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Helping Brick-and-Mortar Stores Move at the Speed of Digital Shopping

A strong job market and lowering inflation are making Americans more confident about the economy.
Stores need to keep pace with e-commerce.

If a consumer goes to a familiar website with a specific purchase in mind, they can find the item and check out with just a few clicks. Sometimes this whole journey can take less than a minute. 

For a brick-and-mortar shopping journey, the consumer must first get themselves to the store. Then they must find the item they want, which may have changed shelf locations, and bring it to the checkout counter or self-service station. Finally, they must take out their preferred payment method, pay and travel home.

Brick-and-mortar retail stores are struggling to keep up with e-commerce due to the efficiency and simplified shopping experience the channel provides. However, the glory days of the store don’t have to be behind us. 

To maintain and improve upon the success physical stores experienced before the proliferation of e-commerce, retailers must invest in helping their store move at the speed of digital shopping. The key to achieving relevant, efficient in-store customer experiences is by optimizing every touch point from the discovery phase until the post-purchase. 

Offering Personalization to Promote Discovery

When shopping online, consumers often find what they’re looking for immediately. In person, finding a desired item might require a few minutes of perusing the aisles and end caps, and even then, the shopper may miss what they wanted. When they can’t find what they need, shoppers will be tempted to search online for the product. This search might bring them to a competitor’s website. 

To keep this from happening, retailers should rely on personalization that guides shoppers through the store. AI-driven personalization can anticipate a shopper’s need and direct them to the product in store. 

For example, if a shopper buys the same package of paper towels every two weeks, and the paper products aisle is relocated, retailers can proactively inform customers. This can come in the form of a notification on a store device or the consumer’s app. 

The notification is carefully crafted by AI to ensure both content and delivery relevance, avoiding irritation from unwanted pop-ups. This outreach will enhance the speed-to-purchase for in-person journeys, bringing more value to the physical store. 

Similarly, personalization can enhance product discovery. Retailers can use this tool to notify shoppers when a relevant new product they may like is available. This can intrigue shoppers to visit the store and increase basket sizes. 

Personalization goes a long way when it comes to grabbing a shopper’s attention and simplifying the beginning of the customer journey. 

Introducing Time-Saving Payment Innovations

Over two thirds of shoppers admitted that they would leave a store without making a purchase if the checkout line was too long. One way to avoid this problem is by accepting more payment methods and offering more point-of-sale (POS) touch points that speed up the checkout process. 

Retailers can invest in different POS options, like scanless formats, branded scanning devices, smart carts or mobile checkouts that encourage shoppers to avoid lines altogether. These touch points also enhance personalization by requiring shoppers to sign in, providing another avenue for retailers to gather data on their shopper’s preferences. 

As mentioned above, data around what price points a customer prefers, their brand loyalty and their eagerness to try new products can be invaluable for personalized outreach. 

What’s more, by accepting different additional payment options like tap-and-go digital wallets and bitcoin, customers can check out quickly with their preferred method. Bringing the POS to the next level will unlock many efficiencies for the physical store that currently make the e-commerce experience so appealing. 

Incorporating Post-Purchase Touch Points That Incentivize Return Visits

Finally, retailers must invest in relevant ways to continuously engage shoppers, even after they leave the store. E-commerce sellers are very familiar with this and can add personalized information to e-receipts and follow-up emails. Fortunately, brick-and-mortar retailers can do this too. 

Retailers can use physical receipts to showcase personalized promotions or surveys. This initiative keeps the connection going beyond the checkout. For example, surveys give customers the chance to voice their opinions and retailers can chance learn from past success and mistakes. 

Similarly, post-purchase recommendations and discounts encourage more shopping trips and foster heightened customer lifetime value. Lastly, the use of loyalty programs can keep retailers in close contact with shoppers, reminding them of the value of repeat visits. 

Long-lasting relationships start with a single sale – but only if the retailer invests in the right post-purchase touch points.

Technology Brings Digital Conveniences to the Physical Store

The physical store is alive and its success will continue for years to come. But to ensure maximum profitability, retailers must create an in-store experience that moves just as quickly as the online option. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to retail across sectors like grocery and fashion, retailers should invest in technology that creates new efficiencies from product discovery to post-purchase. These pivotal investments will ensure the physical store has a long, successful future. 

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