Future Retail: 3 Ways Stores Can Close the Gap in 2018
We all know retail has changed. Consumers today have an endless supply of options. And, most are engaging with a host of convenient online stores that provide instant results. In-store experiences are typically not comparatively convenient or instant, and often fall short of meeting consumer expectations.
So, what’s the solution? Obviously there are many options out there, but the question is where should retailers and brands really be focusing their efforts right now?
Here are the top 3 ways stores can close the gap this year:
- Measuring the In-Store Funnel
Here’s the thing… If we accept that retail has changed, then shouldn’t we consider that maybe how we measure retail should change too, in particular the retail store? With, more and more shopping journeys happening cross-channel, do the metrics we rely on today even give us the answers we need anymore?
For years stores have largely relied on door counts and comparable sales as the key measures of store success, but today as consumers continue to visit stores less frequently, optimizing conversion on every visit and maximizing every transaction size is key. The question becomes: do you know what drove that consumer to make that purchase? And, do you know how to replicate that sale again? To optimize these smaller numbers of store traffic, we now need to know not how many consumers come in the door, but who walks by a product or category, of those that walk by who glances at the product, what gets them to stop, how many engage with a display and of those, who purchases.
While these kinds of metrics have long been unavailable in brick-and-mortar, new advances in in-store analytics technologies are unlocking the in-store funnel for brands and retailers. The sales funnel is a widely used framework for B2B sales. And, for retail, the meaning is quite analogous—it’s an opportunity to anonymously analyze shopper conversion along in-store points of influence (eg. merchandisers, displays, store layout, etc.) to optimize store experiences and better predict and drive sales. In fact, a study by Google gives us a better view of the opportunity here, finding that: above-average performers in using customer data and analytics outpace competitors by 2-3x on sales, margins and profits.
- Experiences that Respond Instantly
According to Gartner, by 2020 a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with a company without interacting with a human. Seasoned by online shopping and digital tech conveniences, empowered shoppers are increasingly expecting to lead their own journeys and they want experiences that are instant and “similar” to the convenience they’re experiencing online.
Mobile, self-help kiosks and even location-targeting through beacons immediately come to mind as possible solutions. But, there’s an even simpler solution here that doesn’t require an invasion of the shopper’s mobile device (downloading apps, beacons) and offers a more advanced personalization engine, that many brands and retailers don’t know about: responsive technology.
According to Gartner, by 2018, companies who excel in personalization will outsell their competitors by over 20%. But, personalization doesn’t mean you have to know exactly who that shopper is. After all, most of our in-store shoppers are “unknown”. Using analytics data and responsive technology we can personalize in-store engagements in real-time to each consumer and what is relevant to them based on their demographic profiles, shopping behavior, and more.
- More Empowered Front-Liners
According to a recent InReality study, 46% of shoppers stated that they usually know more than the sales associate. In today’s world where most answers are literally at our fingertips, it’s no wonder the sales associate isn’t as effective as they used to be.
Using responsive technology, previously discussed, brands and retailers can deliver relevant information not just to the consumer, but also to the sales associate or front-line employee. For example, imagine a sales associate using their phones or tablets that can be pinged when a consumer has spent a long time around a specific area or product and so it might be a good time to approach them. With details about that specific product already at their fingertips, the sales associate would already be prepared to offer that consumer a more personalized shopping experience. Or perhaps, imagine a consumer has checked out three different kitchen remodeling products. the associate could get a ping with information about the consumer’s in-store journey, along with a suggestion that they appear interested in a kitchen remodel. These are just a few basic examples, but there are some very exciting things that can be done here.
What are some other things you think stores will focus on this year?
If you’d like to learn more about the driving technologies mentioned here, like in-store analytics and responsive technology, click here.
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