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Survey: How are retailers keeping stores relevant?

Brick-and-mortar retailers are leveraging omnichannel technology to create competitive advantage, according to a new survey.

According to “Brick and Mortar Loyalty: How Brand and InStore Engagement Strategies Go Hand in Hand,” a survey of retail executives from the Future Stores 2019 conference, 61% of respondents have changed their brand strategy to create a more inclusive, personalized in-store environment, and another 36% have a real strategy to do so. Only 3% have not made this type of strategic shift and have no plans to do so.

When asked how they compete with digital channels using in-store customer experiences, respondents answered as follows:

• Provide “phygital” experiences that can’t be achieved online (64%)
• Emphasize real-time, in-store personalization (62%)
• Deliver in-store multimedia experience (61%)
• Leverage augmented reality customers can use with mobile devices (55%)
• Digital “endless aisle” (54%)

Responses to the question of whether they have modernized their stores and branding to span online and offline environments were similar to those about changing brand strategy: 76% said yes, 22% said no but they have a real strategy, and 2% said no with no real strategy.

Respondents were also asked to rate in-store strategies based on how strongly they are considering implementing them in the near term. The most popular strategy is taking a mobile-first approach to customer engagement. Seventy percent of retailers have already implemented this strategy, while 27% plan to implement it in 2019. Only 3% are only considering this strategy. Similarly, 65% of retailers facilitate digital customer actions, and 29% plan to do so in 2019. Only 6% of retailers are only considering this strategy

Furthermore, 61% of respondents have already created a unified, seamless experience between digital and in-store environments, and almost all others (37%) will implement this method in 2019. Over half of retailers (57%) are already exploring new opportunities to create social and experiential environments in stores, and 77% already consider this strategy important or critical. Most other respondents (41%) will begin exploring these environments in 2019.

More than half (56%) of retailers have already implemented user-generated content to gain customer trust, while 39% plan to do so in 2019. Only 5% of retailers are simply considering this marketing method.

Nearly half of retailers (49%) already supply in-store teams with online and offline data to increase personalization and drive loyalty. This strategy is growing in popularity, as 40% plan to do so before the end of 2019, and the remaining 11% are considering adoption of this strategy.

Although only 45% of retailers are already integrating physical and digital branding strategies for a modernized, holistic customer experience, most (52%) plan to do so in 2019. Three percent are only interested.

Other notable responses include:

• 91% of respondents use digital channels to increase engagement and loyalty for physical stores.

• 63% of respondents utilize online appointment scheduling to enable customers to create one-to-one in-store appointments, and 23% are interested in doing so.
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