An Omnichannel Truce Between Online and Physical Retail
The objectives of online and physical retail stores have run counter to each other for long enough. It's time to call a truce. The initial trigger for this tension was the emergence of "showrooming," behavior that retailers feared breaks the designed value of physical retail stores.
Showrooming is actually not the enemy for most retailers. A recent study showed that 88 percent of consumers had performed "webrooming" (i.e., researching a product online before coming to a store to buy it), compared to 76 percent who had showroomed. That's great news for retailers who are prepared to support educated consumers who are primed to purchase.
We're closing in on a new age of physical retail that's marked by the introduction of e-commerce technology on the sales floor. The prime messengers of this information are sales associates, who will transform from supporting the fulfilment of a purchase to delivering counsel that increases the value to shoppers of time spent in store.
Equipping sales associates with in-hand technology that boosts their ability to serve consumers has a few immediate benefits:
1. Turns associates into product experts: A number of studies show that consumers feel more educated about their intended purchase than the sales associate tasked to help them. Store managers and associates are aware of this information asymmetry and are, in some cases, using their personal mobile devices to close the gap in product knowledge.
In a recent study from Motorola Solutions, 58 percent of customers helped by a store associate using a mobile device had a better shopping experience. That success rate is encouraging for both the customer and sales associate, promoting more interaction and higher likelihood that customer questions are being answered.
After all, we've all been frustrated by unhelpful retail conversations that we would sooner avoid.