This month, Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s launched mobile checkout capabilities so that store employees can check out customers using mobile devices. Big box retailers are also offering digital navigation tools to help customers find their way through aisles to locate items quickly, find products at other store locations, or get products shipped to their home.
With in-store technology that facilitates convenience, retailers are shifting away from the old industry mindset of getting customers into stores so they’ll spend more time, and potentially more money.
Why Ease and Convenience Are The New In-store Sales Strategy
Retailers are now focusing on making the in-store experience as efficient as possible. They’re no longer concerned about a customer that only spends a few minutes picking up a low-price item. What retailers want now is to build loyalty through ease of transaction and repeat visits.
“The legacy model of retail is all about having the inventory and having customers come pick it up. If you’re engaging in inventory retail, the only way to win is when a customer needs it right at that time today; as Amazon does more same-day delivery, you’re going to lose.”
Source: Retail analyst Andrew Lipsman via Digiday
Instead of trying to compete with Amazon using the legacy inventory model (hoping that whatever is in stores will encourage customers to make purchases) retailers are banking on shopping experiences driven by convenience. To accomplish this, they’re striving to provide a fast and smooth checkout, offer options to pick up or ship items to stores, and bringing in digital tools to assist customers with finding products either in the store or online.
“It’s about giving them options — what the [customer’s] choice is for a particular trip,” says Walmart rep Ragan Dickens. “It’s about an omnichannel approach and what works for them in that moment.”
Now offering a new “skip the line” convenience service, Target has equipped employees with mobile devices to work the busiest sections of its stores and help customers make purchases without waiting in line at the checkout. In addition to curbside and in-store pickup, Target is aiming to cater differently to customers who need to get in and out fast, as well as those who have time to leisurely browse inventory.
For example, Target is considering future store designs with two entrances: an inspiration entrance for shoppers who want to spend time at the store, and a convenience entrance for those who are in a rush. This concept is the inspiration for Target’s Houston “next generation” store and will also influence plans for 600 store redesigns by 2019.
“Less time at the store is not a concern — our traffic has been increasing. The more convenient we can make our stores, the more relevant they are to [customers’] lifestyles.”
Source: Target rep Eddie Baeb, Digiday
According to David Bray, CEO of Briz Media Group, focusing exclusively on growing purchase volumes during each individual visit has given way to the longer-term loyalty play, with a convenient in-store experience at its core. And technology is playing a big role in making the experience easier and more enjoyable for customers, which will result in a more positive association with brands that are willing to implement it.
“The old school philosophy is you want to keep them there and make them shop for shoes, makeup and what have you, but now with the online offerings, the offline world is about creating the brand relationships with the consumer.”
Source: David Bray via Digiday
Brands that retain their relevance are those that are able to keep the trust and loyalty of their customers by constantly evolving to provide the best shopping experience. Like the brands mentioned above, retailers willing to take a risk and redefine what they do and how they do it to stay ahead of what their customers might need and expect will reap the benefits.
“Maintaining brand relevance is the key to remaining valuable to the people who matter to your business and where it’s headed,” says Emotive Brand.
Take some time to consider how you can build a more relevant brand by adopting technology that will enhance the in-store experience for your customers.
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Also published on Medium.