Retail has changed. Gone are the days of it merely boiling down to buying and selling. Now, being able to quickly adapt to change and utilising data-driven opportunities to drive success opportunities are essential.
Because of the current nature of the retail sector, there’s plenty that the traditional bricks and mortar retailers can learn and benefit from, thanks to their ecommerce retail counterparts. The two forces don’t need to work against each other; they are stronger together, both teams offer valuable aspects that contribute to the customer experience.
So, what exactly is it that bricks and mortar stores can take away from ecommerce that can be used to its advantage? Here are three big points to take on board:
Digital-based businesses are usually better at using data to stay ahead of trends, getting better-acquainted with their customers, as well as utilising data more efficiently. What’s more, digital-first retailers often use the data they obtain to stay on top of things like sending reminder emails about items in a cart that are ready to be purchased, relevant targeted ads while online, and sidebar recommendations based on your previous purchases or associated views. Clever stuff, but not exactly genius!
It’s a fact that a massive number of retailers struggle to take effective action on data. So, what can be done?
Data is only as good as the action it instigates. Bricks and mortar retailers should aim to follow ecommerce businesses in seeking occasions that can create relevant, useful, and personalised opportunities for in-store shoppers. Today’s shoppers want a seamless Omni channel experience, we know this, so retailers need to be on the ball with it. It can be something as elementary as equipping sales associates with helpful customer data when customers check out, so they can check up on the shopper’s latest purchase and make tailored recommendations. Essentially, bricks and mortar retailers should be looking at avenues for making the most of the data available to them so that they can deliver the personalised experience they enjoy through online shopping.
The three T’s
Tools, training, and transparency are the focal point here. Anticipating consumer demand is an ongoing factor for retailers. Another trend that waivers annually is forecasting. There are online companies who’ve solved this issue by setting up lean supply chains and integrating useful internal tools to help streamline demand processes, from consumers and corporate alike. These tools are vital as far as cross-departmental collaborating is concerned. It ensures that each team is united and moving the business forward.
Ecommerce holds a plethora of high-level analytics tools to assist in helping them to understand performance at every level. They are equipped with tools they need to meet the customer demand and drive company progression. Bricks and mortar stores, however, often have staff using pen and paper, spreadsheets, and bulky binders as a means of handling some of the essential areas of the business.
It’s those outdated tools that leave bricks and mortar staff with little more visibility than what’s available in the physical store.
Inventory is another notable area for inconsistency for retailers, and this prevents transparency from store to store. On the other hand, ecommerce stores, who are equipped with immediate front and back end transparency into their stock, win again. If bricks and mortar are going to learn and progress, it’s time to provide in-store staff with the same level of tools, training and transparency provided to ecommerce teams, to compete and succeed, against both their online and physical store counterparts.
Focus on strengths
Ecommerce retailers enjoy many benefits from digital, such as data collection capabilities being in-depth and immediate, expansive online inventories, not to mention intelligent advertising capabilities through a vast range of channels.
However, despite all these factors working in the ecommerce corners’ advantage to provide a better customer experience, it’s bricks and mortar stores that continue to be consumers’ preferred place to complete a purchase. There’s just something that you don’t get when you shop online.
For physical retailers, positive store performance often needs staff that are knowledgeable and convey a good attitude. Should the training be lacking, or their attitude be poor, the customer’s experience will be both lacking and poor too.
Bricks and mortar retail is certainly not struggling, in fact, with the latest point of sale software for retail, the potential to do more is ever-growing. Ask anyone, and the majority of the time you’ll get the same answer; people prefer traditional bricks and mortar stores over online shops. But, at the end of the day, for bricks and mortar retailers to stay relevant moving forward, it’s imperative that they work on improving the weak areas that ecommerce trumps them on.