Shoppers who prefer the tactile experience of in-store browsing can relax; online stores aren’t slated to overtake in-person stores anytime soon.
Sure, online sales are growing faster than in-person sales for many retailers. But 92 percent of all purchases are still made offline, and forward-thinking companies are combining online and offline offerings to reap the benefits of both worlds and improve shopper experiences. As such, many online brands have since established physical store presences to supplement their digital personas.
“Digitally influenced physical stores sales are far greater than all of e-commerce,” notes Steve Dennis in Forbes. “A retail brand's strong digital presence drives brick and mortar sales, and vice versa. Too often, traditional retailers treat digital and physical retail as two distinct entities when most customers are, as some like to say, ‘phygital.’”
Many analysts recommend traditional retailers take a page from Amazon Go’s playbook and transfer online conveniences to physical stores. For instance, the hybrid Amazon stores use credit card records, smartphone apps, cameras and sensors to track what shoppers select from shelves then charge them as they exit, eliminating the need for human cashiers.
Brands can encourage shoppers to use their smartphones to explore in-store product information online for increased data collection. Google research found 71 percent of shoppers rely on their smartphones for information while in-store. Ultimately, the key is keeping track of who individual customers are across in-store and online touch points to fully understand shopping behavior.
One tool that allows brands to do this is DataSwitch. If, for example, a customer uses your store's Wi-Fi to find out more information on your products, then researches further when they're at home, DataSwitch uses audience ID tracking to track that customer's behavior no matter where they interacted with your brand.
Other hybrid examples include Everlane and the Casper Sleep Shop, both of which encourage shoppers to interact with their products in attractive showroom settings before ordering their selections online. Those concepts make sense in light of Google research indicating two of three shoppers have struggled to find product information while shopping in stores and 43 percent have left frustrated as a result.
Some other ways brick-and-mortar retailers are optimizing data to remain competitive:
- Analyzing shoppers’ online and offline behavior to determine how much time they spend per store, how often they return, what they look at, what they put in their carts then remove, how they mix online and offline purchases, how they pay, etc.
- Building better shopping experiences that cross the divide between online and offline stores. “It’s critical that traditional retailers remember that purchases aren’t a one-time interaction—they should be engaging with and reaching shoppers throughout their entire experience” advises Cassandra Girard in Adweek.
- Using the immediacy and visual impact of brick-and-mortar stores to generate enthusiasm for online purchases. “Their openings are heavily marketed with influencers, events, strategic content and promotions,” notes Kyle Wong in Adweek.