Combining In-store and Online for a Unified Retail Experience

Since e-commerce sites have exploded onto to the retail scene, they have gained an incredible amount of traction. Online retailers such as Amazon and Zappos have been so popular that in the past few years, they have posed a serious threat to the success of brick-and-mortar locations.

It’s true, many customers today are skipping their trip to local stores and buying their everyday items online. Perhaps this is because of the convenience, but another major differentiator for online retailers is the generally superior customer experience. In fact, InMoment’s recent Retail Trends Report stated that online-exclusive retailers boast the highest customer satisfaction score of 54%.

These numbers can definitely be intimidating, but should traditional retailers run for the hills or keep looking for ways to compete with these online giants? Luckily, there is another option: complement, don’t compete.

One of the key factors of a great customer experience is making sure customers have a unified experience with your brand. Normally we think about unification in the context of the buying process, making sure that the experience is consistent from greeting to check out, but this is also relevant when it comes to where your customers shop.

Whether they’re walking through the front door or opening up your home page, a customer should have a clear idea of who you are as a retailer. This means that it should be as easy for them to make a purchase in store as it is online.

With this philosophy in mind, I would argue that the introduction of online retailers has been good for brick-and-mortar locations in that it has inspired them to step up to the CX plate and thus, better their business. In fact, a recent study saw that in 2017, there were more new store openings than closings, and that store openings will likely exceed closures through 2021.

It’s clear from these numbers that physical locations aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so it is more important that brands learn to unify their in-store and online experience so they complement one another.

Amazon is doing this exceptionally well. The brand is typically known as an online-only retailer that provides enviable customer experience and convenience, but this week, they will be making a major change. The retailer is opening their first brick-and-mortar location, Amazon Go, where shoppers can pick up ready-to-go meals, groceries, and chef-made meal kits. The best part? No check out. Simply open the app on your phone, pick up your items, and walk out the front door.

In opening a storefront, Amazon may be making a major change, but they are keeping their customer experience consistent; it still offers the convenience that the company is famous for (such as no lines, for example), but they aren’t sacrificing personable customer experience either: Amazon Go will be staffed with knowledgeable employees who can help customers and suggest new items.

There are many other great examples of how in-store and online experiences can complement one another to further brand success. This forward-thinking attitude can make the difference between providing an experience that is merely mediocre and one that is truly optimized for long-term loyalty.

To keep up with the latest CX developments and trends, check out InMoment’s 2017 Retail Trends Report!

About Author

Brock Stuart Customer Success Manager

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