December 22, 2016

Online shopping while in a store is good for brick-and-mortar business

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The 2016 holiday season is set to break an online shopping record. For the first time ever, consumers plan to spend just as much money online as they do in-store. Already the National Retail Federation reports that 44 percent of respondents to their survey shopped online during the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend.

This projection probably isn’t surprising – it seems online shopping has been poised to surpass brick-and-mortar shopping in certain categories for some time now. But what you might not have predicted is that people would be shopping in your store and online – at the same time.

You’ve seen it happen, though, haven’t you? A shopper browsing in one of your stores will stop in front of an item and look it up on their phone – on your site or on your competitor’s site, comparing prices and models or reading reviews.

The practice can be disconcerting for retailers who are already stressed about battling showrooming and increasing online shopping trends. But a new study from InMoment says not to worry – shoppers browsing retail websites while in your stores is actually good for your sales goals.

As it turns out, shoppers who browse your website while they’re in your store end up spending 2.2 times more in-store than those who don’t. If they’re browsing a competitor’s store, they’ll average a spend of 20 percent more in your store. And if you’re an apparel retailer? Shoppers browsing a competitor’s mobile site could yield you 150 percent more.

How should you prepare your sales associates to interact with customers who are shopping in-store and online simultaneously? Customer experience is still a top priority. “Ensure that what employees recommend in stores is consistent with what shoppers can find online,” InMoment says. “Consumers have a need for both in-store and online assistance, but the connection will not be lucrative if there is confusion or inconsistencies with the basic information shared in company training materials.”

For those customers who do shop online, don’t forget your omnichannel fulfillment strategy. Retailing today means selling via any – and every – method you can. Deloitte outlines various strategies and their pros and cons and cautions retailers to “offer customers the exact kind of delivery they want.” Are your stores and your supply chain prepared?

If you offer shoppers same-day pickup to stay competitive with other sites, do you have staff available to fulfill those orders and meet customer demand, or are they preoccupied with other tasks? Every minute counts when it comes to customer experience, so make sure your employees are available to help both in-store shoppers and online customers who are picking up orders.

Today’s consumers are used to having everything they need at their fingertips – just because they use a mobile device to check out their options while they’re in your store doesn’t mean you’re about to lose their business. In fact, with the right employee interactions and customer experience, just the opposite can be true.

 

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Image: iStock