Is a retail store just a “changing room” for the web?
With the advancement in technology, consumers no longer have to be tied down to their local stores, or spend a weekend driving to larger cities to find the perfect pair of jeans. Many shoppers are wise to cheaper online prices, driven by the choice available online.
Shoppers now have the ability to scan items in-store using a smart phone, which trawls the internet for price comparisons and offers the same product at a cheaper price. Rarely will the cheapest offer be the same in store, so a physical retail presence is only benefiting the digital world!
Once the perfect size jeans have been found, tried on, and handed back to the staff member, online the consumer goes to select and pay for the item on the web from their phone or PC from a different, less expensive, supplier! The only downside for the shopper is that they cannot wear the item until it is delivered! A small price to pay for the discounts available and a little bit of extra patience!
Are retail stores just seen as somewhere to check that the clothes fit before clicking the buy button from home?
How can the retail industry look to readdress this trend? A competitive response to market conditions is not a new factor in retail. There is a constant drive to ensure that the expanding number of choices available to a consumer results in repeat business for a store. Great lengths have been placed on differentiation in customer service, brand awareness, promotional material, along with the more obvious drive to keep prices down. When we move to online shopping, design, and trust are still important features of the customer experience, but price plays a more important part in the decision process. For a physical store to compete with a faceless online store, there must be an effort to recognise the online advantages and compete directly with them.
There are a number of methods to discourage shoppers purchasing the goods online once an item has been chosen. The simple fact of offering competitive or matching the prices found elsewhere should convert a browser into a buyer. Other successful methods include loyalty reward schemes where targeted promotions & selective offers may drive shoppers to a store. This method requires careful planning and consumer insight to gain the best return, but when done well, can be worth the investment.
From the many tactics available to retailers, it seems that it is time to embrace this consumer behaviour and plan accordingly. Choice is set to continue and even European barriers are slowly falling. The streets are still busy, but are shoppers holding as many shopping bags?
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