3 good practices for retailers moving from online to store | Retail innovation

The good news in retail is that physical store expansion plans continue to overtake closures. Here are tips for success as retailers adapt to the real world.

As the world reopens, retailers are focusing on safely welcoming customers and resetting operations. Many brands, including digital pure play, are considering new customer journeys and new business models.

For example, Fabletics and Amazon are taking advantage of vacancies in commercial real estate and launching or expanding their physical presence. To the surprise of many experts, plans to expand physical stores continue to overtake closures. According to Coresight Research’s US store tracking, national retailers have announced 3,199 store openings and 2,548 year-to-date closures.

The evolution of e-commerce brands towards omnichannel retailers has been measured. Many are new to store operations and the realities of experiential retailing. This will require them to train new abilities and skills that meet the customer wherever they are and on their terms. Let’s explore several best practices for success as retailers adapt to the real world.

Understanding consumer expectations

Buying journeys and buying psychology vary greatly depending on the customer journey. For many, shopping is a social connection and an interpersonal experience. At the same time, online shopping can provide more convenience; discovering products while browsing is a key factor that brings consumers to the store.

Before the pandemic in the 2019 Oracle Retail consumer study, 36% of consumers saw discovery as a space to experience and try new products and a top priority in their shopping journey. Additionally, as state restrictions are lifted, consumers are returning to stores and bricks and mortars must have a fully stocked inventory ready for the influx. If retailers cannot supply, buyers will take their wallets elsewhere. According to an Oracle Retail 2021 study, 34% of those surveyed said out-of-stock goods were at the top of their list for a bad shopping experience, 33% said they weren’t willing to wait for it to happen. ” an item is back in stock before trying another brand. , and 27% will go to another retailer.

Even when they return to stores, shoppers are still focused on health and safety. Today’s consumers demand a clean and healthy environment when shopping. This is not a problem that e-commerce businesses will have encountered online; However, this will need to be a top priority for brands looking to pivot. According to the same Oracle 2021 study, 80% of shoppers are willing to shop at a retail store as long as safety precautions are in place (e.g. wearing a mask, cleaning procedures, etc.), with 28% of shoppers reporting lack of social distancing / messy environment would lead to a bad shopping experience.

Retail technology integration

As digital brands expand their operations to Main Street, they bring a wealth of technology and knowledge. Ecommerce offers countless ways for brands to personalize the shopping experience and provide convenience to consumers. Direct-to-consumer brands and pure retailers will need to figure out how to translate these strategies into real life in the offline world. Digital brands looking to pivot will need to reinvent how their online in-store strategy works. Using the right technology is vital, and choosing a robust point-of-sale and retail platform is integral to the success of in-store operations. It’s not as easy as adding a cash drawer to your website and hoping everything goes well.

Regardless of the channel, customers want convenience in their shopping experience. As consumers will far outnumber associates of stores, retailers looking to pivot will need to explore innovative options, such as self-checkout, BOPIS, link checkout, QR code checkout and other technological means of getting customers out of the door.

Instead of spikes in web traffic, new brick-and-mortar retailers will need to anticipate the ebb and flow of in-store demand. These retailers should consider demand forecasting technology to forecast daily traffic and anticipate the busy holiday season. They’ll need a system that uses next-generation retail science and exception-driven processes to accurately predict demand.

Upgrade with staff training

As new physical stores open, retailers will naturally have to hire and train new employees to keep pace. However, for the future, staff training will need to go beyond the basics and become an integral part of the success of brick-and-mortar stores. As vaccinations usher in the return to normal for retail, store associates who came on board during the pandemic will have to adapt to increasing foot traffic and associated demands.

Customers will want to know where each product is, what discounts are available, if there is more stock in the back, and which payment route is faster. They will expect the associate to process each request and respond to each request promptly. For example, 44% of consumers ranked unhelpful staff as defining a bad shopping experience, showing how imperative a knowledgeable staff is, according to the 2021 study.

Store associates should be well equipped to respond to all the expectations and questions that come their way. Retailers moving from the online to the real world can help bridge the gap by integrating mobile devices or tablets that associates can use, putting information at their fingertips. These devices can help staff locate items and inventory, highlight customer profiles and suggestions to help associates provide better service, and can even act as a point of sale for payment. Training staff for this experience will be imperative so associates can get the most out of in-store technologies and leverage them to deliver a great customer service experience.

Drilling into brick and mortar can be an exciting next step for e-commerce brands, but it takes proper planning and preparation. Customers and their needs are different in each area, and retailers will need to understand how to meet both. As digital retailers enter the real world, they will ultimately need to anticipate in-store consumer behaviors and demands, integrate technology to deliver a smoother experience, and properly train their staff to ensure that the whole of the customer journey is worth it. As the world moves towards reopening, it’s time to step into (or come back) the real world and prepare for the future of retail.

Mike Webster is senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Retail

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