The Omnichannel Strategy for Brick-and-Mortar stores
Brick-and-mortar retail experienced a decline in the last decade, with a record 7,500 stores closing in 2017 and billions of dollars in global sales at the peak of the pandemic. The rise of e-commerce retailers, such as Amazon, is seen as the main driving force behind these losses for brick-and-mortar retailers.
The good news however is that brick-and-mortar retail is gradually recovering. The US Department of Commerce Retail Indicator Division released the December 2021 Monthly Retail Trade Report on Wednesday, February 16th, providing a comprehensive picture of 2021. For the first time, physical stores grew faster than e-commerce, with physical stores growing at 18.5 percent versus 14.2 percent for e-commerce. That 14.2 percent growth rate is slightly higher than the average annual growth rate and brick and mortar stores are wondering what additional value they can offer to sustain their recovery and start recording substantial growth.
The solution is to bridge the gap between offline and online retail by implementing an omnichannel strategy. Omnichannel provides a consistent user experience across multiple channels or endpoints, ensuring that everything from SMS to online web stores is in sync. This can have a futuristic feel, especially when combined with hyper-personalization, which incorporates elements such as AI and automation.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Brick-And-Mortar Retail
It's easy to believe that brick-and-mortar retail is losing ground to digital, but this may not be the case. Indeed, many large online-only brands have begun to pursue physical retail aggressively. The Metaverse now has a physical store. Here are some benefits of brick and mortar retail that cannot be replicated online:
- The "feel, touch and try a product" experience: There's a reason why large brands are emphasizing the use of Augmented Reality to simulate seeing a product in person. The ability to "feel, touch, and test a product" is still the most appealing aspect of in-store shopping for 59 percent of buyers.
- Discoverability: Walking through a store exposes you to products you have never seen before, ones you may not have even considered the shop sells. Online stores tend to be quite narrowly focused, with even suggestions offering variations of products the customer is already looking for. The shop floor, on the other hand, generates a lot more interest.
- Instant Purchase: Customers rank the ability to pick up an item and own it minutes later as the second most appealing aspect of physical retail, after seeing it in person. Unlike the online shopping experience that requires a waiting period before customers can receive the product in person.
- The human element: Interaction with staff and other customers, however brief, adds to the whole experience. Community is an aspect of business that is badly lacking in online retail. Although this human engagement pays off, a third of consumers still distrust businesses with simply an online presence.
- Delivery: Speaking of delivery, while it may not be the default method for brick-and-mortar retail, many global brands, such as Ikea, are expanding the storage of chain locations, resulting in faster delivery than many online retailers. Walmart took advantage of this by launching two-hour home delivery in 2020.
What is lacking in brick-and-mortar retail.
While brick-and-mortar stores still have a lot to offer, there are some distinct advantages to shopping online lacking in traditional stores:
- History: One of the most significant issues with in-person retail is that you are effectively a stranger every time you enter a store. No one pays attention to previous purchases to determine little things like the brand, nothing responds to your preferences or tailors the store experience to you.
- Customer Loyalty Programs: When you visit a store on a regular basis, the disconnect becomes even more pronounced. You may have discovered where your favorite items are located when items are on sale, and which self-checkout is always broken, but the store has no information about you. A good loyalty program can help address this imbalance, but even storing information like shipping addresses, payment details, and wishlists online is far more intuitive.
- Product detail: In-person shopping can only provide so much information about a product before becoming cumbersome. You may be able to see it in person, but there isn't always much else to go on. It is possible to contact store personnel, but they are often so busy that they cannot provide detailed advice. Customers are now so accustomed to the more informed shopping experience that 80 percent of people use their mobile phones inside stores to look up product reviews and compare prices.
- Individualized Customer Service: With increasing demands on in-store employees of all sizes, it's becoming increasingly difficult to get a question answered in person. Customers are frequently required to use a secondary channel for support, either online or on their phones. Online retail has a lot more flexibility, which is aided by chatbots.
