Thanks to the impact of COVID-19, brick and mortar retail stores are facing challenging times. In-store shopping has given way to online retail, as consumers prefer to shop from the comfort of their homes.
But many consumers still enjoy the experience of in-person shopping. By strategically employing technology, retailers can improve the shopping experience and bring more customers into their stores.
The Modern Evolution of Brick & Mortar Retail
Although retail shops are hurting, in-person shopping is not likely to disappear. Tony D’Onofrio, CEO of TD Insights, predicts that “by 2023, 78% of global retail commerce will still be in physical stores. As Walmart and Target have demonstrated, new digital services linked to a physical store can drive aggressive differentiated growth.”
In other words, brick-and-mortar stores will need to take an omnichannel approach to retail. This provides shoppers with multiple ways to access products and services, from websites to in-store technology.
The advantages of omnichannel retail go beyond boosting customer loyalty. Digital marketing empowers retailers to personalize the consumer experience and target new prospects.
Optimizing the In-Store Shopping Experience with Technology
How can technology enhance the in-store experience for shoppers? Some ways include:
- Offering in-store technology. It can be as simple as providing same-day high-quality printing services. For example, this allows people to add personalized notes or photos with gifts they purchase.
- Another option is offering optical character recognition (OCR) software. OCR lets customers scan physical documents into more usable formats. One application is helping customers who are visually impaired automate documents to read aloud.
- Visually engaging in-store digital signage is an excellent way for retailers to keep customers informed. Stores can advertise flash sales, contests, and product demonstrations.
- Offer in-store pickup options for online purchases. Coming into the store can save customers on shipping and is a good way to increase foot traffic.
Using Technology To Build Brand Loyalty
Today’s technology helps retailers build brand loyalty. When employed properly, this can also entice customers to shop in person.
Digital personalization is crucial to enhancing the customer experience. Your email system can engage a customer regarding online purchases and offers. For example, developing a customer perks program rewards them and builds brand loyalty. Use this system to entice local customers to attend special in-store events.
Personalization allows you to train store employees to know your customers’ names and preferred products or services. This creates an in-store experience that makes customers want to return.
Your sales team can improve the shopping experience by using the right technology. Effectively manage your online communications by employing automated responses to qualify customer questions. That way, all queries get instant feedback, and your customer service department can focus on the most critical calls.
You can also automate your email services to engage ghosted or inactive customers and leads with a drip campaign. This helps re-engage these users with product updates, customer testimonials, and other personalized information.
Social Media Strategies
Providing unique content and social media engagement are two top strategies for all brick-and-mortar companies today. It provides instant responses to online questions, allows you to poll or question your followers, and lets you share images that include in-store displays and interactions.
Make your content vibrant, engaging, and relevant to the time of year and the location of your store. Link your website whenever possible.
Develop a content “voice” that builds brand recognition. For example, some online stores use humor to respond to customers. Make sure your social media interactions reflect your company’s culture, mission, and style.
Keeping Customers Safe With More Digital Options
Using technology to personalize the customer experience means that more of their digital data is at risk. Optimize your store’s data security plan to protect shoppers and their information and purchases. Solutions include:
- Use encryption technology to secure all your point-of-sale terminals.
- Comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard to keep customers’ credit card data safe.
- Secure all email data with proper archiving solutions that protect your company from legal challenges. It can also save you on costs.
- Train employees on proper security measures for client data, safe login practices, and how to protect customers from social engineering.
Brick-and-mortar stores are at more risk today than ever before. However, using the right technology can bring more customers into stores and keep them engaged. Retailers that embrace this multichannel approach to shopping will win the day.