What Is In Store for Stores

By Kevin Swanwick,
What Is In Store for Stores

It’s no secret that in-store shopping is changing.

The rise of eCommerce, mobile buying and omni-channel technology are reshaping the retail landscape, and though stores will never go away, we’re already seeing them change form. I recently participated in a webinar hosted by RIS News’ Joe Skorupa that explored the future of brick-and-mortar stores and how digital commerce will drive new retail innovation. The webinar dove into the factors affecting the future of in-store shopping, such as how digital trends are impacting shopping habits and the future of mobile point of sale (POS) systems. Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways.

The Digital Influence

Digital is influencing customer behavior in a big way. According to Forrester Research, 52 percent of purchases made in-store are influenced online and 89 percent of customers expect to view in-store inventory online before coming into the store.

In fact, for retailers who don’t show their inventory online, a quarter of customers say they won’t even bother visiting the location. This is one example of how today’s retailers need to rethink how they sell. If they’re not aware of this trend, they may face a huge problem with in-store sales; if they are aware, they can see opportunity and draw customers into stores with what they make available online.

Digital technology influences customer behavior in other ways as well. For example, 73 percent of customers expect to “click and collect” (buy online and pick up in store) and 86 percent of customers expect to return online orders in store. These expectations certainly present challenges for retailers, but they are part of a reality that today’s brands must prepare for as the store evolves. These findings also allude to the idea that store traffic is going down because customers are doing more pre-shopping and using technology more smartly to know where to shop. As a result, retailers need to focus on conversion and engagement, facilitated by technology.

Mobile Imperative

Mobile is also influencing sales, even those made in stores. An amazing 66 percent of shoppers use their mobile phones while they’re in store, and 39 percent of customers are more likely to shop or interact with sales associates who are equipped with mobile devices. To this end, the role of the sales associate is changing as well. The new associate needs to learn more about customers - their wants and how to assist them - and how to create a personalized experience. With customer expectations rising, personalization is becoming more important. In fact, 45 percent of customers say they have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.

Mobile is affecting the POS space as well, and it’s about more than just payment. There’s ample opportunity to engage with customers throughout the entire store experience, before the payment phase, and mobile is leading the charge in this area. In fact, when done correctly, mobile presents a great opportunity to enable an over-the-top experience for in-store shoppers.

It’s clear that consumer expectations are increasing. With the rise of digital technology and the “always connected” mentality that comes with mobile, the legacy store in its current form struggles to produce a good experience in today’s high-tech world.

That said, the brick-and-mortar store will always be a part of the shopping experience. Like most things, it will simply adapt.

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