Retail Needs An Experience Adjustment

November 8, 2016

Brick and mortar retail sales and foot traffic have steadily decreased over the last few years. While shaky consumer confidence and pulled-back spending has had an impact, all signs point toward online shopping as being the major reason for this downturn. Consumers simply cannot resist the convenience and savings that come from purchasing goods via the Internet. Will online shopping serve as the coffin nail for brick and mortar retail? Despite many pundits vigorously nodding their heads at this notion, there are many reasons to believe that in-store retail will continue into the foreseeable future – at least for the brands that adapt their in store experiences to reflect the continually changing landscape. Aside from the previously mentioned reasons consumers love online shopping, there are other facets that retailers could use as inspiration to pull shoppers back into their locations. Take the personalized experience that comes from shopping online. After a few clicks and products added to carts, websites get a pretty good understanding of what their visitors are interested in, and can react accordingly. Whether it’s tailoring the online experience to specific users’ needs, following up with remarketing campaigns and abandoned cart email discounts, these “gentle” reminders give shoppers incentive to pull the trigger on a purchase. Can retailers leverage this same personalized approach? Luxury retailers have been doing it for as long as they have existed. Knowing their customers’ names, their preferences and consistently exceeding their expectations have long been the hallmarks of the luxury shopping experience. Sure, their customers are shopping for – and spending on – higher priced goods and services, which helps justify the personalized approach. But why can’t every retailer take a chance to get to know his or her shoppers without being overly intrusive? Perhaps it’s as simple as bridging the online and in-store experience for consumers. We know that consumers are doing more research on products before purchasing, which means they are visiting multiple websites and comparing product features and prices well before making a purchase. Retailers could use their website as a driver to a retail location, after all, nothing makes a consumer more confident about their purchase than seeing, touching and experiencing a product first hand. It’s also worth mentioning the other parts of the online shopping experience that consumers love – hassle free returns, honest “peer” reviews, and judgment free purchasing. Some of these may be more difficult to implement in-store, but that shouldn’t stop retailers from attempting to get shoppers back inside their locations. The forecast for retail doesn’t look great, but with a few adjustments to the in-store experience, retailers can ensure that online retailing doesn’t completely take over the shopping world. Customers will always have a desire to experience products first-hand before purchasing. Now is the time to make the online and offline shopping experience complement each other.​

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