- Availability around the clock: As flawed as it is, the proposition of buying something at a store that never closes without ever leaving your house is difficult to beat. It's the primary reason its popularity skyrocketed in 2020.
- Flexibility: Online retailers can afford to let you pre-order an unreleased or out-of-stock item and ship it to you as soon as it arrives. They are never closed. They frequently allow you to choose your own delivery time and date, though usually for a fee. Logistically, this is rare for most physical retail.
Blending omnichannel(The Global Corner shop) and brick-and-mortar: the best of both worlds
Omnichannel does not always mean everything at all times. Although convenience and features can be replicated and improved across multiple channels, this does not apply to messaging. It's all about determining what's appropriate.
This is another critical aspect of customer consideration. Just as there are some things you don't want to learn about via text, even if it's more convenient than calling or some information and vernacular that aren't appropriate for every situation.
Similarly, just because a customer is accessible through every channel does not mean they should be inundated with messages. Successful omnichannel integration should strive to provide customers with the same level of respect and consideration that they would receive at a local store where they know the owners.
Here are a few examples of combining the best of both worlds by using omnichannel to bridge the gap between online and offline retail:
- The "feel, touch and try a product" experience & Product detail: As previously stated, some companies, such as Kohl's, have invested significantly in digitally recreating the in-store experience of seeing what an item would look like in real life, with the added benefit of the readily available online context. A similar opportunity exists for adding context to the in-store experience of viewing a product. A customer could scan a product and instantly see how many are in stock, how other customers have rated the item, and even specially-tailored suggested pairings with other products. The vast majority of customers look at their phones while shopping in a store; regaining control of that context will make a brand far less vulnerable to comparison shopping. In-app promotions that are only redeemable in-store would be prohibited. This is a fantastic way to encourage customers in this direction.
- The human element & Individualized Customer Service: A consistent omnichannel strategy would provide in-store employees with instant access to a customer's purchase and support history. Appointments could be scheduled automatically ahead of time. In-person support staff could be given the authority to offer personalized discounts to compensate for problems that customers encounter. Customers could even conduct a preliminary support check with a chatbot beforehand to cut to the chase and get the critical, in-person service they require.
- Customer Loyalty Programs & Discoverability: Knowing what's in stock ahead of time, having your order ready for pick-up, and making substitutions as needed combine the best of both worlds. When a customer has their core order organized ahead of time, even set to recur on a regular basis, but walks through the store to collect it, they can browse without stress.
- Availability round the clock & Instant purchase: Knowing what's in stock ahead of time, having your order ready for pick-up, and making substitutions if necessary combine the best of both worlds. When a customer has their core order organized ahead of time, even set to recur on a regular schedule, but walks through the store to collect it, they can browse stress-free.
- Delivery & Flexibility: Because of the location advantage of brick-and-mortar chains, delivery and distribution can happen much faster than using a third-party service. Shopping online allows you to see what's in stock, buy whenever you want, and even schedule delivery. When you combine this with in-store pickup and a record of your preferred address, delivery options, and delivery time, you have a powerful combination of both value propositions.
Chargezen’s Omnichannel Feature
Despite common opinion, not every merchant sells online, not every physical store is losing customers to online businesses, and not every brick-and-mortar company is considering e-commerce. Some businesses just care about converting walk-in clients into repeat customers and generating recurring revenue. That's where Chargezen comes in!
Chargezen's omnichannel engagement platform acts as a centralized inbox, allowing you to interact with customers across multiple channels from a single dashboard. This makes it simple to interact with your customers and improve customer experience.
All your customers require is a personal touch; with Chargezen's omnichannel feature, you can also notify loyal customers about flash sales or special offers, collect reviews, and award loyalty points.
Confidently plan for the future of your business with reports from Chargezen's Omnichannel platform enhanced analytics suite. Receive cash payments when you're offline or accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other major payments from your local store, to complete transactions anywhere in the world.
Looking to bridge the gap between online stores and your brick and mortar store? Check out how Chargezen can help your brick and mortar store or contact the customer success at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
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