While it’s true that online shopping continues to grow, the future of retail remains grounded in bricks. You don’t have to look much farther than the fact that Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce business, has purchased Whole Foods in a move that many see as the online giant’s bet on physical retail.
Other hints are out there, such as the preference of millennials and Gen Z to shop in physical stores and legacy retailers scooping up online-only businesses such as Wal-Mart’s acquisition of Modcloth and Nordstom’s purchase of Haute Look.
The latter is more proof that online shopping continues to have a massive impact on in-store shopping as some of online’s big names struggle, ultimately bought by established retail giants looking to diversify their online presence. What these successful retailers understand is that the click revolution has evolved the way people shop. They strive to service their customers to meet these new demands and to prepare for the future
“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company. ”
~Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
Online shopping is changing our expectations. When you’re plugged in online and you have a question about a product or a business, it takes seconds to learn more. A million data points and opinions floating in the internet are boiled down to simple quantifications: four stars out of five, eighty-nine percent satisfaction; twelve happy face emojis.
Today, opinions carry more weight than ever and your customers are bringing their online expectations for informed, personalized and hassle-free shopping into your store. What can you do to win over shoppers who have grown accustomed to an endless amount of options and information?
A person without a smile should not open a shop.
Create the experiences they want
You already did the hard part; you got your customer right there, inside your store. Now is your opportunity to maximize the experience, create loyalty and increase sales. But unless there’s a 1:1 staff to customer ratio, how can you engage them in a meaningful and unobtrusive way?
Online you can anticipate customer friction and prepare for it by providing product information and journey wayfinding that gets them through conversion. In your store, you can do the same thing. Digital signage can fulfill a self-guided or unassisted sales role. Quite literally, a small screen placed strategically near somewhat to very complex products can provide detailed information about the item that a sales staff member may not be available for.
In fact, the right content on digital signage could be better than a person. First of all, not all sales staff are as knowledgeable about your products as you’d like them to be, but even the most prepared may not be able to assist a customer who came in with a list of researched questions. Also, a lot of shoppers would rather not speak with a sales person at all, but prefer finding what they need and leaving as soon as possible.
And that’s assuming you have the staff to cover all areas and customers in your store. The definition of poor customer service is painted with a broad brush. It doesn’t take much to leave a bad impression causing 78% of Americans to not complete a business transaction or intended purchase because of poor customer service.
Strategically placed digital signage can:
- Answer detailed product questions
- Share positive product testimonials
- Show product demos
- Give comparisons with competitive products
- Engage your customers
- Build a relevant shopping experience
- Build your brand
Whatever you are, be a good one.
In summary, when you take the time to focus on your customer’s experience, such as virtually with technology like digital signage, you appeal to how your customers prefer to shop. Just like in the online world, buyers want control of their buying experience, and as you have seen here, that has transcended into the physical retail environment as well. Give yourself the advantage of recognizing this and creating that environment in your location.
Smart devices are training all of us to expect digital information at our fingertips. Learn more about how you can create an interactive customer experience in your store with digital signage. Read the blog post, “Data and Interactive Digital Signage.”