Providing Your Customers Both Online and In-Store Shopping Experiences



in-store and online retail

Often, businesses focus their customer experience to either online or in-store shopping. These days, you can set yourself up for success by giving your customers the ability to get the products they want both at your brick-and-mortar facility and online.

The Advantages of On-Site and Online Shopping

Traditionally, shoppers have enjoyed the experience of seeing and touching a selection of products. Having that direct, personal experience is one of the best ways for an undecided customer to learn exactly what they want.

From a business perspective, interacting face-to-face with potential buyers provides you with the unparalleled ability to establish and cultivate a relationship that could prove to be both profitable and emotionally satisfying.

That being said, the so-called virtual buying experience has its upsides as well. Customers can peruse your website day or night, reading product reviews and looking for bargains at their leisure. Best of all, the items can be delivered right to their door in a matter of days, a convenience that many shoppers value.

From the merchant point of view, website analytics of online shopper behavior allow you to learn a great deal about your customers. The more you know, the better able you are to customize what you sell to meet the needs of the demographic you serve.

The Downsides

Every positive has its drawbacks, and shopping is no different. Taking the time to shop in-store can be impractical in today’s busy world. Worse still, customers can get to your store with a specific product in mind only to find that it isn’t currently in stock. Furthermore, long lines and difficulties during the checkout process can make people irritable and less inclined to come back.

Virtual shopping has its share of negatives as well. Potential buyers lose out on the personal touch. What’s more, they cannot see and touch a product before they buy it. It can also be inconvenient if items need to be returned.

The Evolution of Modern Retail

In recent years, online retail has begun to eclipse its brick-and-mortar counterparts. However, don’t look for physical stores to fade into oblivion. Instead, the path for true success involves integrating both online and in-store strategies to give customers all of the advantages of each method.

The omni-channel retailer of the future will give customers the personalization and convenience of the virtual experience in tandem with the face-to-face benefits of physical stores. How will this happen? A good deal of the solution lies in mobile technology. These days, even smaller retailers are jumping on the mobile app bandwagon. Doing so enables them to set up customer loyalty programs that entice and reward people for shopping in-store.

In addition, location-based technologies can be used to alert customers to sales and other promotions when they get physically close to your store. You can use the tools you have available through your POS gateway to learn what specific items your customer wants. When they are in close proximity to your location, you can send a customized message that invites them to come in and make the purchase.

New innovations are also making it much easier for customers to have the ease of online shopping married to the ability to see, feel and get what they want immediately. One of the most promising of these is digital light fixtures, which act as Bluetooth beacons and pair with the mapping technology and loyalty app in the customer’s phone. Thanks to this invention, potential buyers can be guided effortlessly right to the item they are looking for just as quickly as they would if they were conducting an online search – but with the added benefit of instant gratification. In addition, they have the ability to ask questions and possibly even augment their purchase with accessories. That’s a win-win for retailers and customers alike.

There is another benefit of modern in-store technology. It can actually track how long someone stands in front of a product display. In real time, the retailer can recognize that the customer may have questions and send an associate to assist them. If a patron wants help from you or one of your staff, they can also use their app to summon assistance, thus saving time and improving the overall shopping experience.

What You Can Do to Embrace Multi-Channel Retailing

Does it make sense that integrating your enterprise to incorporate the advantages of both online and in-store shopping is one of the smartest steps you can take to enhance sales and make your customers happy? If so, there are steps you can take today to begin your journey towards more effective sales.

  • Make sure your technology is up-to-date. That includes your POS system. Contact your service provider to ensure that your system allows you to do effective inventory and customer care management. If you have fallen behind the times, the moment to upgrade has arrived.
  • Make sure your website is easy to navigate and mobile-friendly. If that means contracting with a vendor, the work will probably pay for itself in short order. You can’t afford to miss out on customers’ increasing tendency to shop via their phones.
  • Consider adopting modern beacon technologies into your store. They will help to guide buyers to the products they want quickly and efficiently.

Modern technology has expanded horizons in a myriad of ways. For you as an entrepreneur, it can enable you to harness the power of multiple methods of shopping. By doing so, your customers will have a satisfyingly efficient buying experience while still being able to interact with you and your products. In the end, everyone wins.