There is lots of talk about the “retail apocalypse” and how traditional retailers are destroyed by the shift to online. The reality is that shoppers are still shopping, but their discretionary spending is pulled in new and different ways. Retail sales across channels, including Cyber Monday opening times, continue to grow. However, that growth is being driven by premium and value-based retailers, with mid-priced retailers reporting flat growth and store closures. Retail isn’t being destroyed, but is incorporated in the process of being redefined. How retailers choose to define themselves determines if we will discover their whereabouts on the other part.
To assist maintain their edge against your competitors, retailers are ramping up their usage of in-store technology to fulfill their customer support needs and push their clients to purchase more online. Consumers expect seamless experiences, and automation means retailers is able to reduce their workforce to be able to defend ever-shrinking margins. It’s a win-win, right?
The unfortunate the truth is that retail’s use of technology is backfiring. Rather than keeping their clients loyal and buying direct, it pushes them straight into Amazon’s territory. And as soon as shoppers start buying from Amazon, they generally don’t return.
Data and solid analysis comprise the building blocks for any successful business today. Nevertheless they only get you to date. They illuminate correlations in behaviors, although not the causes behind the behaviors. Knowing the “why” – the motivations behind behaviors – requires stepping from your office and in your consumer’s world. Only then will you be able to craft strategies that speak directly to your consumers’ needs, including the unarticulated ones.
We explored several mid- and value-priced retailers to achieve insights into their Holiday hours, challenges, and aspirations. What we should found was eye-opening.
Signage and visual cues are frequent and prominent, pushing shoppers to use their phones for help or to check out. Requests to associates for help are addressed via referral to your digital device or even the customer support desk. Employees stock shelves or ring up purchases, and they are generally not able to assist shoppers.
Merchandise waiting to be restocked is piled high in shopping carts, on check-out tables, and on the racks themselves. Technology that’s meant to make everyone’s lives easier is frequently broken, unusable, and ignored. Digital shoppers are used to streamlined, curated experiences which are frictionless from start to finish. Our in-store experiences were rife with hurdles, disappointments, and distractions that needed to be overcome in order to transact.
In just one trip, we discovered a display of soft ice cream makers. No boxes were marked with a price, therefore we flagged down a passing store associate, who told us that normally we could use a price scanner, however the one nearby was broken. She directed us to customer support – halfway across the store – to ask them to scan it for all of us. The consumer service rep managed to tell us the purchase price, but couldn’t answer our questions about just how the product actually worked. She told us to discover techniques to our questions online. We quickly found the item on our phones, but additionally found universal, overwhelmingly-negative reviews of any product that didn’t actually work. The package went back on the shelf and that we left the shop empty-handed and disappointed.
Our in-store shopping experience was the antithesis of online. It required multiple steps that failed us at every point of engagement. We had no need to return and experience in-store shopping again once we egjlda shop a lot more easily online. Make use of physical locations to delight customers, not alienate them. Your store’s experience is likely created to maximize sales per square foot. Imagine if instead you designed an in-store experience coming from a place of love? Remember: Your customer shops in-store because she needs to, not because she needs to.
How loyal would your customer be for your brand if she walked in to a store that welcomed, surprised, and delighted her? The one that made her life easier and made her feel loved? What would that look like for the brand? Even if What time does does stores open on sunday ultimate role is really as a feeder for online, you need to do anything you can to safeguard that direct line, which means you don’t lose your prospects to Amazon.
Who’s doing it right? Consider Sephora and Athleta. Customers are designed to feel welcome and associates help them to shop. Or the Apple Store, which is actually a giant showroom where customers are personally guided through purchases (basically the same process that happens online). Rather than joining the low-price race for the bottom, these retailers are continuing to offer their clients experiences that keep these loyal and acquiring direct.