Even though 56% of overall consumers favor in-store shopping as it provides the ability to touch, feel, and try on products. There are about 67% of zoomers and millennials who favor online shopping. Well, these stats go to say that consumers are not dependent on one channel or one mode of shopping. Your consumers love to jump from one channel to another (including offline and online) to complete a purchase. That’s why the only way to thrive in the consumer retail industry is to have connected retail.
Connected retail and its importance
The core function of connected retail is to make the shopping experience customer-centric i.e., to be where the customer is without having channel limitations. A well-executed approach will ensure that the experience is consistent, relevant, and hyper-personalized. This approach will especially offer the below characteristics:
Channel agnostic – Having multiple channel shopping. Shopping and purchase should not be driven through a single channel but offer customers the choice to use whatever channel to shop or complete a purchase.
Payment and shipment agility – Providing flexible payment options such as pay later, cash on delivery, buy now and pay after delivery, and the basic pay at store/app/website. Similar flexibility in terms of shipping including buy at the store and deliver at home, order online and pick-up at the store, and more.
Smooth shopping experience – Offering consistent shopping experience by knowing customer’s preference, activity, historical data (purchase, cart abandonment or wishlist). Along with this, ensure all your channels are working in sync to offer hyper-personalized communication.Presented by Clover Network – merchant services
Let us understand what are the high-level benefits for brands executing connected retail experiences.
1. More Sales
By having connected offline and online inventory, you’ll be able to offer identical products across channels. This will give you an opportunity to ensure those unavailable products in your store can be provided on the app/website. So eventually allowing your customers to not abandon their purchase intent as they will find the products at either channel. Overall, you are able to create more sales using multiple channels and boosting the ROI as well.
2. Higher Footfalls
Connected space and inventory for store, app, and/or website will provide products availability transparency across channels. This will allow you to ease your multi-shipment methods (like click-and-collect, store pick-up), thereby driving customers to visit stores. Also, options like click-and-reserve so that customers can later pick the same item after trying it in stores will increase the store footfalls.
3. Consistent experience
Any customer prefers to have a relevant, consistent purchase journey across the touchpoints. If you are offering them a personal experience at the store with an assistant to help with inventory and products then a similar experience should be added to other touchpoints. Without connected retail, this experience is not possible as your touchpoints are not talking to each other. Having your store talk to your app or website, and sending related look books, next item to purchase, favourite brands/catalogues, and more adds value to the shopping experience. This will also allow the customer to come back to your brand and improve overall LTV.
4. Personalized engagement
With centralized data i.e, customer demographics, preferences, last searched/purchased items, and more, it becomes easier to offer a more personalized engagement. A connected approach will provide even more insightful data on customers across channels, especially online channels such as last active, last searched items, saved products, and more. All this data would eventually allow you to create more meaningful communication with the customers and assist them accordingly with their purchases.
5. Easier Navigation
A connected approach means the customer is not confined to just one touchpoint to complete its purchase or even look for products. As this approach provides three or more touchpoints across channels like store, in-app, website, and social channels; it gets easier for customers to navigate through their purchase journey. Overall offers a more seamless experience too as customers can purchase anytime from anywhere.
Strategies for connected retail
There’s a strong demand for retailers to move from being product-centric to customer-centric. That’s where having connected retail can be most helpful. However, what are the high-level strategies these retailers can apply? Well, here’s what these brands can do.
Integrate physical and digital experience to understand micro-moments
Your customers are not buying products at the first instance nor using the same channel. There are everywhere using multiple channels while doing multiple things at the same. Also, during any single purchase, they take some critical actions that convert into your micro-moments. Using these intent-rich moments to drive customers on the right path will ensure conversion improvement. Hence, integrating your physical and digital channels with help you analyze and monitor these moments. While allowing you to understand the various channel touchpoints utilized during a purchase. Once you know these moments, you can tailor engagement and experience accordingly using the right channel. Adding to this, understanding crucial micro-moments will help in reducing drop-offs as you’ll be able to analyze at what action your customer abandoned purchase. So you can plan engagement campaigns focusing on these sensitive moments. Eventually, allowing you to drive more macro conversions.
