What eCommerce can learn from in-store teams

Use powerful customer insights from the shop floor to deliver better experiences

4 Aug 2022

When it comes to improving the online experience, it’s easy to get caught up in website analytics and spending patterns. But disregarding the value of in-store engagement is a lost opportunity. Whether online or in-store, a positive engagement between your employees and your customers is, and will always be, inextricably linked to more purchases.

The next step for online retail is to marry the best of both worlds – providing a more personal, convenient shopping experience than ever before. You only need to look at Amazon opening its own brick-and-mortar stores to see that in-store experiences still have a lot to offer when combined with online. Here’s what you can learn from your staff on the shop floor to build stronger customer relationships online – and vice versa.

Bring the in-store experience to your online store

In-store retail can adapt many tried-and-true strategies to improve the online shopping experience. Here are our top four learnings:

Enhance customer service for better engagement

The knowledge in-store staff gain from their shopfloor experiences with customers is invaluable, and a key driver of why people still love to shop in a physical store. Whether explaining complicated technology products in simple terms or giving great fashion advice, your staff make a big difference to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Online retailers can recreate that experience using sophisticated communication technologies and call centres. During the pandemic, 75% of shoppers went online and tried new brands and shopping methods. The extra competition means it’s more important than ever to have knowledgeable, friendly brand advocates who can speak to customers directly, 24/7.

Get personal by leveraging customer data

The most successful retail employees are the ones who remember people’s names and preferences. Developing personal relationships with customers and anticipating their needs has long proven to enhance the shopping experience and create more loyalty.

Online stores can establish the same personal experience through data tracking and targeting. By leveraging customer data, online retailers can offer product recommendations and promotions based on a customer’s interest and behaviour.

Integrated systems for seamless shopping

Walk into any successful department store, and you’ll find it’s always well-designed, polished and functional, with eye-catching and on-brand merchandise displays. You likely won’t catch a faulty light bulb, dirty floors or broken air conditioning unit.

Online stores should apply the same standards. Why? For new customers, your online store might be the first interaction they have with your brand, giving them a glimpse of what to expect. From quality hardware and fast servers to premium live-chat applications, everything should be working seamlessly and intuitively so your customers can browse and buy the same way they would in-store.

Boost sales with cross-merchandising and upsells

Imagine you’ve just purchased a new toy for your child, and you only remember to buy batteries because you walk past the stand at checkout. That’s cross-selling. It’s an age-old technique that customers genuinely appreciate and instantly increases the value of their experience. Recommendations or cross-selling can be achieved online too. For example, when a customer adds a pair of pants to their cart, you could recommend a matching blouse to complete the outfit or show similar products other customers have purchased.

Use your online store to improve in-store sales

Leverage online customer data in-store

For many years, in-store retailers have turned to their inventory to determine stock fluctuations, store layouts, preferences and shopping patterns. However, the methods have always been tedious and often inaccurate.

With the right software, online stores enjoy a limitless capacity to track and compile customer purchasing data to provide powerful insights. Every transaction and experience will better predict what customers want. Fortunately, you can leverage that same technology to inform the in-store experience, allowing stores to adjust the layout of high-traffic areas and become more efficient with inventory.

Modern loyalty programmes

Customers have always preferred exclusive in-store promotions, loyalty cards and discounts. It’s a proven method for boosting sales and improving the shopping experience – and that equals happy customers. With modern technology, in-store retailers can elevate their loyalty programs and use customer data tracked online to target in-store sales. You can also encourage customers to shop in-store more often by rewarding their loyalty with thank-you discounts and promotions. Customers will appreciate a consistent loyalty program that offers special rewards based on the way they prefer to shop.

An online presence that feels more store-like

In the early days of eCommerce, many experts predicted that retail stores were doomed to fail. But over time, as online shopping has evolved and the pandemic threw an unprecedented curveball, there’s a greater understanding of how online and physical environments can work in harmony. As the world adjusts to a new normal post-pandemic, it’s evident that shoppers don’t want to buy everything online and the in-store experience still has a lot to offer. Online stores should aim to achieve the same balance of technology and personal interaction. Just as Amazon suggests, the best way to serve modern customers is the right mix in both channels.

For more ideas on optimising your online store, speak with the experts at Solutionists today.

author:

Sina Hunter

date published:

4 Aug 2022