It’s a conflict we see a lot with our clients: the competition felt between brick and mortar retail employees and a newly implemented eCommerce site. Think of Dwight from "The Office," who feels personally threatened when Dunder Mifflin starts selling paper online and vows to beat the computer single-handedly.
For a commission-based employee, it’s a common fear. The reality, however, is that eCommerce initiatives have been shown to benefit in-store business, not detract from it.
As your shopper’s relationship with technology grows, the only way to successfully move forward in the retail industry is to embrace the digital resources that your customers have access to.
Do Your Research
In order to successfully connect with customers, you first have to understand their shopping habits. As Google discovered in their Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping study, most retailers don’t truly understand how digital affects in-store purchases and vice versa.
Some shoppers view their local store as more of a pickup or distribution center than a place to browse and get information. And just because a shopper is in the store doesn’t mean that the option of digital has left their mind, either. Google’s study found that 33% of shoppers head into stores to research a product they may or may not buy in-store, and 42% of in-store shoppers search for information online while in a retail location.
Take these behaviors into consideration, work them into your buyer personas, and approach each customer accordingly.
Bring Your Store to the Customer
One of the benefits of eCommerce is that it’s a store that’s always open and always available when the customer wants it. But instead of simply giving your customers access to your eCommerce site, use technology to bring the nearest retail location to wherever your customer is at the moment.
We already know that customers research products online before purchasing, so why not show them that a specific product is in stock at their nearest brick and mortar store? In Google’s study, they found that shoppers are more inspired to visit a store after being told that an item is available in-store nearby.
Another resource is in-store pickups, like the service offered by Gap and Banana Republic. This allows the customer to shop online when they have time and then reserve the item at their nearest store in order to try it on or purchase it.
These options combine the always-on offerings of eCommerce with the immediate satisfaction and in-person expertise of in-store, giving your customer a great experience across your brand.
Present a United Front
Instead of viewing your company’s eCommerce site as the competition, remember that you’re all on the same team. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to complete the sale and make the customer happy. As Google states in their study, you need to care less about where a sale happens and more about how to make it happen when the customer is ready.
The bottom line is that eCommerce is happening whether brick and mortar retail likes it or not, so embrace the technology and use it to your advantage instead of fighting against it. Between being a research tool prior to a purchase and providing in-store assistance, your online presence can truly help to aid a customer’s in-store experience.