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Why it’s crucial for retailers to understand in-store behavior

Blog
20th October 2017

91% of retail activity still takes place inside stores, yet much of the attention on customer experience innovation has been focused on how to personalise websites and apps. The most profitable customers are those who switch easily between the in-store and online environment. But how well do you understand the behaviour of those customers you can actually see in-store?

Analysis in Retail Customer Experience recently suggested that 79% of customers appreciate it when a retailer gives them a discount or recommendation based on their purchase history. This is relatively easy when online because the customer is usually signed in, but how can retailers start to approach this level of personal service in-store?

The approach will change from one retailer to the next, but I believe there are three key steps that all of them need to take to make this work in-store:

  1. Accept the importance of omni-channel service. Study the best practices and experience of retailers that are further ahead on this journey. Case study after case study shows that by blending the online and offline experience retailers create more valuable customers – in particular when data analysis allows those customers who use both channels to be the focus of attention.
  2. Merge the experience. What are you offering online that makes the service better or more personal? How can you introduce this to the in-store environment and demonstrate to in-store customers that you can offer them the same personal service and great deals?
  3. Make it essential. Just launching an app with a few offers will not tempt most customers to walk in a store and login. You need to think about how an app or mobile website can connect the in-store customer to that online data filled with preferences and past shopping behaviour – they need an enticing reason to login from the store. Retailers that allow customers to avoid checkout lines by using the app understand that it’s this feature that tempts customers to login and therefore they can also have a more personal experience too.

Coffee giant Starbucks has had enormous success with their own app because it allows the customer to order a coffee and then pay for it before they even arrive at the cafe. This means that their in-store experience is dramatically improved – they can arrive and pick-up their order immediately. No waiting for the Barista and no waiting to pay. It’s this kind of advantage that you need to consider – using apps in a way that allows personalisation, but also directly improves the in-store experience.

In-store and online service have often been considered to be entirely different functions. Often they are managed completely separately and to customers it can appear as if the two are competing and not just a part of the same company. Take that first step and acknowledge that an omni-channel strategy is essential and you will be starting along the path to creating a greatly improved in-store customer experience. Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn.


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David Turner
Article by: David Turner

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