Top 4 Roadblocks to In-Store Conversion

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Jul 14 2016, Posted by Lisa Cramer

It’s the weather… low foot traffic… the location… Blaming poor store performance on these kinds of variants seems to be a consistent trend among retailers. Similarly, explaining away poor retailer sales to the likes of: it’s the retailer, placement in-store, demographics of the area seems to be pretty common among brands.

But, here’s the thing. Yes, these factors can in fact contribute to performance variations. However, as a retailer, how do you know that that’s really the problem and not something more serious that you need to address? How can you properly rationalize SKUs, optimize sales per square foot, keep your stores relevant and away from growing store closing ranks? And, as a brand, how do you continue to grow store sales, justify keeping shelf space to your retailer partners or even sell-in more programs? How do you roll out more displays for millions of dollars, without figuring out where your issues are to ensure a ROI?

Today most retailers and brands inside these stores (it’s not just retailers!) aren’t doing a good job of understanding and resolving why their in-store shoppers aren’t converting.

What are some of the reasons in-store shoppers don’t typically convert? We’ve identified 4 main roadblocks to in-store conversion:

  • Limited Engagement Opportunities



Several studies, like this one from POPAI, show that the more time/engagement a shopper has with a brand, the more they purchase. However, this study also found that when shoppers enter a retail store, they only see 12% of the displays. So, as a brand, there’s very limited opportunity to even be seen and therefore, added pressure to make sure that in-store investments are relevant to shoppers so that those that do see you, do engage.

    1. “Unseamless” Path to Purchase


Shoppers now have over 800 possible paths to purchase available to them (Cisco). They’re mixing and matching digital and physical channels as they see fit and they expect this journey to be seamless. This landscape definitely adds complexity for retailers and brands as shoppers are becoming increasing difficult to influence, track and serve. However, failure to address this issue isn’t quickly forgiven by shoppers—only 27% stated that they would give a retail store a second chance after a poor experience and only 15% said they would give a brand a second chance after a poor experience.

    1. Failure to Meet Needs/Expectations


According to Google, 2 in 3 shoppers who tried to find information within a store say they didn’t find what they needed, and 43% of them left frustrated. Clearly, the in-store experience is not where it needs to be.

    1. Unhelpful Sales Associates


To clarify, we’re not talking about poor customer service here—that’s a whole other issue in itself. Instead, here we’re talking about the sales associate not delivering any real value to the shopper. According to a recent InReality study, 46% of shoppers stated that they usually know more than the sales associate and only 8% noted that they felt sales associates are typically extremely important in making a purchase decision.

So, as a brand or a retailer, how can you overcome in-store conversion problems?

  • Understand What Your Specific Shoppers Want & Why in Real-Time



      • Understand what your specific shoppers are doing along their path to purchase. It’s best not to rely on only market data and on focus groups. Work to get insights from shoppers while they’re in their path to purchase, not after. Recall can kill good research.
      • Gain insights on what shoppers are doing in-store. This isn’t about anecdotes that your sales associates and managers are sharing, this is imperative data. Utilize analytics (video sensors, WiFi, beacons, etc.) to really see what your shoppers are doing in-store. Are they going to a certain area, are they paying attention to or completely ignoring a certain display, etc.? Specifically, make sure you’re understanding how well your converting and focus on how to improve it. It’s not easy to do and although some retailers believe with technology such as door counters, they understand shopper conversion, viewing shopper behavior would suggest that more detailed in-store data (department level, aisle, product) is necessary to really understand the roadblocks/problems and provide the right solution.
      • Give shoppers what they are asking for… it’s not about you, sorry to say. But it’s time for brands and retailers to stop thinking inside out. It’s even time to stop seeing what the market is doing. Find out from your shoppers, while they are in the midst of looking to purchase your product/go to your type of retail store.

    1. Integrate Technology Where it Makes Sense


      • Most retailers agree (66%) that their results will continue to erode unless they find a way to incorporate technology as part of their store experience (Forrester).
      • Get shoppers to engage and spend more time with your products/categories/stores. Useful and well-integrated digital is a great way to do this. Digital displays with targeted, compelling content can also help brands attract shoppers and drive engagement. Interactive kiosks can help retailers better guide shoppers and upsell product.
        • According to Deloitte, people who use digital while they shop in-store convert at a 20% higher rate compared to those who do not use digital as part of the shopping process.
        • 69% of shoppers would be more likely to buy in-store if given self-help tools like kiosks or digital displays
      • Integrate technology to both identify and test what’s working and what’s not. Then use digital to help educate and engage the shopper.

    1. Stop Relying on an Assisted Sale!


    • Okay, this is not to insinuate that having sales associates in the sales process is all wrong. But, sales associates need to know more and they need to be involved in the sale AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME—when the shopper is ready. It’s not about when you think it’s best. If you don’t have a way of explaining a product via self-guided messaging, digital, something, then you are doing yourself an incredible disservice, especially when it comes to millennials.
    • Shoppers are walking into your stores and shopping for your brand after doing a bunch of research online. They know a lot more than you think. They are further down the buy cycle than they used to be. Understand that, more importantly make sure your sales associates understand and respect that.

Retail is missing what shoppers are asking for. And, it’s not online. In today’s constantly changing, digitally charged world, brick-and-mortar will have to do more. For starters, getting smarter about the basics—understanding and optimizing in-store conversion. Otherwise, it’s not a question of whether or not ecommerce will take over retail, it’s a question of whether retailers and brands will force their own doors shut, as they continue driving with their blinders on.

Image Copyright: Maciej Bledowski / iStock

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