Retailers Need Both Online And Physical Presence To Survive
12 Jun 2019
Even though we live in the digital era, where a whole lot of businesses are focusing their efforts on the digital realm, the fact is that doing so simply isn’t enough. If you truly want to survive in today’s world of retail, you need to make the best out of both worlds. This is because both of them attract a certain kind of customer base, and leaving one out would approximately cut your sales in half. While it is true that there is a great number of people who prefer the luxury of sitting at home and purchasing a product via their mobile phone or computer, there is still about equally as many customers who prefer coming to your store and doing the purchase in person.
In other words, the two worlds need to go hand in hand. A strong online presence is essential, as this is the way that a whole lot of people is going to find out that you even exist, and gain interest by reading reviews, and experiencing your website. However, a large number will come to your brick-and-mortar store because they want to see or touch the product in person, they enjoy the traditional shopping experience, or due to a number of other reasons that differentiate this kind of live engagement with your business from its online counterpart.
Personal interaction is extremely powerful
Doing retail online is characterized by being unparalleled in terms of convenience and the amazing number of options. However, there is one very important factor that it lacks. This is the factor of human interaction.
While there is certainly a wide variety of extensive FAQs, reviews, testimonials, and comments, the fact remains that all of this cannot replace the power of personal interaction. While it is true that artificial intelligence is developing rapidly, it still isn’t able to replace a human staff member who can help the customer choose between similar products.
In other words, online customer service can go above and beyond, but it still cannot truly be compared to the experience of engaging with a friendly salesman who can make the shopping experience truly satisfying. Furthermore, a lot of customers still prefer being able to purchase the product and take it home right away, which is something that digital purchase still isn’t able to offer, due to it being restricted to the same-day, or at least one-hour delivery.
Using technology in a purposeful way
You must never forget the fact that a large chunk of your customer base prefers to physically interact with the product that they are thinking about buying. Coming to your store and engaging with the item is a way for many to be able to be more confident about making a purchasing decision.
However, you can further improve this aspect by purposefully implementing technological solutions. In fact, modern tech can take personalization to a whole new level. Augmented reality is a great way for people to be able to test products in a virtual setting. This is, for example, a great solution for businesses that sell beauty products. It’s good to know that you can incorporate this solution both ways. You can make it an in-store option, but also create an app that enables your customers to do this at home.
There are even stores that have interactive mirrors in their dressing rooms. Such technology enables customers to try on various clothing items and accessories in different colors without having to change. They simply have to press a button and pick one of the existing options. Furthermore, they can adjust the lighting so that they have a complete feeling of how a particular outfit would look in an environment where they intend to wear it.
Make both your website and your store frictionless experiences
Today, the world of retail is an extremely fast one. People browse through a whole lot of websites and pages in a manner that requires to have as little obstacles as possible. They want their experience to be smooth and effortless, so that they don’t waste time while they are trying to decide what to buy among the myriad of options that are out there. This means that both your website and your store have to provide such an experience.
Your website needs to have very intuitive navigation, and be designed in such a way that people can quickly and easily spot what they are looking for. This is the reason why minimalist approaches are so popular nowadays, and there is extensive use of white space. Your customers don’t want to be bothered by a whole lot of details while they are making the purchase, unless they are interested enough to learn some more (which is when you should offer such an option, but not make it unavoidable).
On the other hand, your shop should replicate such an experience. You want there to be as little distractions as possible. You can design your store the way you would a website, with everything being quite obvious, and appropriate signage, such as in the form of acrylic stands, pointing the customer to exactly where they need to be.
Furthermore, you can look up to Amazon Go’s solution to simplifying the checkout process. When you enter their grocery store, you are able to scan your Amazon Go app, and anything that you choose to buy gets registered by the sensors that are placed all over the store. These sensors are aided by artificial intelligence and radio-frequency identification. As a result, a user’s account gets automatically charged upon leaving the store.
You must also never forget that, in the end, you are also fighting the fight against your competition. This means that your solutions need to be better than theirs, and you need to cover any option that customers are crazy about at the moment.
And, as we have ascertained in this article, this most definitely means that you need to combine your online and physical efforts. Leaving one of those two out is not an option, as optimizing both is pretty much a matter of survival for retailers all across the world today.