Remember the days when the way you found out about products was to go into a store? The store was where you went to get information about what products were available, in what sizes and colours and options, what it looked like, where it was made. You went into the store and asked the staff.

Now, in the information age, with data about anything and everything at our fingertips, it is much rarer for a shopper to walk into a store with no knowledge of the product they are looking to buy.

In Australia and New Zealand, a whopping 63% of all shoppers said they research a product online once or more before going to the shop to buy.

This changes things dramatically for the store, its staff and the way they interact with shoppers.

The customer journey from awareness to sale no longer follows a single path – there are multiple ways that a shopper can engage with a brand. As they walk across the threshold into the store, they could be right at the beginning of their journey, or an ‘informed’ shopper whose needs are very different. It’s essential that stores can offer the right approach for these different types of customers.

Shopper journeys

Customers might be ‘showroomers’ – coming into the store to find out about the product – touch it, feel it, try it on – before browsing online to find the best price.

For staff, this means that there is a window of opportunity to win the sale in-store or to ensure that it is their online site that the customer goes to. They need to focus on engagement, value and loyalty.

Others do their research online before coming into the store. This journey, sometimes referred to as ‘webrooming’ means that the customer enters the store highly informed, pretty certain of what they want, and simply wanting to see the product to confirm (or not) their choice. The challenge for the staff is to recognise and engage with these customers to give them the final pieces of information they need to decide to buy in-store.

A third type of shopper journey is ‘Click and collect’ – the shopper has not only browsed, but purchased and paid online. This shopper is likely to want to simply get in, get their goods and get out again – fast.

With so many customer paths, delivering the best and most appropriate service for each customer type can be a minefield for the retailer.

Mobile POS is one of the most powerful and flexible tools they have in negotiating this minefield. So how does mobile POS help retailers meet the demands of the ‘informed’ shopper?

Firstly through engagement – getting staff out from behind a desk, into the aisle and opening up conversations with shoppers. Staff can identify where shoppers are in their journey and what is needed to guide them down the path to a sale.

For showroomers, engagement enabled by Mobile POS can deliver useful product information, build the store’s brand image, and engender loyalty. It gives staff the opportunity to find out what is needed and offer incentives to ensure that the final sale is made at their website, not their competitor’s.

Engagement is also key with the informed shopper. Here, though, it is about Mobile POS giving staff visibility of online browsing and the information that the shopper needs, along with opportunities to upsell. Mobile POS allows staff to process the sale there and then, ensuring that it’s not lost between the shelf and the checkout.

Customers who have paid online have a different need when they come to the store – they are likely to want to get in, get their goods and get out. Mobile POS plays a crucial role here too – streamlining the process of identifying the customer’s order and rapidly and conveniently checking them out, getting them on their way as a happy customer who will return for their next purchase.

Retailers understand that there is no such thing now as a single, clearly defined shopper journey. The key to success is understanding the different journeys, being able to identify the different types of shopper in your store and using tools like Mobile POS to offer the best possible service to each.

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