Three Ways The Blended Shopping Experience Makes Happy Customers

Sixteen years into the 21st century, online shopping has gone from new frontier to status quo, offering fierce competition to brick-and-mortar stores and forever changing the shopping landscape. But that’s all set to change, thanks to advancements in Wi-Fi and mobile devices.

With a phone in every pocket and opportunities created by in-store Wi-Fi, the next shopping shift is upon us – one that combines the physical, online, and mobile worlds. As such, a retail strategy now needs to have a blended approach that crosses all three channels and guarantee a seamless experience.

Retailers that can figure out a way to blend all three experiences will be best-placed in capturing this opportunity all year round and in turn strengthen the dynamics of this relationship.

What is the blended retail experience?

Retailers, particularly those with physical stores, are experimenting and implementing digital strategies that have created a very different type of retail experience; one that is impacting sales and the customer experience.

Home Depot, for example, sells over 3,000 appliances in- store, but away from the shop-floor in order to utilize this space. It has embraced the digital challenge, and created a customer-focused, endless-aisle experience that brings the entire inventory to the sales floor via an app.

Luxury brand Kate Spade recently partnered with eBay to bring the online shopping experience to the storefront. It launched a 24-hour window shop in Manhattan where shoppers could browse and select items via a touchscreen on the shop window and then pay for the item via their phone while scheduling a free one-hour delivery from anywhere in the city.

What is striking about both of these examples is that each retailer is thinking about this experience as being delivered through one blended channel – physical, online, and mobile – rather than three silos.

Here are three ways retailers are using the blended approach:

1) Attract shoppers in-store by making it worth their while: It is becoming even easier for shoppers to make a purchase without ever stepping into a physical shop. Failing to bridge this gap will incur a huge amount of missed revenue that could otherwise be claimed by using a blended approach.

If shoppers aren’t coming in-store, give them a reason to. Many retailers host special events or invite shoppers to flash sales that draw them to the store. Others offer a click-and-collect option to pick up purchases instead of forcing them to wait at home for a delivery. Once shoppers are in-store, the appetite for upselling and cross-selling is greater.

2)  Ensure convenience is at the heart of any strategy: Consumers expect nothing but the best when it comes to shopping across different channels. According to Forrester, 71 percent of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online, while 50 percent expect to buy online and pick up in-store.

It has also found that 61 percent still value asking sales associates for information about items in-store. Merging the online convenience with the in-store experience will not only meet these expectations, but provide retailers with the opportunity to exceed them.

3) Arm store associates with the data to create relationships that last: Being treated as a VIP shopper will always attract, engage, and retain shoppers who will become loyal to a brand because they feel understood. The blended approach allows retailers to develop genuine relationships using customer data and smart devices that make use of Wi-Fi enabled in-store environments.

Arming store assistants with this real-time data and mobile devices can help turn these customer insights into actionable data to create more in-the-moment experiences that convert into sales.

The blended approach can impact retailers’ sales and relationship with shoppers. This approach matters because shoppers are constantly connected and so retailers need to respond to this situation to give them the experience they expect.

Investing in the technology that can help turn the data collected into actionable data will help build this new experience and from here, strengthen the relationship between retailer and the consumer; one where the retailer is able to govern the dynamics of this relationship.

 

Bill Hoppin is VP, Business Development at Aerohive. He is on the go all the time and likes to blog about cool things he finds along the way,

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