The ever-present question in the minds of consumers – who is going to win the battle between online retailers and bricks-and-mortar stores? Will the bricks-and-mortar stores close down or will the online retailers go bust trying to meet insatiable customer expectations?
These are the questions that people have been asking since digital retailers first entered the market – but have you ever wondered if both could co-exist?
Retailers are beginning to realize that what’s important is providing a first-class experience to customers, wherever they happen to shop, online or in brick and mortar stores. Retailers now know that the best customer experiences combine the tangible, intimate experience of visiting a store with the kind of data-driven personalized experience that can only be provided by digital sales channels.
This kind of synergy is essential for all retailers, even the biggest ones on the planet. Amazon has seemed like the arch-enemy of bricks-and-mortar stores for the last 20 years, but Amazon recently announced plans to open bricks-and-mortar stores of their own, right before their acquisition of Whole Foods.
On a physical level, retailers such as Ikea offer an excellent model for the development of a customer experience. Entering an Ikea store is like stepping into a dream world, where customers walk through a labyrinth and face myriad visions of their potential future home. The Ikea experience excites and engages customers building loyalty far beyond the initial purchase.
Some retailers have moved to the other extreme and are not focused on selling goods in their stores. Nordstrom, for example, is launching Nordstrom Local stores which don’t sell clothes. Instead, they offer a spa, a café, a bar and consultations with stylists and tailors. The goal is to create a Nordstrom Experience so that customers feel the brand is part of their lifestyle.
And that’s where ThirdEye Data comes in.
Combining the Digital and Physical Experiences Using Technology.
“Connected Retail” by ThirdEye Data is one of the first solutions to get to market that offers this kind of integrated experience. Using predictive and batch analytics based on customer profile data, sales data, inventory data, historical data, retailers can create a personalized experience for every shopper, no matter where they chose to shop.
Imagine walking into a store and being greeted by your name, your smartphone buzzes with discount coupons and notifies you as to where your favourite products are. Every special offer is something that you are interested in, with no time wasted, and you don’t need to offer any payment on the way out. When you next visit the retailer website, there’s an easy option to buy any products you considered the last time you were at the store.
Now imagine you’re the business manager of the store’s chain in the area. You can access a single unified dashboard showing your KPIs for the day: converted sales, customer paths through the store, responsiveness to offers. It’s information that gives you a huge competitive edge over the other stores on your street, while the seamless experience helps to drive online revenues.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether a customer buys a product from the store or online. What matters is that they come back and consider you to be their default retailer.
As we’ve already seen, physical retailers are doing this by creating great experiences in their locations. Digital retailers do this by leveraging big data. Analytics allows us to anticipate what a customer wants almost before they know it themselves, and to serve up the right deals at the right time.
Data gives retailers great powers, but customers are more than lines in a database. Customers are people who like to pick things up, try things on and chat with the staff before they make a purchase. They want to give their money to a retailer they like, and that they feel likes them. And bricks-and-mortar stores can make them feel that they like them by harnessing sophisticated analytics to create hyper-targeted experiences around each of them individually.
Thus, in a world where customers are beginning to expect seamless connected experiences, a sophisticated strategy based on a solution like the Connected Retail solution from ThirdEye Data is primal for survival.