As e-commerce has exploded in popularity, the question of how brick-and-mortar retailers would fare in the future has been widely debated. The notion of a “retail apocalypse” reached a crescendo during the pandemic as year-over-year e-commerce grew two to five times faster in 2020. So, where do retailers go from here? When it comes to driving the best profits and winning customer experiences, the front-running approach, as it turns out, isn’t e-commerce only.
Omnichannel is Still the Best of Both Worlds
Harvard Business Review found that 73 percent of shoppers use both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce regularly. Rather than thinking about e-commerce eclipsing physical shopfronts, retailers have an opportunity to optimize their shopping mix through an omnichannel approach.
Omnichannel combines the magic of in-store experiences with the convenience and availability of online shopping. A Shopify survey found a mutual relationship between the two channels as 54 percent of participants said they're likely to look at a product online and buy in-store, while 53 percent are likely to look at a product in-store and buy online — a near even split. Both channels can operate as a showroom and provide unique value for consumers.
Combining brick-and-mortar with a digital strategy also enables retailers to promote inventory to customers anytime, anywhere and to meet them at every touchpoint of the buying process. This important integration of an online and in-store retail offering will also create stronger customer experiences and likely increase customer loyalty.
BOPIS is a Winning Integration Strategy
A prevalent omnichannel strategy is the buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) approach. This strategy bridges the gap between traditional brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels by providing the convenience of in-home shopping with the immediate availability of products at a nearby store. This approach enables customers to satisfy the tactile experience they enjoy, whether it's to see the size, quality or functionality of an appliance, or to try-on and feel clothing for fit and appearance. Consumers can then make a decision while they're in-store to keep, exchange or return the product and avoid the inconvenience and possible cost of shipping the item.
The Power of Location Intelligence in Boosting CX
When it comes to delivering the best retail experience in 2023 and beyond, offering customers a mix of online and in-store is key and will require the right technology to elevate customer experiences and drive growth for retailers.
Finding the perfect locations for stores and making them findable for customers requires rich intelligence. By leading with location data and intelligence, retailers have an opportunity to optimize both experiences and gather insights that help pinpoint high-traffic locations, determine where to place stores, and understand the existing locations that drive the most or least traffic.
For online shopping, ensuring that deliveries are precise and timely requires an optimized location platform that accounts for the delivery windows set and determines the best order of stops for each driver ... Likewise, a checkout experience without a robust data engine allowing autofill can lose customers due to lack of convenience, and in the process impact brand reputation and lead to cart abandonment. In fact, more than 50 percent of shoppers abandon their carts. Retailers can also enable in-receipt maps so that customers can quickly recognize where a transaction occurred or easily spot fraudulent purchases, decreasing payment disputes.
Brick-and-mortar retail is still alive and well, with the help of e-commerce. Using the right data and technology to make the online and offline shopping experiences seamless continues to be what customers crave.
Lukas Martinelli is the general manager of search and data services at Mapbox, the leading real-time location platform for a new generation of location-aware businesses.
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Lukas Martinelli works on creating location data to create excellent delivery and in-car experiences with our SDKs. I manage the Geodata data engineering team at Mapbox creating the building, point of interest, and addresses datasets from over 100+ data sources and serving the visual basemap to500M+ monthly users.