While online shopping is very popular, physical stores aren’t quite dead yet. According to Kees de Vos, chief customer officer at Hybris, retailers can combine both online and brick-and-mortar retail in innovative ways in the “omnichannel” era.
“Marketers are increasingly aware that with everyone’s increasingly busy lives shopping can be seen as a chore. Customers can research online faster than they can walk or drive from store to store. Online reviews and price comparisons also enable customers to feel more confident in their buying decisions, there is more free shipping available and returns are becoming easier,” he wrote for Marketing magazine.
Retailers will have to focus on brand value rather than just fixating on retail stores. And more stores are combining online with physical retail to do just that. For example, retailers are letting customers buy items online and pick them up in nearby local stores, combining the best features of both online and physical retail for instant gratification.
Clothing retailer Men’s Wearhouse recently launched a mobile app that lets people find suits in stores nearest them, perfect for those needing a last-minute tux for a wedding.
Shoppers are also getting information and products and help with their purchases over social media. It’s important for brick-and-mortar retailers to be vigilant on social media, as the old adage about a satisfied customer telling one person and a dissatisfied customer telling ten people is multiplied many times over the Internet.
Machine to machine (M2M) technology will be a valuable tool in omnichannel marketing. A number of retailers, including Apple (News - Alert), are using beacons to beam information on products to shoppers’ smartphones.
Ultimately, the distinction between online and physical stores may be blurred in the future.
“Barriers between ‘channels’ will continue to be lowered, with the concept of the channel ultimately disappearing and the shopping experience becoming completely seamless. With points to buy, inform or interact are woven into our lives, into the devices that we use – our mobile devices, our TVs, the day to day electronic items we use, even our clothes – the decision to buy will be made easier and simpler. Better, personalized information will help us make our decisions and sometimes our decisions will even be made for us with machine-to-machine communication, the newest channel on the block,” de Vos wrote.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey