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Optimizing the In-Store Experience

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Even with online shopping continuing to grow, a survey conducted recently by Accenture showed that 21% more shoppers plan on increasing their in-store purchases this year. That’s up almost 10% from last year’s survey.

When asked what was the biggest improvement needed, 40% of the respondents said improving the in-store shopping experience was the most important. This is not news, but there are obviously enough stores out there that haven’t gotten the message.

With the lines blurring between online shopping and Main Street shopping, it’s clear consumers want the convenience of shopping online and one of the most important factors is being able to get product information and availability in-store.

31% of the shoppers surveyed indicated that having the chance to check product availability online before going to the store is the service that would most improve the shopping experience. And if real-time information from the retailer on product availability was offered, almost 90% said they would travel to the store or buy on the store’s website.

Continuity and seamlessness is key. Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture's retail practice, says, “Those retailers able to integrate the physical store with the rest of their digital capabilities, and who also use analytics to support new models of customer engagement and personalized service, can gain a true competitive advantage.”

Another facet of the re-vamped in-store experience is especially important with fashion retailers. One new fashion idea is to place wall-mounted tablets in dressing rooms. Getting personal attention from sales staff is vital in the shopping process, but additionally, tablets in dressing rooms can help shoppers choose clothing and accessories from the dressing room "catalog" and have those items delivered right to the room. This approach allows even the most basic fashion brands that normally compete on price to add an element of the "personal shopper" experience. And the tablets can also be used to access sales associates who can get a different size or color for the customer.

In 2012, beauty retailer Sephora integrated its website and mobile apps to integrate the in-store and online experience. Customer’s online searches and purchases are integrated as part of the customer's loyalty program profile. With this information, Sephora can better target-market programs based on data the customer has on file. Translation: increased sales.

Let’s not leave out the supermarkets. PwC’s report, Front of the Line: how grocers can get ahead for the future, illustrates changing consumer segments and preferences. According to PwC, 83 percent of survey respondents prefer to shop at traditional grocery stores. That is unlikely to change in the future; however, customers will likely call for more personal connections with their grocer in the form of targeted coupons and deals, focused reward programs and convenient, efficient in-store shopping experiences.

The report also reflects shoppers wishes to look to store employees as shopping advisors, whether for additional product information, new recipe tips or purchase recommendations, as they will want increased service and assistance with decision making.

PcW’s advice for grocers:

  1. Knowing those who live closest to your store and tailoring layout, format and customizing preferences, accordingly.
  2. Personalizing market strategies. Labeling products clearly illustrating sustainable qualities will allow consumers to better relate to the product. Consumers also value community and expect their local supermarket to support community events, which can be marketed through the store.
  3. Supporting and educating your staff to become more customer-centric and informed about new products, while building relationships with customers.
  4. Transforming technology to include in-store information kiosks, in-aisle tablets and robust mobile applications for customers to readily access the information.
  5. Your loyalty program can mean the difference between choosing your store and a competitor’s. Offering customer loyalty points for purchasing promotional items in the store can help push new products at higher price points, increase sales and boost a store's reputation as a health-conscious grocer.
TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers,
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