With e-commerce growing at an exponential rate, the value of bricks and mortar is often overlooked. Yet, with 95 per cent of all retail purchases worldwide still made in-store, the high street and retail outlets are not the dying breed we’re sometimes led to believe. In-store purchases are projected to grow by over £190 million by 2018, so brands should be putting emphasis on improving the in-store experience to help customers make more informed purchasing decisions.
For brands to fully engage with consumers in-store they need a deeper understanding of the shopper journey as a whole. It’s about getting to grips with increasingly complex buying behaviours. With consumers using both online and in-store research to make purchasing decisions, particularly on considered ‘high ticket’ products, brands should be proactively using online data to enhance the customer experience in-store.
Getting the blend right
Researching products online whilst in-store, using smartphones and even smartwatches is becoming more common amongst consumers. As shoppers become increasingly more connected, 20 per cent of shoppers measure high street prices online and purchase products via mobile devices in-store (Shopper Tribes). It’s clear that new technologies are having a significant impact on the retail experience.
To meet the ever-demanding needs of consumers, forward-thinking brands are increasingly using social media to engage with their target audience. Among 18 to 35 year olds, 14 percent are using Facebook to ‘check-in’ to stores and 15 per cent use social platforms to discuss products with their peers. While social media is a popular way to engage with the younger generation, brands need to understand how to cater to every age group. For example, shoppers aged 55 and over prefer to use online research to help them make informed decisions when purchasing electronic goods in-store. In an evolving Omnichannel landscape, a one size fits all approach will not work if brands seek to cater to consumers across the board.
Making it personal
While e-commerce is changing the way people shop, the average online shopping basket is broadly made up of smaller purchases. As such, when it comes to high ticket consumer and luxury brands, the high street remains the destination of choice for making a purchase. As shoppers, we will always be motivated by the ability to touch, feel and experience products before making considered purchases. Living in a digital world, the brand you desire to wear and use remains an expression of your identity and lifestyle. Having the opportunity to view products in-person rather than through a screen is a rewarding experience for shoppers.
Ultimately, the benefits of shopping in-store can outweigh the convenience of purchasing items online. However, for consumers to realise the unique selling points of the in-store retail experience, integrating an Omnichannel approach is key. If consumers are researching products online, branding in-store should be streamlined to improve sales and product recall to enhance the customer journey. By using ATL advertising across digital platforms, including social media, brands can drive shoppers in store, leading to improved conversion rates and profitability long term.
Retail outlets and the high street can offer a sensory experience for shoppers that the virtual world struggles to compete with. It’s about building and enhancing this emotional connection with customers to make the in-store experience memorable and rewarding.
By Daniel Todaro, Managing Director at Gekko.
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