Seattle. The experience in the store is similar to what you would see from Amazon online, albeit offline. Recommendations, fast checkout, smart display of products to encourage cross- and upselling, and even the product range reflects what other customers living in the area have bought.

Amazon books store offline
Amazon books store offline

Online experiences have become so convenient that local retailers are trying to replicate the experience offline. Here, we’ll look at some of the technologies you could use to bring online experiences to your store.

Related: 7 Technologies to Watch: Bringing Offline Retail Experiences Online

 

1Mobile Shopping

Today’s companies know just how important mobile is to the customer experience. For instance, House of Fraser is quoted as saying “Mobile is the glue between our digital and physical universe”, and New Look believes thet “Mobile plays a part in every single customer journey”.

Whenever you look at connecting the online and offline experience, you’ll find that optimizing your mobile game is inevitable. M-Commerce has been on the rise since 2014, with no signs of slowing down. Google has even adopted a new indexing algorithm for mobile searches.

Today, mobile success is no longer about optimization and responsiveness, but a comprehensive shift towards truly friendly mobile service. Mobile is essential, whether it’s the customers checking items on their smartphone in your store, or using their mobile devices to pay for goods and services.

 

2Self-Service Terminals and Kiosks

The self-service terminal is something that we’re seeing in a range of offline businesses today – but companies are beginning to explore the benefits of offering their customers more than a straightforward way to pay for their items.

Today’s customers want to be independent. 91% of people aged 35 and younger have used a self-checkout system before, and implementation is growing.

Self-service kiosks have so much more to offer than some people think. For instance, Tracfone, the leading prepaid wireless provider in the US, implemented digital advisors on touchscreens in the entrance of their store to help customers pinpoint the correct mobile plan with a few taps.

Touchscreen at Tracfone store that helps shoppers find the suitable plan
Touchscreen at Tracfone store that helps shoppers find the suitable plan

With these solutions, customers can instantly customize their own experiences in offline stores, by accessing available digital technology to be directed to the product they need, based on their own personal requirements.

 

3In-Store Push Notifications

Mobile engagement starts at the store entrance. Push notifications are a way for companies with their own mobile apps to connect with customers, even when the app isn’t active.

With push notifications, you can welcome shoppers to your store, prompt them to access discounts, or offer suggestions for products they might like based on previous purchases.

Wal-Mart uses push-notifications to deliver a more personalized relationship with customers based on huge usage insights. By showing customers the information they need when they need it most, you can motivate shoppers to engage with the brand and enhance retention. With this approach, the company could increase user retention rates by up to 100%.

Whether you sell to online or offline, reaching out to prospective customers at the right moment, through their preferred channel, with a customized offer, results in higher conversion rates.

 

4Mobile Assistance in the Fitting Room

The ability to actually try items out for size is a huge advantage that physical stores have over their online counterpart.

However, in some cases, the changing room could easily become one of the most frustrating elements of any shopper’s experience. Having to put your clothes back on again when you need to go and grab another size or call for a sales assistant to get some help isn’t an enjoyable experience.

Having an application that offers a “request assistance” feature for your customers could make it simpler for customers to discretely ask for a shop assistance without having to leave the fitting room.

 

5Mobile Payments and Mobile POS

Long checkout lines can be a huge problem and source of frustration, even for the most determined shopper.

Allowing your customers to use an app that allows them to buy and scan their products on their phone might deliver a huge advantage and increase convenience in the store. By giving customers the power to check out quickly and easily, you can ensure that they have less time to stand around and rethink their purchases.

Additionally, mobile point of sale solutions helps to free up valuable real estate that might otherwise be dedicated to POS countertops. An MPOS can even be cost-effective, by allowing businesses to conduct transactions without the need for an electronic register.

 

6Click and Collect Facilities

Click and collect facilities are growing increasingly popular in today’s marketplace. These solutions allow customers to purchase the items they want online and pick them up in their physical store, merging the convenience of e-commerce with the benefits of physical retail outlets.

This can make the shopping journey far more convenient for customers.

Click and collect services are becoming more common because they deliver a greater experience to customers who don’t want to wait for deliveries. Research found that over a third of customers enjoy the benefits of Click and Collect and use it as their delivery method of choice.

 

7Endless Aisles

According to Forrester Research, about 10% of all store sales are lost as a result of items being “out of stock”. Endless aisles are the solution to this problem. Retailers can continue to offer their customers items that might not be present within the physical store, by selling items held by external suppliers. When customers order an item, an order is also placed with the external supplier, who ships the product directly to the customer.

As consumer expectations continue to grow in the retail space, endless aisles make it possible to maintain customers, and avoid lost sales. When items are out of stock, customers no longer need to search elsewhere for their product. Instead, they can use endless aisles to instantly access and order the item they need. An endless aisle, in simple terms, helps you to maintain your audience’s custom.

 

In this article, we’ve explored promising technologies to deliver more seamless offline experiences to your customers.

The key isn’t necessarily to jump on the latest trends as and when they appear but to identify the technologies that make the most sense to your customers. Think about what your customers need from you, and consider how you can create a seamless experience that connects the virtual and real world.

 

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Rebekah Carter is a dedicated content writer, with comprehensive experience in the world of entrepreneurial development, business growth, communication and collaboration, and even health and fitness. Rebekah frequently searches for new ways to expand and grow her experience in the digital world!