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3 ways retailers can provide online shoppers a better in-store experience

Todd Leach | Sep 5, 2019 Todd Leach 09/05/19

When you think of online shopping, odds are the first that comes to mind is Amazon. And while they’ve dominated the digital space for years, they also understand the importance of a customer’s brick-and-mortar experiences. Both online and traditional retailers are following suit.  

Forrester’s March 2019 report, “The New Paradigm of Retail,” details omnichannel services and the lengths that retailers would (and should) go to give customers a best-in-class experience, both in store and online. Our take on the report includes three key ideas for retailers to consider:  

  • Support online shopping, don’t fight it
  • Provide customers with the convenience they crave (while driving in-store traffic)
  • Pique interest with innovative in-store experiences  

As detailed in our report on cross-channel shopping, 73% of consumers use multiple channels during their shopping journey. Whether it’s through innovative technology or simply offering a more convenient experience, successful retailers are driving traffic to physical stores to complement their e-commerce business.    


Support online shopping, don’t fight it

Online retail grew from 1.4% of overall US retail sales in 2001 to 13.2% in 2017—and Forrester expects that number to increase to 21.3% by 2023. Long story short: e-commerce isn’t going anywhere. Instead of fighting the trend and failing, successful retailers have chosen to embrace it and support online shopping.

online-retail-stats

For example, Kohl’s announced an in-store return partnership with Amazon in July 2019. Shoppers can drop off all eligible items—no packaging or label required—at Kohl’s for free returns. This partnership removes the headache of online returns for customers (and Amazon) and increases traffic to the department store.

Offering a buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) option is another great way to give digital shoppers the flexibility and convenience they want. And with BOPIS sales projected to increase 55.6% in the next 5 years—growing to $9.5 billion by 2022—it’s a strategy that’s worth your time and investment.


Provide customers the convenience they crave (while driving in-store traffic)

Convenience is top-of-mind for today’s consumer, and many purchasing decisions are based on it. As mentioned earlier, returns and delivery are two of the biggest pain points of online shopping, and retailers are implementing unique partnerships to improve the experience for their customers.

Amazon looped in Rite Aid as a package pickup option for its buyers. The national drugstore chain joins the likes of Whole Foods, 7-Eleven, and other select retail locations that offer Amazon delivery services. FedEx has also partnered with Walgreens, where package drop-off and pickup are now available nationwide. 

Businesses with plenty of brick-and-mortar locations don’t need a newsworthy partnership to make their customers happy. Providing BOPIS and buy online, return in store (BORIS) options will initiate potential in-store revenue and grant customers a favorable, convenient experience. 


Pique interest with innovative in-store experiences

Amazon made headlines in early 2018 with the grand opening of the first Amazon Go convenience store. Customers walk in, grab what they need, and walk out—no human interaction required. There are no self-checkout kiosks either, as Amazon tracks what customers take past the turnstile and bills their Prime account automatically through a mobile app.

Innovation doesn’t always mean the newest technology and artificial intelligence. Sometimes it’s just rethinking the traditional in-store shopping experience.

Bonobos, an online menswear retailer, opened brick-and-mortar “guideshops” across the country. Customers schedule appointments to visit stores with a limited stock, try on the items for fit and preference, then a store associate—or guide, as they’re called—places the order, which will be shipped to buyers for free and arrive in one or two days. Returns and exchanges can all be done in-store, addressing another important factor in cross-channel shopping.


Retailers willing to adapt will see long-term success

Acclimating to the world of e-commerce, providing customers the convenience they desire, and finding innovative ways to stand out from the competition can help businesses not just survive, but thrive in the digital age. For more ways to improve your customers’ shopping experience, download the report: Integrate a seamless digital + in-store experience to drive cross-channel conversion.


Todd Leach | Chief Client Officer