Endless Aisle vs. E-Commerce In-Store: A Digital Showdown

Jun 13, 2017 — Megan Howse
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In one of our recent blogs, What is Endless Aisle? Two Important, But Very Different, Definitions we discussed the difference between endless aisle as fulfillment and endless aisle as an interactive kiosk.

According to a recent study, 84% of respondents said investing in the in-store experience is very to extremely important, and 28% of retailers felt one of the biggest challenges competing with online is matching the extensive product assortment. Many retailers are implementing endless aisle to compete with online giants like Amazon by matching the product range customers can find online.

Retailers often feel the easiest way to implement endless aisle in store is to put their e-commerce site on tablets. However, many are finding this strategy to be unsuccessful when it comes to customer engagement. I encourage you to ask yourself, what’s the benefit above and beyond the customer just looking at your site on their mobile phones?

When implementing in-store technology, you don’t want the digital experience to be “just” as powerful as online. You want it to be even MORE powerful. It should be something that can empower your sales associates and customers, and help you to save the sale. This is where endless aisle technology intended for in-store use can go above and beyond your existing online site.

1. POS integration. The whole idea of having an endless aisle option is to allow customers to buy virtual product that may not be physically available at that moment. It’s a lot to ask of your customers to transact on an e-commerce site for a product that needs to be shipped to them and then transact again for any physical product. Likely the customer is going to say “No” to one of those purchases. A great endless aisle solution integrates with the point of sale, allowing for a seamless transaction with one payment point for the customer.

2. Rich and engaging content. Often websites, despite updates, don’t have the touch interactivity for customers that we would like them to have. If customers or sales reps hit a frustration point using technology, they are likely to walk away and unlikely to use it again. A great endless aisle system should be seamless with physical product displays and include high-quality graphics and videos that react and load incredibly quick. It should also have the opportunity to grow with you and support concepts like 3D content and VR integrations.

3. Online vs. offline. Who remembers the days of the dial-up internet clanging away to connect with painfully slow load times? According to this BBC article, nowadays, if a page doesn’t load within 3 seconds, more than half of shoppers are likely to abandon it. But let’s face it, maintaining strong Wi-Fi signals can be incredibly difficult when you’re running multiple devices and systems. While running online ensures real-time inventory and pricing information, sometimes offline technology can be the best experience for the customer. You can connect devices to update information during off-hours.

4. Video idle mode and branded start screens. When putting your e-commerce site on a screen or tablet, there is no additional branding opportunity or reason for your customers to stop and engage with the technology. With in-store endless aisle technology, you can use the video idle mode to act as both digital signage and as a call-to-action for the customers to engage with the screen. You can also use branded start screens to encourage shoppers to interact, and help them find or discover new items more easily.   

5. Central device management. One of the major challenges in implementing new technologies in multiple locations is ensuring the devices stay powered on and active for customers to use. By putting your website on tablets across many locations it can be difficult to understand if they are active or not, but you are also forced to put the same thing on every device. With great endless aisle technologies intended for the in-store purpose you not only have the ability to understand what devices are online or not, but you can also push different configurations, products, and promotions to different regions, locations, or right down to device depending on its position.

Curious about how you can implement endless aisle in your stores? Check out our Digital In-Store and Endless Aisle Lookbook!

Download the Lookbook

Topics: Customer Experience, Retail Marketing

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