Add touchpoints across multiple channels
As a retailer or even e-commerce brand, you can focus on just one or two touchpoints but it needs to be multi-touch. This is mainly because your customer is everywhere, they may be searching a product online while entering the store. Or they may be scrolling social media while shopping. In fact, stats show that 31% of customers do their shopping while scrolling through their social media. So create multiple touchpoints while focusing on multiple channels like social media platforms. You can create product review videos, start influencer marketing, provide social buying while keeping delivery/shipment flexible. Even Retail Dive observes that more than 80% of generation Z and 74% of millennials insist social media influence purchases. It is all about mixing the relevant touchpoint with an appropriate channel. All this together will help your increase your brand reach while offering relevant means to shop to your customer.
Build an insights-led engagement approach
Connected retail is all about relevant, personalized, and seamless experiences, and to execute something at such a minuscule customer level requires something insightful. Retailers should look at building an insights-led approach—
- analyze and predict micro-moments across channels to create custom segments
- design hyper-personalized messaging across channels based on preferences and purchase history
- create omnichannel engagement to ensure conversions of micro-moments
- Build loyalty/subscription programs for offline and online channels to reengage customers
An approach at this level will allow retail brands to go deeper with their communication and make a more long-lasting impression.
Establish a long-term relationship with loyalty/subscription program
It only makes sense for retailers to bring back customers (one purchase or more) to their store, app, or website. And the easiest yet effective way to do that is to create loyalty/subscription programs. Such programs not only create a longer customer lifecycle but also allow you to generate brand ambassadors. With your insights-led engagement approach, you already have insights on customers and their purchase patterns. Use these insights to segment customers who have purchased twice or more times and then ask them to sign-up for your program. These programs can be free or paid depending on the tiers and complexity of the program envisioned. You can add different customers actions such as sharing product links, rating a product(s), writing product or app reviews etc. As these actions will also help you further your brand name and trust, it is only fair to reward such customers. Guess that’s why 70% of millennials put their faith in online reviews and ratings.
Building customer journeys for a meaningful experience
Now that you know the strategies to execute for your connected retail experiences. Let us see how you can build seamless customer journeys.
Create journey using micro-moments
Focus on critical moments that make or break your purchase cycle and create customer journeys using these moments. All the small actions that a customer/user takes on your app/website or even store are important towards that one big goal – purchase. So it is crucial that when creating journeys these moments are given equal importance.
Utilize actions and events to segment
Every action your customer takes is a gold mine data for you. Using this gold mine to segment users is the best way to create a more hyper-personalized experience. No marketers these days focus on creating generic segmentation as that doesn’t serve the purpose of relevancy and customization. Hence focus on actions and then create similar events that can be used to perform custom segmentation.
Set-up engagement workflows using multiple channels
When it comes to engaging, always use multiple channels as touchpoints to drive customers to complete an action or more. Your customer is everywhere so your engagement should be everywhere too but with some relevancy and logic. So set up workflows that engage your customer across channels without losing the essence of personalized messaging.
We all know that the shopping paradigm is shifting drastically, thanks to the invention of new technologies and access to new channels. Hence, one of the many reasons why seamless experience across offline and online channels is a normal customer expectation. With connected experience across channels and touchpoints, your brand will be able to bridge a lot many gaps while preserving communication authenticity.
Name: Ankita Kaushik
Bio: Ankita is a content marketer with a strong background in writing and editing. She has worked with various publishing media houses and product companies that helped her add more skills to her core subject – content. She is an avid reader, a passionate book review blogger, and loves to share her interests with the web audience. She always yearns to learn new things to widen her knowledge. All her interests help her contribute more to her work.