When it comes to today’s consumer, the tangled web that is the new path to purchase leaves little room for finding a common link amongst all your customers – except, one could argue, the unifying desire for convenience.
Old shoppers, young shoppers, millennials, and everyone in between all want their retail experience to be as easy as possible.
One of retail’s responses to this push for convenience was the rise of in-store kiosks. We saw them pop up heavily in grocery and mass merchants in the form of self-serve checkouts and research and consulting group RBR pegs the number of self-checkouts in the world to reach more than 335,000 by 2020. But a purely transactional self-serve option hasn’t appealed to shoppers in many other retail verticals – they want more from an in-store kiosk.
With the rise of online and mobile shopping, consumers are getting more and more used to having a wealth of information at their fingertips. While according to The 2015 TimeTrade State of Retail Report, 85% of consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores, many of those shopper journeys begin online. So now, convenience doesn’t just mean your shoppers don’t want to stand in line, it also means they want to combine the benefits of online shopping with the comforts (touch and feel, support from sales associates) of shopping in store. With advances in interactive kiosks, or solutions commonly referred to as endless aisle, retailers can offer a more three dimensional experience to customers than a simple self-serve checkout can achieve.
1. Brand Ambassadors
For instance, endless aisle solutions benefit more than just your customers. They can be excellent sales assist tools. The customer that walks into your store today is vastly more educated on your products than shoppers have been in the past – simply because of the research they’re able to do online in advance. With the knowledge bar raised, how to do you ensure your sales team is up to snuff? Endless aisle solutions can pull in-depth product information that can turn your sales associates into brand ambassadors by making up-to-date content available at the tap of a screen. Your brand ambassadors can expertly walk your customers through their purchase decision.
2. Sell more stuff
Once again, this is another point where online shopping has influenced consumer behavior. Your customers expect the same selection they can find online, in your stores. Most retailers aren’t able to increase their footprints to accommodate more stock, not to mention the risk associated with carrying more inventory. Virtual shelf solutions combined with a drop ship service allow retailers to display products that are either not physically stocked or simply out of stock at the moment. Imagine never having to turn a customer that came in for a specific item. Your brand ambassadors can bring it up on your catalog of virtual stock and have it drop shipped to the store or directly to the customer’s front door.
3. Shop Their Way
So we started off by talking about self-serve checkouts. Many customers find value in being able to walk into your store, find what they want, pay, and be on their merry way. And that’s fine! You no longer have to offer a one-experience-fits-all option to your customers. Endless aisle, if done properly, can function as both a sales assist tool and a self-serve option. Endless aisle solutions have evolved to be extremely intuitive and user friendly. With today’s tech-savvy shopper, they can walk to the interactive touchscreen, find what they’re looking for, use the checkout function, and head off to their next destination. For the shopper that wants that all-important human interaction that only a physical store can provide, your brand ambassadors are there to use the kiosk right along with them. The choice is all up to your customer – as it should be!
Interested in learning more about endless aisle? Checkout our whitepaper titled, Best Practices for Bringing Endless Aisle Into Your Retail Strategy.