A new year, a new you… right? As 2016 comes to a close, consumers are hoping for a new retail experience too.
If you’re a retailer, it’s likely the challenges of shifting toward being an omnichannel retailer have crossed your plate at one point or another. It can be extremely challenging to know where to start.
Over the past several years, many retailers made a mad dash to the great online. Building out e-commerce websites was a major goal and focus. While that shift in retail was (and is) very important, it left the in-store experience rather neglected. Between online and mobile, in-store is now the middle child of retail.
The in-store experience is broken and needs to be redefined. But how?
Look beyond the transaction
In the past, people came to your store for one reason. They needed to make a purchase. If the item wasn’t there, they either purchased something else or resolved to come back later. It’s far from that simple today. Today’s consumers have options. They can buy pretty much anything online. So why do so many (85% according to TimeTrade research) still bother to go in-store? Being able to touch and feel, learn from a brand ambassador, share a social experience and connect with retail on a personalized and emotional level are a few of the reasons. Are your stores overcrowded? Or worse, plagued with out of stocks? Are your sales reps equipped with the right tools and knowledge to turn them into brand ambassadors or are they basically human mannequins? Does your store speak to your customer on an emotional level and connect with the ideals they identify with like Toms, tentree or Warby Parker?
Create a destination
Shoppers today are most loyal to brands they identify as being part of their lifestyle. These brands bring together communities of like-minded individuals. Think yoga classes at Lululemon or Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Rooms. Bringing people together to share an experience in your store has the potential to create loyalty the online world will never be able to match. Millennials have now surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation. According to Accenture, the United States alone is home to 80 million Millennials who spend roughly $600 billion annually. N/A Marketing’s head of strategy, Marissa de Miguel, highlights the motivations of Millennials beautifully. As she puts it, “The future belongs to pervasive brands – brands that behave like our most valued relationships. They flow seamlessly in and out of our lives; they don’t just mirror our wants and aspirations, but contribute to them in meaningful ways. Brands that can provide us with this kind of experience are brands we’ll open our wallets for.”
Invest in tools that make sense
We hear a lot about blending online with in-store but actually achieving this is much more complicated than adding a bunch of tech to your stores. The tools you bring in must solve a pain point for your customers. What is it about your current in-store experience that is causing your customers the most frustration? Is it your inventory mix? Stock outs? Not enough (or maybe too much?) sales assistance? Does the in-store experience not align with what they experience on your website or other channels? Until you know what problem you have you can’t go looking for solutions – no matter how cool new technology might be.
Keep your eye to the future
Okay, so I just said don’t get caught up in cool new technology but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on your radar. I’d love to tell you omnichannel is something you can work toward, achieve, and then sit back to reap the benefits but omnichannel is more a philosophy than a strategy. It’s a way of viewing your approach to retail that needs to be imbedded deep within your company’s culture. It’s ongoing. You’ll need to constantly be evolving with your customers which means the solutions you implement today, and the partners you choose to work with, need to be thinking of, and ready for, what’s next.
We’d love to continue the conversation on how to redefine retail with you. We’ll be at NRF in New York City this January with live case studies to show how we’re helping retailers like you. Come check it out!