Changes fire rapidly in today’s retail environment, and legacy retailers like J.C. Penney, Walmart and others are seeking innovative new ways to capture shopper attention. While e-commerce gains raise concerns that in-store experiences are obsolete, traditional retailers continually strike back and, ultimately, online sales make up only 10 percent of all retail sales.
However, traditional retailers should take heed: online shopping illustrates innovative experiences that capture consumer attention and provide inspiration in stores. Today, e-commerce platforms allow retailers to personalize shopping experiences, uncover data behind every decision, and move customers efficiently through the purchase path. While stores have struggled to do the same, location technology has helped make up the difference.
By leveraging location technology, retailers can create great customer experiences both in-store and online, ultimately delivering a holistic, harmonized shopping experience. Here are three steps to doing so:
1. Create personalized and immersive shopping journeys.
Building awareness of each shopper’s location empowers retailers to personalize and improve shopper journeys by:
- Offering a mobile store guide: Help consumers quickly find items in-store through search bars or by syncing with shopping lists. Sixty-seven percent leave the store empty-handed when they can’t find what they’re looking for. Offering search options or notifying shoppers of discounts or a price match via their smartphone can help drive in-store conversions.
- Providing a single shopping basket: Ensure that mobile search is linked to online browsing, and use this knowledge to provide insight when shoppers arrive at store locations. For example, if a shopper likes a sofa online, a retailer can message him that the sofa is available when he enters a store, and then direct him to the item.
- Allowing shoppers to request assistance: Offer shoppers the option to request assistance from an associate, and use location data to help direct staff members to shoppers.
- Delivering a VIP, hands-free shopping experience: Provide shoppers the luxury of not having to carry items around a store. Shoppers can buy items within an app and have them ready upon store exit.
- Providing an improved click-and-collect experience: Ensure shoppers have quick wait times for click and collect. Provide shoppers direction to where they can pick up items or have them delivered on-site.
2. Understand your customers.
Using location technology, retailers can uncover deeper insights into their customers and use them to optimize strategy by:
- Creating a single customer view: Combine accurate location data with CRM and point-of-sale data to understand how customers interact with your brand across channels. Understanding which items a customer searches for in particular aisles, how often they repeatedly visit, and how long they spend in specific areas are all possible and can be combined into a single, aggregated view of a shopper.
- Using predictive analytics to anticipate shopper behavior: Use deep location analytics combined with machine learning to predict shopper behavior and respond in kind. For example, if the probability of a shopper in a mall going to get coffee after visiting two retail shops is 70 percent, Starbucks could trigger a promotion that anticipates their need.
- Providing customer data to associates: Improve engagement with shoppers by providing store associates with insights such as purchase history, repeat visit insight, or even wish list items.
3. Improve the efficiency of in-store operations.
Retailers can improve in-store operations by providing associates with tools such as the following:
- Providing real-time store guides: Combine inventory with location data to help store associates search and find items to measure stock instantly. For example, inform an associate that there are three blue T-shirts left in-store in aisle B4, and direct them with mobile navigation.
- Triggering notifications if product stocks are low: Ensure real-time fulfillment of items in-store by notifying a store associate immediately if a product is low, helping them replace it. Sixty-six percent of shoppers have left a store when it didn’t have what they wanted, a problem that can be solved by ensuring products are accurately stocked.
- Providing store layout instructions: Connect inventory, layout and location technology to help store associates quickly turn over store layouts for busy shopping seasons.
- Improving checkout line wait time: Use location analytics such as heat maps to uncover wait time at checkout. Fifty-one percent of consumers have left a store when lines were too long. Store managers can use this information to call more employees to attend to another register.
The Future of Retail is a Holistic Experience
The future of retail is a holistic, omnichannel experience across channels. As shoppers increasingly get innovative experiences online, their in-store expectations rise. Using location technology, retailers can offer a great experience to shoppers no matter the channel, creating personalized and immersive journeys, uncovering deep analytics about shoppers, and improving the efficiency of in-store operations.
Marianne Slamich is head of marketing at Pointr, the leading location platform for “smart indoors.”