The shopper’s path to purchase

What is your customers’ path to purchase? Do they come directly into your store to purchase? Do they complete the whole buying journey online?

The chances are that they are in the growing percentage of shoppers who use a combination of ecommerce and physical channels. Even before the global pandemic, a very significant 68% of all ‘shopping occasions’1 started online. That is, the shoppers did some or all of their research and comparison via a website, and sometimes made their final selection and payment online, before finishing their shopping journey at a store.

That number increased during the pandemic of course, with many more shoppers moving some part or all of their transaction to digital. Hybrid transactions grew in popularity – transactions such as click and collect/BOPIS, curbside collection and driveby are all examples of the transactions types that grew in popularity when stores were closed to visitors, or simply seen as too high risk to visit.

Even as stores start to reopen, these habits have become so ingrained over the past year that they are likely to stay. Some shoppers will be nervous about returning to stores, and the risk of crowded environments. Others will have got used to the time saving and ease of starting their path to purchase online.

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One plus one is not enough

In order to support these changed habits, one thing is clear – it’s no longer a case of having a digital presence plus a bricks and mortar store. It’s about having a tightly integrated retail ecosystem that incorporates digital and physical into a single, seamless customer experience. It’s about supporting the growing trend of ‘digital-first’ paths to purchase and delivering the same outstanding customer service no matter where and how the customer completes their transaction.

The ecosystem powering rapid change

For iVend customers like Pioneer Foods in the UK, this tightly integrated ecosystem allowed them to rapidly adapt during the pandemic and to grow their business when many around them were struggling. They were quickly able to adapt from the instore shopping that had been so popular with their customers, to an online ordering system, with contactless pickup in the car park of one of their stores.

If you’re considering building a unified retail system, or moving into the online world for the first time, you might think you have a long road ahead of you. Think again. iVend Digital Commerce is specifically designed to help retailers build a digital retail solution or integrate their existing channels with unprecedented speed. Our cloud-based Digital Commerce solution connects iVend Retail and Magento Commerce to help you reduce your time to market and reap the benefits of a unified system faster. There are no long, drawn-out consulting engagements or development projects, just a seamless pairing of your online sales with your retail system software.

Customer experience – a tightly integrated ecosystem offers a consistent and streamlined customer experience across all platforms. No matter what your customers’ selected path to purchase – online, click and collect, curbside collection, driveby or in-store – you’ll give them the positive experience that generates larger basket sizes, loyalty and advocacy.

Synergy – a tightly integrated system generates synergies between online and digital – each element enhances the other, such that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. For example, customers find you online, start a purchase digitally, go to the store to collect and make a further purchase whilst in store. The total transaction is increased by having multiple, unified channels.

Common stock pool – with a single view of your inventory across the entire business, you can move stock between channels simply and easily. For example, you might have an online sale to sell any excess stock from physical stores, or run a campaign to promote slower moving items.

Real time inventory updates –  with stock data visible in real time, you get accurate product availability data that helps you avoid missing out on sales, from either channel.

Rapid adaptability – in 2020, I saw how our iVend Digital Commerce customers were some of the best placed in the retail industry to adapt rapidly to utilise their online and hybrid channels to survive and even thrive in difficult times.

The retail world has changed for good, and digital-first transactions are here to stay. If you want your retail business to be able to thrive in this mixed ‘path to purchase’ world, talk to us about how to tightly integrate your physical and digital stores into a single, synergistic, integrated retail ecosystem.

1 Thinkwithgoogle 2018

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