To say this year’s holiday season will be a tough one for retailers is an understatement. Foot traffic is down in physical stores, and online retail competition grows. Many retailers are crossing the physical/digital divide to meet customer needs in all channels. Amazon, Bonobos (recently acquired by Walmart), Rent The Runway, and others are all investing in in-store experiences, while Macy’s, Nordstrom, and others expand their digital capabilities.
Holiday shopping is also in transition. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have merged into a months-long marathon of deals. It’s an exhausting run up to the end of the year that seems to start earlier each year. Fear not, retailers. Here is a survival guide with tips on how to think differently, engage shoppers, and outlast competitors in all channels.
What retailers need to know about the modern shopper
Shoppers who use more than one channel to shop spend about 4 percent more in the store and 10 percent more online than single-channel customers, reports Harvard Business Review. Also, the more channels they use, the more shoppers spend with one retail brand. For example, customers who used four or more channels spent 9 percent more in the store when compared to those who used just one channel.
Shoppers who research a product through multiple channels likely have a strong interest in making a purchase. It’s therefore up to retailers to provide a frictionless experience. Retailers would do well to align their digital content with the in-store experience. Include information about in-store sales on your website and via social media; give customers the option to buy online and pick up in store; provide real-time information about in-store inventory online.
Forget about showrooming— shoppers are switching to webrooming
With so much information online, more shoppers are researching items online and purchasing them in stores. This practice is known as webrooming. According to a recent Harris poll, 69 percent of shoppers webroom, while only 46 percent showroom—going to the store to research an item but then buy it online. Webroomers also tend to spend more. Conducting prior online research on the retailer’s own site or sites of other retailers led to 13 percent greater in-store spending among omnichannel shoppers, finds Harvard Business Review.
Consider why customers want to come to a store to complete a purchase and try to meet those expectations. A survey by Merchant Warehouse on why customers chose to webroom over showroom found that 47 percent didn’t want to pay for shipping, 37 percent want to be able to return the item at the store if needed, and 36 percent will ask the store to price match an online price. Also focus on providing a better in-store customer experience, such as with knowledgeable sales and customer service staff, in-store pick-ups of online orders, or mobile discounts encouraging shoppers to buy in-store.
Customers want better, not more, functions
Retailers are on the right track by modernizing their stores with mobile experiences, but doing so without adding value to the customer experience is a waste of resources. In fact, 74 percent of shoppers would shop at a retailer that offered an improved mobile in-store experience over competitors, according to Digital Management Inc. However, customers aren’t impressed by tablets mounted on store walls or a charging station if these additions don’t address their needs.
Create in-store digital experiences that are relevant and useful to the shopper. Before investing in new technology, consider how it affects the customer. Does it remove a pain point or help customers in some other way? Answering these questions can make it clearer whether this is a must-have versus nice-to-have solution.
For more tips on how to drive sales and customer satisfaction during the holiday season check out our complete 2017 Holiday Retail Survival Guide.