Brick & Mortar as we know is coming to an end. We’re in the middle of a resurgence. Yes, a resurgence of new retail, where impressing shoppers & creating shopper experience takes precedence for brands, products, distributors, retailers, and retail stores.
Prior to the eCommerce boom, CPG manufacturers and big-box retailers dictated the decisions in the market. But now, in 2019, as we enter into a new decade of innovation, that’s no longer the case. As shoppers have many options before them – with eCommerce right at the top of their list – every stakeholder of the brick & mortar trade should concentrate on creating an experience to retain customers.
Now Shoppers are the Kings, Every Stakeholder should Serve Them!
How is eCommerce winning shoppers’ hearts?
By providing them a convenience that they cannot say NO to. If we have to point out, let’s give an example of a shopper’s journey on an eCommerce platform such as Amazon:
A shopper has a need to purchase a product. Goes to the website/mobile app and looks through the product category. Browses through every product available. Compares the products based on specifications and pricing. Read through the reviews. Checks with other online vendors for better pricing or benefits. Makes the best choice for his/her well-being Orders the product. Get’s the product delivered to the doorstep. Note: They can do all of this while sitting on their couch or lying down in their bathtub.
Where is eCommerce losing in shopper experience?
There is no physical interaction. Period.
Let’s get real. We’re human beings. We trust objects that we can sense and feel. While there are many customer success stories, there are also stories where the product delivery was not good, the customer was unhappy, had to go through a long process for refund/exchange and much more.
From personal experience, let me give you an example. I recently bought a Realme mobile phone for my wife from an online vendor. However, before I bought the phone online, I consulted with my friends and I went into a nearby electronics store and checked it’s functionality. I felt it’s operations with my hands and then confirmed that it was a good choice. At the same time, if the price was as affordable as an online vendor, I would have bought it at that store. But it did not happen.
Brick & Mortar should realize it’s strengths and weaknesses while adapting 5 essential shopper experience habits.
Habit 1: Entice your shoppers’ senses with an experience
In Bengaluru, one of the best stores to be at is the OnePlus experience store on Brigade Road. People can walk in and experience their premium products with very minimal intervention from the staff. Ideally, most people buy their products online as OnePlus offers great discounts.
In recent news, Flipkart – the eCommerce giant acquired by Walmart – has opened a 1,800 square feet experience center, so shoppers can visit and feel their furniture. It’s part of their ‘FurniSure’ initiative
Both of these companies are huge online vendors. Yet these stores show the importance of converting your stores into experience centers where shoppers can feel the products and then make the decision.
Bridge the Gap for Better Experience
It is important for every physical store to have an online presence and every online vendor to a physical presence. Many solutions are now available in the market to help medium to small stores accept online payments from consumers and deliver the products at home, while they maintain their stores as experience centers.
To state an example one such solution, across every city in metropolitan India, we now have digital payments such as PayTM, AmazonPay, PhonePe, and GooglePay. It has made shoppers’ lives easier. This is a gateway to an enhanced execution and collaboration with online giants is in the making at this moment.
It is also important to spend on store planograms and better display for an enhanced experience.
Habit 2: Make payments easier & effective
Speaking about payments, Kirana stores have had the secret formula to best shopper experience for decades. Their credit system, where they let customers buy for an entire month and then pay at the end of the month, has won the trust of many customers across the Indian subcontinent. So much so that families buy from the same store for various years and still continue.
While this system has its own challenges, the traditional traders are getting smarter by implementing progressive solutions such as KhathaBook. What if we can bring this system to medium and major retailers? Is it possible?
After Payments are possible for a better experience
For example, AfterPay is one of the best solutions of that nature which has already collaborated with multiple retailers, both physical & online. It not only provides convenience but also a trust which will last for a long time. This is one of the best ways to retain your customers.
Payments = Money, Money = Comfort, so make your customers’ payments comfortable.
Habit 3: Customer service
Since the dawn of information technology, retail corporates have invested millions in establishing effective customer service departments. However, with the increase in mobile technology, customer service has become much easier and accessible.
From in-store support to chatbots, retailers need to invest in multiple ways to assist their customers in establishing lasting relationships.
100 good experiences will be wiped away with 1 bad experience
One bad incident is enough for a customer to dump your service/product and choose your competitor. Will the customer stay quiet from that one incident? No, they will spread the word to multiple people from family to friends. And what if they take it digital and start leaving reviews?
You can lose a lot of business overnight. That’s why you need to employ and educate staff that behaves in the most receptive way possible. Even if they don’t buy a product, they will definitely spread the word about the experience, thereby increasing your potential customers.
Habit 4: Evaluate the shopper experience
Shopper experience evaluation has never been more important than now. How would you know if your shopper has really enjoyed the experience?
You can choose the traditional mystery shopping methods or you can use the latest methods which involve asking the shoppers how they felt.
Utilize quick surveying tools to understand shopper experience
Ask them the right questions to get the right answers. The more answers you get, the more opportunities you will find to improve your store and thereby shopper journey.
Habit 5: Adapt technology to improve the experience
This habit should be obvious! Look, we’re entering a new phase of retail. If you’re slow to include technology in your everyday operations, you will face loses or even closure. In the last decade, some of the biggest retailers the world has known have taken an unprecedented hit, with some shutting down permanently.
A great example of one such company is Kodak. Kodak was once the dominant emperor in the photography industry. Since their start in 1888 until the 1990s, nobody would take on Kodak face to face. Because they knew they would lose.
But then came the digital era. Digital cameras, camcorders, and many others came to existence. Yet, Kodak did not pay heed to these new ventures and was lethargic in adapting. And what was the result? – In 2012, they filed for bankruptcy.
Do not be lethargic in adapting technology, unless you are willing to go bankrupt.
When it comes to retail and retail execution for physical stores, there are many capable solutions. Some of which are mentioned in the post and many can be found if you research based on your need. Find the best solution for your retail store, brand, product or distribution today and enhance your business.