Physical retail helps in cultivating the direct and meaningful relationships with the customers. Since, online is spreading its wings so it might not be much favorable time for physical retailers. But, the existence of physical retail in the long run can’t be questioned. A study from McKinsey predicted that by 2020, more than 80% sales in the US retail market will still happen within the four walls of a store. Moreover, if we look at further examples Wholefoods’ acquisition by Amazon further solidifies the importance of offline retail when the industry is already in the transition phase.
If we talk about overall omnichannel strategy of any retailer, physical stores are the most important part of overall channel integration. Speaking further on same, Madhusudhan Kandula, Associate Business Manager, HCL Retail & CPG Consulting, said, “Most omnichannel initiatives deal with stores such as find in store, reserve in store, ship from store, buy online pick up in store, ship to store, and return in store. These initiatives are driving traffic to stores and reducing the delivery service levels.”
Retailers do make ample amount of investments to bring these initiatives to end customers in the form of mobile apps, customizing promotions, ensuring price parity etc. These retail applications play an utmost important role in providing product information and its availability to customers. It would be the great scenario if the customer walks into the store with product information. However, the store associate should be well equipped. A recent research claimed that around 72% of customers who dealt with associates having digital tools in assisting felt their shopping experience to be much better.
As per Kandula below are some of the key initiatives, involving digital tools, to implement in stores.
Mobile POS and Access to universal cart
A store associate should be enabled to pull customers’s online cart in the store either to modify or complete the purchase. This could be achieved via mobile application.
Mobile POS can be used to hassle free and easy check out, rather than letting the customers wait in billing ques.
Better tools for customer engagement
provide up to date information to store associates about products such as pricing, specifications, images, how to use videos, promotions, offers, customer reviews, availability in store, availability across the enterprise, location of item in store, customer’s past purchases, favorites, saved products, past store visits, and shipping preferences either through mobile or kiosk application.
Such information will help the store associate in initiating more engaging conversation with the customers, and they will be able to provide more appropriate information.
Task Management Application
The changing role of store involves associates in multiple activities other than regular shelf replenishment and sales tasks. This brings the need for a task management application which helps the store manager to schedule and allocate tasks to associates.
Task management coupled with information such as store traffic, peak hours, weather, local events, customer appointments, and scheduled store deliveries allow stores to utilize labor effectively by prioritizing and allocating tasks in an optimized way
Digital Planogram Compliance
Any misplace item within the store should be bought into associate’s knowledge immediately either vis mobile alert or planogram compliance. Misplaced item alert may save a lost sale opportunity from a customer who wish to buy a product but couldn’t because of its unavailability on the shelf. This is highly beneficial for specialty retailers where losing a potential sale opportunity is costly.
Providing a platform for stores to interact or share information among themselves help store associates to be updated on what’s happening across stores and to get insights on customer behavior.
Self-paced training module
Developing mobile-based, self-paced training module for store associates which can be accessed anytime help them acquiring knowledge on various topics such as retail processes, procedures, and customer engagement.