Given the accelerating pace of technology innovation, consumers have more purchasing options than ever before — in-store, online, mobile, overnight shipping and ship-from-store, to name a few. And with these options, retailers are facing new challenges each day.
One major challenge is maintaining in-store foot traffic in an omni-channel marketplace. Many consumers are skipping a trip to the store and turning, instead, to their smartphones and tablets. In turn, retailers are being forced to devise more creative strategies to get customers in the door.
So, how can retailers increase in-store foot traffic in an age of avid online shopping?
It’s all about convenience.
If you’re a retailer, spend a day in the shoes of a customer. Would you rather sort through racks of clothing looking for the right color, size and style, or simply enter your desired product descriptors into an online search bar and have exact results in less than a minute?
When it comes to brick and mortar, retailers must provide the same seamless shopping journey that customers have grown accustomed to experiencing online. This means you need to make it easy for them to find the products they want. Some enterprising retailers have implemented creative merchandising strategies to meet shifting demands. Charming Charlie, for instance, now shelves products by color to improve customer convenience.
Other forward-thinking retailers are leveraging technology to connect online and offline shopping. Retail giant Macy’s, for example, has added life-sized digital displays with interactive touch-screens to its stores, allowing customers to find the products they want more quickly and easily. These displays seamlessly integrate with mobile shopping experiences that include in-store maps and special promotions.
Smaller stores, such as Hointer in Seattle, are also taking steps to combine the convenience of online shopping with the experience of shopping in store. The Hointer beta store makes it easy for men to shop with the help of their smartphones. Hointer displays one of each item, rather than piles of different colors and sizes. Shoppers can scan the item on their smartphone, select a size and color and find the item waiting for them at a dressing room in less than a minute. If they don’t like the item, it is removed from their online shopping cart. Oh, and there’s no need for checkout. The customer keeps the items they want and checkout is completed through an app upon exiting the store.
But don’t forget the experience.
While convenience is a major factor in increasing foot traffic, retailers shouldn’t forget about the timeless benefits of the in-store experience.
Consumers still have a decided preference for physically engaging with products and like to get assistance from sales associates. In fact, 61% of consumers still value asking sales associates for information, and 69% expect sales associates to be armed with a mobile device (Forrester). Equipping associates with mobile devices not only allows them to stay up-to-date on product information, but also enables them to offer promotions, view real-time inventory visibility and ring up sales without need of a cash register, culminating in a seamless customer experience.
In order to keep today’s technology savvy customers coming back for more in store, the key is to make the journey more enjoyable and convenient.