In the recent years, customers have moved from shopping in stores to buying products online. With over 2 billion people worldwide owning smartphones and 82 percent of smartphone users shopping via their mobile devices, retailers are struggling to connect customers’ online experience with their in-store experience.
How can retailers bridge the gap between these online and the offline worlds?
Even though customers enjoy the perks of buying items online and getting them delivered without having to leave the house, not everyone finds delivery convenient. Instead, there is a new tendency for customers to order online and collect their orders from a store. These so called click and collect services solve the problems associated with last mile delivery, as customers no longer have to wait at home for an order to arrive. It also drives customers into stores for order collection, which gives retailers the opportunity to streamline the shopping experience by creating a connected journey the online to the store. For example, retailers can engage with click and collect customers by offering them incentives such as discounts and coupons, when they visit a store to collect an order.
According to the John Lewis Retail Report 2014, customers who shop both online and in-store spend on average three times more than single channel shoppers. So the prize is big if retailers find ways to connect the dots between customers’ online and in-store experiences.
There are predictions that 76% of online shoppers will use Click & Collect by 2017, which means that retailers need to think how to transform the service into a positive experience for the customer. One way to do that is for retailers to combine their click and collect service with location technology. This enables retailers to know the exact moment a customer walks in to collect an online order. Staff members can be alerted, and can start preparing the order for collection straight away. In the meantime, using the same location technology, retailers can monitor precisely where a customer is in their store. They can then use this information to engage with customers in real-time on their phones – bringing the online and physical worlds together. Through location technology, retailers can deliver customers relevant content, or trigger actions, as people pass by a specific product in the store. This is a real chance for retailers to provide customers with a great online experience that connects seamlessly with their in-store experience.
While brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to bring their online customers in-store, online retailers are opening physical stores to satisfy customers’ needs. For example, the biggest online retailer, Amazon, opened its first physical book store in Seattle in late 2015 and since then, there have been discussions about expanding the retailer’s physical footprint. Key reasons behind this include Amazon providing a more personal shopping experience to its customers, reducing shipping costs by providing a store pick-up facility and integrating the online and offline shopping experience for its consumers.
Any retailer has no choice but to constantly innovate to meet customers’ demands for more convenient, personalised service and control over their shopping experience. Click and collect in combination with location technology gives customers every reason to engage with retailers online and offline.
 John Lewis “How we shop 2014” report, ASDA Presentation Retail Week 2014