How will Personalization Change Brick-and-Mortar Retail?
From your daily needs and groceries to high fashion clothing and cars, almost everything is available online. So, why do customers still enjoy shopping at a brick and mortar store? It isn’t really for the selection- it’s for the experience. For brick and mortar stores to maintain their relevance, these stores need to focus on superior customer experiences.
The future of retail lies in blending online and offline experiences with a personalized touch. According to a study, retail outlets can increase revenues by 5–15% by offering personalized services. The retailer’s smartphone app can play a large role in personalizing and improving a customer’s in-store experiences. Here’s how.
Better Insights Into Customer’s Interests
Personalization doesn’t stop at knowing a customer’s name. To improve a customer’s shopping experience, a store needs to be able to show him/her products that are relevant to his/her interests. This becomes easier when a salesperson can see the customer’s shopping patterns. If the customer has been browsing through formal shirts on the e-store and has a few in his cart, then that’s what he needs to be shown. If he’s been looking for a blue shirt online, the retail outlet has a higher chance of converting a sale by showing him a blue shirt rather than a black one.
Let’s say there’s a wedding coming up in your family and you’ve been looking for the perfect outfit. What we tend to do is click on ‘add to cart’ for any dress that we like. Let’s say, you happen to pass by the store selling these dresses. Your smartphone app can remind you that you’d shortlisted pieces from this store. It may even be able to tell you which of those dresses are in stock at that particular outlet. As a customer, wouldn’t you be encouraged to walk into the store and try on the dresses? This gives customers a more satisfactory shopping experience while better sales for the retailer.
Similarly, when browsing through the store’s online collection, products available at the customer’s neighborhood store may be promoted to encourage a visit to the store.
Time has become even more valuable than before. Instead of window-shopping at the store, customers prefer to browse through a retailer’s product range online or on the app. But when it comes to the actual purchasing, they may still want to see the piece, feel it and try it on before buying it. Would you buy a pair of running shoes without seeing how they fit your feet?
The trouble is that in typical stores, the customer will have to get a salesman’s attention, ask for that particular shoe and then wait for him to find it in the store before trying it on. Technology cans peed up this process. It allows customers to reserve products in their sizes at the store’s local branch through an app. At the store, they won’t have to wait for the product to be found since it’ll already be kept aside for them. Seems too far away in the future- Nike is already adopting this strategy in their NYC flagship store!
Personalization plays a big part in encouraging repeat purchases and building customer loyalty. Wouldn’t you want to shop at a place where the sale people know your preferences, size, and tastes? By merging a customer’s online and offline shopping pattern, retailers can build a more complete customer profile. This means that the next time you walk into a store you’ve shopped at before the salesperson will know your size and be able to show you outfits in that size.
When a store offers this level of personalization, customers are not likely to shop at competing brands because they would have to go through the entire exercise of explaining what they wanted, their tastes, the size they need, etc. all over again.
A Final Word
For brick and mortar stores, it is very important to remember that customers no longer NEED to walk into the store to make a purchase. To stay relevant the store must make the customer WANT to walk in. Customers are most likely to patronize stores that offer good retail experiences and personalized services. Hence, this something that cannot be ignored.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, personalized services can help retail outlets increase their revenue 2–3 times faster than their competitors who do not offer personalized service. The stakes are high and for retailers that don’t want to be left behind, personalization is the need of the hour.
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