Now more than ever, it is important that retailers tailor the shopping experience to provide exactly what their customers want. In-store interactions, as well as online shopping experiences, must run smoothly and be straightforward for buyers. The number one priority of businesses should be to understand that customers are looking for convenient, seamless shopping experiences, whether they shop online, in physical stores, or a combination of both. There are a number of ways to ensure that convenience remains king.

Reprioritising click and collect

Click and collect is a shopping function that allows customers to purchase items from a store’s website, and arrange a time that suits them to pick them up later in a local store branch. It is a convenience that shoppers demand, and one of the basics that omnichannel-ready businesses should have well underway by now. Around the world, click and collect is becoming an increasingly popular option for customers who wish to have a convenient and individualised shopping experience.

Customers refuse to be kept waiting, and while click and collect appears to be a great option to reduce customer waiting times, the recent CitiXsys 2017 European Shopping Report suggests that the quality of this option has decreased significantly over the last year. In 2016, 81% of UK shoppers described the click and collect process as ‘easy’, but in 2017, this figure has dropped to 33%. This is not ideal, especially when you consider the fact that a third of European shoppers surveyed choose click and collect due to its convenience.

In order to keep up with click and collect’s growing popularity, and customers’ increased expectations, is essential that organisations invest in continually improving this vital retail service. Retailers need to allocate greater investment, planning and support into their collection strategies, in order to ensure that the experience is not compromised for either the collecting customer, or the regular store customer.

Future-proofing the digital store

The role of the store is diverse and not limited to one singular role or responsibility. The store has evolved over the past few years to become more than just a point of transaction for shoppers. Multi-tasking becomes key as shops are becoming mixtures of customer service centres, fulfilment centres, inspiration stations, validation points as well as delivery locations as seen through click and collect. Naturally, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for retailers to deliver a seamless, integrated experience for their customers.

However, it’s not all bad news for retailers, because companies like CitiXsys are constantly developing new technologies to provide connective, satisfying experiences for consumers. In this way, it is vital that retailers embrace technology and begin to roll out digital investments widely, in order to empower their businesses and enrich the in-store shopping experiences. As it stands, there is a missing link between the physical advantages of bricks-and-mortar stores and the digital flexibility and familiarity offered by e-commerce, and retailers must take the time to figure out how technology can be used to fill this gap.

The future of shopping is not an ‘either/or’ situation, but rather, it’s a future that depends on integrating the online store into an omnichannel retail experience to meet customer expectations across all channels, and at every stage of their shopping journey.

Making in-store shopping smooth and successful

Within the 2017 CitiXsys survey, results showed that 51% of customers shop primarily in physical stores. It is essential that retailers focus on making the in-store shopping experience more convenient. Even in the advent of online shopping, the physical store is still of vital importance.

46% of respondents to the survey stated that they believe free Wi-Fi would significantly improve the in-store experience while a further 36% suggested in-store kiosks or digital help desks would improve the overall smoothness of shopping in physical stores. Access to information has become key to convenience, as customers want to be able to find information themselves, using free Wi-Fi and in-store kiosks to fulfil this desire.

Consumers want their bricks-and-mortar experiences to be more convenient, and parallel to the ease and speed with which they shop online. The responses from the 2017 CitiXsys survey all seem to suggest that a memorable shopping experience is characterised by convenience, relevance, access to information, and appropriate use of data that benefits the customer. In-store shopping must then take advantage of new technologies to provide shoppers with the ideal service they crave.

Therefore, in order to create the ideal shopping experience for customers, retailers must acknowledge the growing popularity of omnichannel shopping and focus on providing a convenient, seamless shopping journey. Whether consumers shop online, in-store or in a mixture of the two, businesses have to put convenience first and ensure that all interactions satisfy their customers, regardless of the platform on which they take place.

If you’re interested in understanding more what it means to evolve in an omnichannel world, and the importance of keeping convenience as the king, please check out iVend Retail blogs

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