Article by Audwin Cash, SVP of Atrius Enterprise Solutions, Acuity Brands
The digital experience has changed customer expectations. It’s no surprise that shoppers are now expecting more from their in-store shopping experience. In-person shoppers have been shown to spend more than online shoppers and after the restrictions of COVID-19 lift, retailers should be ready to welcome consumers back into their stores with the personalised experiences they desire.
Even before COVID-19, we knew consumers were spending more time than ever on their digital devices. Savvy retailers recognise what consumers love about the digital channel and are applying it to brick and mortar locations to unlock the full potential of omnichannel retailing. According to a recent survey, 60 percent of consumer packaged goods and retail companies said they created digital messages to drive in-store purchases. However, only 37 percent of those companies said they had a strategy in place to provide a unified customer experience from online information, to in-store purchase.
Right now, retailers are dealing with issues in their brick and mortar locations that our industry has never seen before. Despite the challenges facing stores, we see an opportunity for stores to integrate technologies that can help adapt to the new way customers interact with physical locations amidst the crisis and to prepare for when customers return.
It all starts with the shoppers and how they experience a brick and mortar store. Retailers who can personalise in-store shopping experiences will be the ones who succeed. To do this, adaptive retailers are figuring out how to create specific experiences that are uniquely tailored to each customer in a physical location. Below are some ideas for creating a great in-store customer experience.
Delight customers with in-store navigation
Indoor positioning and blue dot navigation technology can give a shopper precise positioning and wayfinding to the goods they are seeking. The overhead lights in a store can be used to establish a location-aware IoT network. This technology can merge the digital and physical shopping experience by capturing location data of a mobile app user to assist them as they navigate through the store. Imagine creating your shopping list in your mobile app from home and arriving at the store with the optimal shopping path presented on your device. Delight shoppers and save them precious time with this “Google Maps”-like shopping experience.
Personalised, location specific offers
Now with a location-aware lighting network installed, retailers can recognise app users, and push real-time, location-based offers to shoppers as they move throughout the store. This combination of solutions allows shoppers to use their mobile devices in-store for interest search and wayfinding, while allowing the retailer to push proximity-based promotional offers leading to increased basket size.
Use data to improve traffic flow for physical space optimisation
With COVID-19 changing customer behavior, location-aware technologies allow retailers to use a wide variety of techniques to make real-time adjustments. By leveraging location data captured through an IoT network, retailers can know more about customer shopping paths and patterns throughout the physical store location. This information can be used to improve the shopper’s experience by informing store design and changes to product placements in the store. The ability to make these updates can ensure that retailers are giving shoppers the space they need to feel safe as they return to shopping in brick and mortar stores.
Use mobile to optimise BOPIS
We can’t ignore the fact that COVID-19 has drastically changed the way people shop. Demand for BOPIS is surging and shoppers are now accustomed to this experience. Retailers can enable a mobile application paired with a location-aware IoT network to optimise the BOPIS shoppers’ journey. Instead of BOPIS shoppers mulling around the store searching for the items on their list, the app will navigate them to items using the quickest route.
A light at the end of the tunnel
Times are tough in retail, but we are optimistic about the future. Humans are social creatures and shopping is one of the activities that people will seek out once retail stores fully reopen. We know that over 78 percent of consumers would choose to spend money on an experience. Retailers who place the customer experience at the forefront of their strategy will be more likely to thrive as businesses and the economy continue to recover.