It is imperative that the Retail Industry responds to growing consumer needs with a joined-up, omni-channel approach online, but what about your brick-and-mortar store? Read on to find out how you can present a seamless consumer experience from your bricks to their clicks.
There has been a huge amount of pressure put upon retailers in recent years. If you’ve been following our
eCommerce news section
, you’ll know all about the troubles John Lewis has had with Click & Collect, too swamped with orders online to be able to keep the service free of charge any longer. This is a quick fix to a more serious problem: how do we ensure that the consumer receives top quality service whether online or offline?
Retailers have been struggling with how to approach this; in my article on
why eCommerce could save the high street
, I talked about a few methods in brief that could be used to aid the brick-and-mortar store in the digital age, but looking specifically at the Retail Industry, there are a couple of tricks that could really be used to your advantage.
Staff knowledge and empowerment
Like it or not, one of the key problems with retail stores is the current perception surrounding the staff themselves. In a recent whitepaper by MarketLive looking at consumer trends, they found that 60% of consumers believe that they themselves are more knowledgeable than store staff about everything from pricing to product availability. This is a huge deciding factor in whether the consumer has a good or bad association with a brand, as 54% said they would buy more from stores where associates were knowledgeable.
There are numerous things that can be done to improve this level of knowledge and thereby help to develop the relationship between your online and offline experience. For example, the importance of the correct training of staff cannot be exaggerated. This is absolutely crucial to ensuring that your offline experience is engaging, but it also helps to improve the motivations of your staff. If they are more knowledgeable through the right instruction, it will give them a confidence boost in their working environment, making them more likely to approach customers in order to inform and help them, leading to more up-selling for you.
Or, what about staff technology? Sometimes equipping your staff with tablets or other mobile devices which have specially designed apps to assist them in-store can work wonders. It could be an app that puts together a profile for the client, suggesting possible products for them, or it could be a locator with a map of the store. Customers could put in the product name and find out exactly where it is – or better yet, let them log in to their own account!
If you follow this line of thinking, the customer perception of staff as well as their interaction with them will be improved, encouraging people to visit in-store rather than online. They know they will get the same level of advice and expertise that they would receive from a LiveChat session on your website.
Another highlight of the MarketLive whitepaper, was in reference to showrooming: shoppers frequently turn to their mobile devices when seeking information while in stores. As you can see from our graphic above, when checking product prices, 59% of consumers say they prefer to consult their devices, versus 17% who say they’d ask a store associate and 29% who’d consult an informational kiosk. Even if they merely want to find out where an item is located in the store, 47% of shoppers say they prefer to use their devices, with just 20% saying they’d ask a staff member and 33% saying they’d consult a kiosk.
We’ve just looked at how we can improve this on the staff side of things, but what about empowering the customer directly? By including stations in your store specifically for online consultation of your website, visitors will see that you are an always-online business that is aware of current trends. They can see that you want your customers to interact with you on their level.
It can even prove to be a nice piece of marketing! Encourage them to like your Facebook page or Tweet you for a 10% off voucher. Don’t shy away from showrooming – it could be a fantastic opportunity to shine above the competition.
Encourage returns in-store
It can be all too easy to simply dismiss your online customers by accident, letting them send their returns via post. However, many consumers actually prefer to do this in-store because of the convenience. This is something that you definitely want to encourage, but as we have just seen, it can be difficult to keep them there.
The trick here is to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible, and something like an automated system can help you achieve this. In the same way that a designated online station can help browsing customers, why not let your returning customers log-in and perhaps register their return there and then. It can notify a member of staff so they are seen immediately, leaving them open to the chance for up-sell or product recommendations via the newly highly-trained member of staff. The positive experience alone could even be enough to tempt them into browsing – something which would have been impossible via a postal return.
Surviving in this kind of fast-paced environment can be a struggle for many companies, but by making the effort to connect your brick-and-mortar experience with your eCommerce platform, you will reap the rewards of a truly omni-channel experience.
Staff empowerment, training and the complete touchpoint engagement for your workforce and customer-base alike, are absolutely crucial elements to this evolving marketplace. The fact that customers want to search your site is a good thing, as is the fact they are walking around your store – by recognising that they are perfectly happy moving from one to the other simultaneously, you will be able to engage with them on a more personal level.
Usually returns represent a loss in revenue, but by adding a speedy service initiative for people returning things in-store, you can turn this around and make it an opportunity to inform and sell to that customer in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Follow these tips and you could be able to provide that seamless experience you have been searching for.
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