In 2014, the rise of mobile showrooming (the act of using a mobile device to research a product while in-store, and then buy the item online - often for a lower price) became a threat to many retailers. Retailers who faced increasing pressure to create omnichannel customer experiences for their modern consumers, (consumers who research, compare and buy their products and services across multiple channels and touch-points).
According to the Raconteur, the future of shopping in retail doesn’t necessarily have to be a battle between online and off – arguably, the two can come together in a ‘mutually convenient partnership’.
The Mobile Influence Factor
The latest research from Barclays looks at the evolving field of mCommerce, predicting that UK consumers will spend £53.6bn a year using their smartphones and tablet by 2024…
However, mobile’s real influence on spending is expected to be more than double that, with 42% of all retail sales to involve a mobile device in some way or another. It’s clear that the battle between online and off is over – that bricks-and-mortar and digital must intertwine for retailers to take advantage of this shift in consumer behaviour.
Over the past decade, the proliferation and rapid evolution of smartphones places eCommerce right into the heart of every physical store – and if the retailer acts now, they can use this to their advantage.
But how I hear you ask?
Many retailers recognise that you need to unite and treat mobile and the shopping experience as one. Mobile is about taking the ‘digital’ part of the shopping into the store where 90% of retail happens.
According to a recent report from Deloitte on “The dawn of Mobile Influence”, the biggest impact of smartphones isn’t direct sales generated through the mobile channel…But rather the influence mobile exerts over traditional in-store sales, (driving conversion and average order size in-store). Retailers should consider investments now to leverage the mobile capabilities to avoid getting left behind, as mobile becomes an even more integral part of the overall shopping experience.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
However, when it comes to mobile one size does not fit all. Retailers should take steps to understand their customers and how they shop within specific product categories. Based on these insights, develop appropriate mobile capabilities to support the needs of a smartphone-enabled shopper before, during, and after the shopping experience. Retailers that limit their focus purely on mCommerce may be overlooking a significant opportunity.
Mobile is already having a major impact on store-based sales, and its influence is only increasing. It seems that consumers actually want retailers to facilitate this relationship between online and offline shopping, for example - 54% would like to use digital touchscreens in stores (Source: Cisco). The key is to keep shoppers attention on your own branded experience to avoid valued customers straying to competitors.
Image Source: Washingtonpost.com
Burberry get it too, by adopting a mixture of practical and experimental initiatives. Rather than making the digital journey separate from the in-store experience, their emphasis was on integrating their digital technology with their premium 1920s store.
All the salespeople use iPads that show the customer purchase history and preferences. This empowers sales assistants to provide a more personalised shopping experience. Within their fitting rooms these screens show specific product information. For example; a bag’s stitching detail or how a skirt was worn on the catwalk. And customers are encouraged to pay using portable checkout systems.
By focusing on omnichannel – leveraging digital information at each stage of the customer journey - you can influence the customer’s buying decisions:
Letting them go online, search inventory, buy a product on your mobile or laptop, and schedule it for Click-and-Collect at a more convenient store.
Or go into a physical store and meet knowledgeable sales staff armed with iPads - who can search inventory across all stores - and then transact on the spot. That’s the power of an omnichannel experience.
Do What You Can’t Do Online - Interact
Retailers that are a success consider the 'experiential' needs of the customer. But also how to use online knowledge and data to help staff deliver a better customer experience in-store.
Arguably, a physical shop is necessary for many big retail names, particularly when it comes to high-end or high-value goods. After all, online shopping, is still not for everyone.
Clearly there is a need for shops, which is why many online retailers are opening a physical space. And it’s clear that digital shopping will become more ubiquitous, and will simply become part of the new retail purchasing pathway.
Many online retailers are opening new physical stores or developing existing ones to do exactly what you can’t do online – touch, feel the products and more significantly interact.
This so-called “third space” and “experiential retail” has, in recent years, seen the diverse likes of Levi’s launching a print and photography workshop in their stores, Moss Boss create library areas where retailers can learn about the latest trends and UGG using interactive digital touchscreen signage to allow customers to customise their favourite styles.
Levi’s photo workshop, A Community Photography Creation and Collaboration Venue Opens in NYC (Image Source: http://www.psfk.com/)
Other examples include upmarket brands, such as Dunhill, Louis Vuitton, Fortnum & Mason and Austin Reed, who all host exclusive in-store events. Some having re-styled themselves more as shop-meets-private club. The thinking goes that the more time you spend with a retailer, the more likely loyalty will grow.
Indeed, such developments could prove just the tip of the iceberg for how radically retailers are becoming. However one thing seems certain: tech and notably the way mobile / the smartphone has already changed the retail purchasing process and will continue to do so.
For John Lewis, the future of retail lies in ‘bricks and clicks’, combining the high street and online. In a new report, How we Shop, Live, Look, has analysed a year’s worth of data to find out how its customers shop today. It says that 40% of its online purchases are now collected from a store using its Click and Collect”. That’s a 27% increase compared to a year earlier. “We’ve pioneered this approach,” states the report, “and customers have responded, showing that the combination of bricks and clicks is where the future of retail lies.” Contrary to the masses, John Lewis don’t believe that online is replacing the high street. Instead, their consumers enjoy shopping and browsing as a leisure activity.
Some 42% of John Lewis’ online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablet computers, with fashion a particular draw for mobile users.
If these findings are anything to go by, the future of retail is at hand - and the opportunities are ripe for the taking. The line between “Bricks and Clicks” will continue to blur and retailers must prepare to follow suit - or fall behind.
For more information on how we can help you provide an omnichannel customer experience, get in touch today.
You may also be interested in:
Infographic: The New Retail Purchasing Pathway
In a recent blog, we look at how the retail purchasing pathway has changed given the rise in online and mobile commerce, to read the full blog click here:
The Changing Face of Luxury Retail in an Online World
The main predicament for luxury brands is that a lot of what ‘makes’ a luxury brand occurs offline, so how do you provide stylish showrooms, attentive customer service & professional advice online?
Deloitte, The Dawn of Mobile Influence
eConsultancy, 50 fascinating stats about mobile commerce in the UK 2015
Internet Retailing – The Future of Retail is in Bricks and Clicks
Smartphone Owners Want More Mobile Information in Stores
The Future of Shopping is Both Bricks & Clicks:
Catch and Keep the Digital Shopper, Cisco