As we’ve pointed out in a number of recent blogs, research shows Australian shoppers still favour an in-store touchpoint as part of their buying journey rather than an online-only purchase experience. However, what we’d like to focus on in this article is the fact they are becoming increasingly influenced by digital media to direct which retailer(s) to pay an in-store visit to and what they intend to purchase when they arrive.
In one survey by Deloitte, digitally influenced in-store purchases made up more than five times that of eCommerce purchases. In 2014, less than 50% of customers were influenced by digital when shopping in-store. In 2015, that number leapt to 64% and has continued to grow through to 2019. In simple terms, consumers are blending digital technology with traditional shopping habits to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of their purchasing. Consumers are using digital in several ways to influence their purchasing decisions including:
- To get inspired: around 70% of consumers are finding inspiration from recommendations outside the retailer’s sphere of influence - including social recommendations from friends, family, blogs, social media and traditional media.
- To find suitable suppliers - 61% of consumers are using search engines and map applications (such as Google Maps) to identify a range of retailers that have the products they want and located nearby
- To research a supplier: 67% of shoppers are browsing the retailer’s site before shopping in-store - a key reason being to get an indication of readily available stock.
- To Click & Collect - Australian shoppers have a high usage of Click & Collect; the two key drivers being ‘to avoid home delivery charges (45% of shoppers)’, or because ‘it is more convenient than home delivery (37% of shoppers)’
- To select and validate: real customer reviews and opinions play an increasingly large part in today’s shopping experience. 67% of customers now shop after reading reviews either on the retailer’s site, social media, or third-party sites, before buying.
So, is your digital presence helping or hindering your in-store visits?
To provide a digital experience that maximises your opportunity of receiving in-store visits, you need to ensure you have the right omni-channel systems that fuse together your bricks and mortar and online stores.
Click & Collect / Stock-In-Store Check
By offering a well-designed Click & Collect and Online Stock Check system on your website, prospective customers have a means to ensure a local store has inventory available and then visit so they can get the goods they want the same day. This provides bricks and mortar retailers with a means to differentiate and compete against pure-play online brands by offering consumers quicker access and a cost saving on home delivery fees. It provides the reach and market coverage of eCommerce, the opportunity to differentiate on customer experience AND the higher average order values and lifetime value potential of in-store.
However, to live up to shopper expectations, retailers need live, real-time omni-channel systems in place that allow inventory across all of their stores to be up to date and instantly reserved for collection once a Click & Collect purchase is made online. Where inventory is not available in the preferred pickup location for the customer, best-of-breed systems enable stock to be transferred from other nearby stores. This reduces the risk of online abandonment due to the customer not seeing a nearby location that they can pickup from. A Google Maps integration provides a useful way for your customers to see the distance to your nearest stores.
Store products not being promoted on your eCommerce store (or vice versa) - Endless Aisles
In order to maximise sales potential and avoid a disconnect between what is available in-store versus online, your website should show all products available across your business operation - known as Endless Aisles. By showing products online that cannot be purchased in-store or having products in-store that aren’t promoted online you are creating unnecessary friction for the customer and denying yourself potential sales.
Bricks and Mortar Retailers Have a Potential Competitive Advantage
The in-store experience will continue to play a unique role in most shopping purchases, albeit blended with integrated digital channels to deliver the best of both worlds. If bricks and mortar retailers can invest in the right digital systems and integrations to their physical stores, they are well positioned to deliver a superior customer experience over their online-only rivals. In-store employees that are empowered with the right product knowledge, inventory & fulfilment management, loyalty and customer service systems can provide value and efficiency to shoppers that is hard to match with an online only purchasing journey.