The world of retail is evolving. Will Amazon be responsible for making malls a thing of the distant past? Is shopping from home with a mobile device in hand the retail wave of the foreseeable future? According to industry experts at Shoptalk, neither seem to be the case. Here are some key takeaways from one of the largest retail and e-commerce conferences of the year.
1. Online and in-store shopping experiences should inform one another.
Erik Nordstrom said it loud and clear- the two are so intertwined that it would be impossible to imagine one without the other. He noted that a shopper may walk into a store and look at a product but then go home and buy it online. Or rather, the consumer might see a product online and go to the store to physically try it on and purchase in person. While Nordstrom mentioned that 30% of total sales come from online, its ecommerce arm cannot exist without its brick and mortar presence.
An avid shopper (to my detriment), I fit this consumer profile to a fault. I rarely buy online without PHYSICALLY seeing the product first. In my experience, whether I go into the store and then buy at home or browse online and then buy in-store, these two avenues are inherently linked.
2. Personalization is the key to meaningful mobile engagement.
Senior leaders at Macy’s noted that personalized mobile content is key to keeping consumers engaged. For Macy’s, the app user is the most important customer. If the product a consumer wants is out of stock or unavailable in their size, the retailer must ensure the shopper isn’t left empty-handed. What does this mean for brands? Serve consumers recommendations for similar products that meet their needs!
This happens to me all the time…and boy does it work! If I am looking for a certain style or item online, and the store doesn’t have it in my size, it is so helpful to see similar or related products. Online shopping can be very overwhelming, and consumers appreciate personalized options that suit their taste and price point. Personalization is a win-win for everyone involved – consumers get tailored shopping experiences and retailers drive sales and brand loyalty.
3. Great customer service, coupled with convenience, is a win for brands and shoppers.
With most purchases just a click away, consumers don’t want to feel inconvenienced or overcharged. So how can retailers improve the customer experience while still maintaining margins?
For starters, retailers that don’t offer free shipping should allow online shoppers to ship purchases to a store for free. Consumers will be able to pick up the item at their own convenience without having to pay unnecessary shipping fees. Secondly, if they are picking up the order in store, they might also want to try it on in person. If the consumer wants to return the product after said try-on, the retailer may be able to save the sale by presenting the consumer with other products or offers.
Just as I had hoped for- retail isn’t dead! While mobile may be another avenue to purchase, there is something to be said for walking into a brick and mortar store and interacting with a product firsthand.