For many years we have been hearing about the death of Main Street, and the pandemic was destined to be the proverbial nail in the coffin, with more than 17,000 stores will close only in 2021. Even though in-store purchases saw a brief back when the lockdowns endedfast forward a year and the retailers are struggling to attract buyers back at the store, amid a backdrop of transport strikes, heat waves and the constant pressure of the cost of living.
In this challenging climate, one thing is for sure: to survive and thrive, retail brands must rethink their in-store shopping experience to continue to engage the increasingly tech-savvy customer.
The rise of mobile
Mobile apps have been on the rise within the eCommerce industry for some time now, and the pandemic was a major driving factor. In fact, during the first wave of the pandemic, between February and May 2020, installations of shopping apps grew up over 150% in the UK and while restrictions have now been lifted it doesn’t look like things are slowing down. In the first three months of this year, the e-commerce application is installed in the United Kingdom raised 34% on iOS and 11% on Android.
E-commerce brands like Asos, etsy and Depop have led the way, and now we’re seeing more traditional retailers follow suit, recognizing the power of mobile as another channel to deliver exceptional experiences while maintaining customer loyalty. existing and attracting new audiences.
However, what is interesting is that these two channels (mobile and traditional) are not operating in silos. Which makes sense, given that most shoppers have used a retailer’s app while at one of their physical locations. As a result, we are now seeing brands using mobile devices as a way to enhance the in-store shopping experience, offering numerous benefits for both customers and brands.
try before you buy
Being able to see, feel, and try on items has always been an advantage for brick-and-mortar stores over their digital counterparts, but that doesn’t mean it’s always been a seamless process. Queues to get into changing rooms are typical at peak times and in some cases it’s just not practical to try before you buy.
That’s why beauty brand L’Oréal’s augmented reality-based app lets you “try on” hair dye without leaving the store by overlaying your desired color on a real-time image on your mobile phone. . Customers can try on makeup in the same way, ensuring they leave the store with the perfect product.
It’s not just the hair and makeup either. Ikea has an app that allows customers to see what different pieces of furniture will look like in their home, before making a purchase. Not only is this great from a user experience perspective, but it also helps reduce the likelihood of returns, which can be costly for many brands.
Finally, regardless of whether they can try the product or not, apps can also help customers make more informed decisions by allowing them to quickly check reviews and ratings of the products they are interested in. This also gives brands a better understanding. in the interests of their customers, so that they can show them similar products in their application that they can buy right there in the store.
There’s nothing more frustrating than going into a store with a particular item in mind and not being able to easily find it, either because it’s out of stock or because the store is too big.
Many brands, including H&M and Zara, allow customers to search for specific store stock availability through their app. This not only improves the experience for the customer, but also relieves pressure on in-store sales staff to answer questions about stock availability or sizing.
Marks & Spencer is also testing an AR app called List & Go, which allows shoppers to upload a wish list and be guided to where each product is located at their local M&S.
Drive customer loyalty
Increasingly, retailers are realizing that their app users are among their most loyal and spending customers, and as such, driving installs and engagement is becoming a top priority. While this can include in-app advertising, influencer marketing, social media campaigns, and more, something as simple as a QR code that can be easily scanned in locker rooms and at checkout is another great, cost-effective option to win over people. audience. who is already familiar and committed to the brand.
In today’s era, it is clear that traditional retailers cannot take a “one channel fits all” approach. Consumers want to interact with a brand at their convenience, whether on their phones, computers, in-store or more than one at the same time, and they expect each interaction to be seamless and consistent. As a result, the physical shopping experience is evolving, and the brands that stand out are the ones that manage to blur the lines between offline and online in new and exciting ways.
Sue Azari is e-commerce leader, EMEA and LATAM at Application brochure