If you’ve seen the Jungle Book, you might remember that scene where Mowgli is under the spell of Kaa - the python. He is rescued and snaps out of the spell before he gets eaten but that scene is significant in understanding the state of retail. Today, the offline retail industry is spellbound and believes it is fighting a battle with their online counterparts that it may eventually lose. But if you ask me, this is just a spell which needs to be broken.
Sure, digital-only providers have a massive cost advantage and they win with a combination of innovation, fast transactions and low-price points. Physical stores on the other hand, must work harder to compete as online sales soar. Retailers know that they must find innovative ways to bring their customers all the experiences that they love when they buy online, such as:
- Easy access to product information
- Plenty of choice for the product they are looking to buy
- Seamless engagement as they move from one channel to another
- Competitive pricing
- Fast and friction-less checkout experiences
But they also need the things that they can’t get from a website:
- A friendly and knowledgeable sales associate
- A sense of community to make you feel welcomed
- The opportunity to touch and feel the products
- Instant gratification as the customers walk away with the goods right after paying for them
- The option to buy the same things that they see in store through other channels without any hassle
The trick to breaking this spell is not by separating your digital and physical stores – it is by keeping them together. There are many strategies that retailers can use to make online and offline stores work together. Here are a couple of examples:
- Mobile Shopping Apps - With mobile shopping apps, merchants can connect with their customers on yet another touchpoint and provide them the convenience of buying from the comfort of their home. Goods can easily be ordered, paid and even delivered right to your doorstep. These mobile apps also enable merchants to drive customers to physical stores with different offers, coupons and home delivery options.
- Click and Collect and Curbside Pickup - Many times shoppers have already made their decision of what they want to buy before they even go to a store. This is where merchants can offer the convenience of click and collect and curbside pickups. With these two strategies, customers save time on going into the store to browse and find the product and the merchants can provide a seamless shopping experience.
Breaking This Spell
Online and offline together hold the key to a merchant’s overall growth and success. Together they can make the shopping experience a delight, with well-informed staff providing personalized services and flexible delivery options. Learn more about how you can enhance your customer’s retail shopping experience by downloading this playbook.
Drew Goebel is the Sr. Business Analyst at Ingenico Group, North America