From innovations ranging from Amazon Go to shoppers’ heightened expectations influenced by online experiences, physical retailers are under immense pressure to deliver a great in-store experience to customers. In order to keep up, physical retailers must embrace more agile, dynamic and connected strategies.
To better understand customers’ shopping desires and preferences, Displaydata commissioned PlanetRetail RNG to carry out global research on how the in-store experience can be improved.
Enhancing Price in Real Time
Despite huge changes that retail has undergone in recent years, a fair and accurate price — consistent across channels — remains the key purchasing factor for the vast majority of shoppers. In the research, retailers confirmed that “improving pricing and promotional strategy” is their top strategic priority in 2018, as cited by nearly half of respondents. However, with current strategies and technologies in place, 65 percent of retailers are not able to implement all the price changes and promotions they want.
One solution to in-store pricing challenges is to adopt dynamic pricing. While it's sometimes assumed that consumers would reject this concept, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of consumers would welcome price changes throughout the day if a product is approaching its sell-by date. Yet, a quarter of retail respondents aren't convinced of customer acceptance if they were to change prices more frequently, highlighting a barrier to agile pricing that doesn’t exist in consumers’ minds.
Being that 84 percent of retailers agree the ability to price dynamically can help improve margins and store efficiencies, it’s clear that dynamic pricing can benefit retailers and customers alike. But first, retailers must adopt the right tools to enhance this experience.
Delivering With Digital Solutions
Shoppers are increasingly tech savvy. According to the research, over two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers think the technology deployed in-store improves their shopping experience and has some or a lot of influence over their choice of retailer. Additionally, the top three types of digital service that shoppers want in-store are free, secure public Wi-Fi (38 percent); promotions delivered direct to their mobile devices (33 percent); and electronic shelf labels (ESLs) to show accurate, real-time prices, promotions and detailed product information (31 percent).
Consider also that 42 percent of shoppers claim they recently had a poor in-store experience due to a lack of Wi-Fi, a lack of information at the shelf edge, and differences in product availability in-store and online. It's clear retailers need to focus more effort on turning the physical store into a digital environment for tech-savvy shoppers to meet their expectations around transparent pricing, promotions and availability, starting at the shelf edge.
The approach to price changes at the shelf edge — involving printed paper labels — has not evolved markedly in years. The research suggests that in today’s Internet of Things, always-on age, it's time to consider going digital. For example, ESLs allow retailers to better align prices across channels, ensure price accuracy, and free sales associates from pricing tasks to focus on customers. Additionally, much of the information to which consumers are accustomed when shopping online can be displayed in-store by using ESLs. This includes stock levels, social reviews, origin and source, and competitors’ prices — the latter being especially helpful in persuading shoppers to avoid the temptation to showroom.
Creating a digitally connected environment in-store gives retailers the opportunity to meet many evolving consumer expectations. As e-commerce sales continue to grow, moving the store from an analogue to digital environment will help retailers better blend their virtual and physical experiences and find new ways to ensure the store remains a fresh, engaging and rewarding place to visit.
Paul Milner is the marketing director at Displaydata, a provider of electronic shelf labels that enable retailers to quickly change prices, promotions and inventory data in seconds.