Increasing online retail is putting massive pressure on stationary retail because online retail is booming while stationary retail has to struggle with decreasing customer frequencies. Many businesses are closing part of their branches and trying to fight the competition in online retail. For this reason, individual retailers are being forced to rethink their shop concepts and adapt to the digital development. This means that stationary retail should also take into account the new technologies (such as mobile technology) that its end customers are using and the sales channels created in this way in the sales area. Here, it is worth using existing data and systems and creating an omnichannel strategy from them.
Omnichannel creates new channels
Omnichannel means linking different sales and communication channels together. For example, digital touchpoints link the online and offline worlds in stationary retail. Digital contact points in branches offer numerous ways to trigger purchase impulses in end customers and generate a benefit for the consumer. The consequence of the absolute separation of online and stationary retail is that many existing synergies and data cannot be used efficiently and this creates additional effort, which in turn causes additional costs.
Using online advantages in digital in-store communication
For digital in-store solutions as part of the omnichannel strategy, the benefits of online retail must also be adapted for stationary retail. Functions such as
- digital and fast price comparisons
- home delivery
- product suggestions
are not only possible in online retail but are frequently only made available to consumers there.
Why not use the existing data in stationary retail and make the purchase easier for the customer in this way?
Data from the web shop or product management system can also be used in-store for the customer and integrated into digital solutions in order to create omnichannel platforms. Quick and simple price and product comparisons and helpful ratings and reviews optimise customers’ purchases and support them in choosing the right products.
Making the purchase easier for the customer
The aim should be to make purchasing in stationary retail lucrative and easy for customers and pick them up in terms of the requirements covered by online retail. Additionally, customers should benefit from the advantages of stationary retail, such as purchasing the goods directly, the haptic perception of the product and advice from the sales adviser. While time and place play no part in online purchasing, stationary retail benefits from customers being able to perceive the products with all their senses – a special shopping experience.
Virtual sales area extension
One success and benefit-orientated opportunity for connecting online and stationary retail is a digital touchpoint as a virtual sales area extension. In the following we would like to show you an example of such as omnichannel solution:
A virtual sales area extension means increasing the existing sales area using digital technology in the branches. Many retailers have more products in stock than they can display in their sales area. For instance, retailer y has 20 different tables in stock but can only display ten of them due to space restrictions. With the virtual sales area extension the retailer will benefit from an additional digital sales area to present all his products in addition to the web shop. The product data that are already available in the product management and other systems and are used for the web shop can also be used for the digital touchpoint and prepared and presented accordingly.
This means that customers have a contact point in the branch via which they can
- call up the products the retailer has on offer
- check what products are available in the branch and what products can be ordered in the branch or are available for home delivery
- compare products with each other
Depending on implementation, further features can be integrated into the stationary contact point, such as:
- customer-specific information administration by logging in, with a customer card, for example
- or other functions.
A link with customers’ smartphones, e.g. for saving product comparisons or a link with the shopping basket, can be integrated into the digital solution.
This touchpoint offers customers an optimised purchase, an overview of the products on offer (by connection to the product management system), support in choosing products and additional information on products (e.g. choice of colour, contents, materials etc.).
Retailers benefit from advantages such as:
- Optimum use of available space
- Presentation of their entire stock independently of the shop area
- Use of already existing data
- Support for sales advisers when talking to customers because product information can be called up quickly and easily via the touchpoint
- Additional communication and sales channel
- Gathering of customer data
The virtual sales area extension is one of many possibilities of a digital touchpoint as part of an omnichannel strategy. There are many other solutions that can be implemented depending on retailers’ requirements and aimed at their target group. In this case it is worth consulting experts who can support and give advice and work out the solution in such a way that the desired aims can be achieved.
Touchpoint coordination to the customer journey
Not everything that works in online retail automatically leads to equal success in stationary retail. A good methodical preparation with a clear coordination of touchpoints to the customer journey and customer experience is crucial here.
Identical positioning of the existing web shop in the sales area is not the idea of well-considered digital in-store communication or an ideal omnichannel strategy. Although the appropriate data are used and prepared for stationary retail, the customer journey and experience in practice must be considered. Real added value for the customer can only be achieved if the content of the digital solution is set up with an orientation towards location and target group. This means content preparation orientated to the channel. It is to the customers’ benefit when they can call up stock on location, for example, via the digital touchpoint or call on a sales adviser for a sales talk. Otherwise, customers can also call up the web shop via their mobile devices and benefit indirectly from the digital touchpoint in the branch.
Digital in-store communications can be used to implement a rigorous omnichannel strategy. The idea here is to incorporate the benefits of the online world into stationary retail and facilitate customers’ purchases. By using existing data, information can be also transferred to customers with a view to location and target group in stationary retail. The combination of online and offline creates new sales and communication pathways and optimises both the purchase for the customer and the sale for the retailer. The right omnichannel solution, and therefore the correct implementation of digital touchpoints in stationary retail, must be defined according to each individual dealer. In order to achieve success, the end customers must always be in focus and their requirements considered.