Swedish retailers’ omnichannel strategies are being let down by the store, which feels ‘disappointing’ and less personal than shopping online. That’s the latest findings from a survey that iVend Retail conducted in the country in conjunction with our Swedish partner, Retail Store.

Many of the challenges Sweden’s retailers face echo those we uncovered in Europe when creating our most recent report, The Omni-Illusion, which shows the international scale of our industry’s struggle to connect consumer experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints.

The good news for retailers is that online, they are using customer data successfully to personalize and add value to the ecommerce experience, and this is having a positive impact on digital engagement; a separate study by Invesp has found that almost half (45%) of online shoppers buy more from websites offering tailored product recommendations.

However, the closer retailers get to the customer digitally, the further away it can make them feel physically. A third of the Swedish consumers we surveyed said they were more likely to be disappointed by the in-store experience compared to online, rising to almost half (42%) among those aged under 30.

So what is it that makes shoppers in Sweden feel disconnected from bricks-and-mortar? Knowledge of their individual behavior and value is absolutely key here; 1 in 5 people we spoke to claimed they feel like a retailer’s friend online, but anonymous in the store, while a quarter believe the store is outdated when compared to the much more personalized service they receive when shopping online.

The challenge for Swedish retailers is clear – and it’s a challenge that is being laid down to retailers in many other countries, too. Get to know store customers better. It sounds simple enough, but many organizations lack the omnichannel technologies needed to bring digitalization into physical retail encounters. Other retailers, meanwhile, have some of the tools to do the job, but don’t know where to start.

Connecting seamlessly to each and every customer, wherever they are and whatever they want, requires a great deal of agility. Rather than trying to second guess the individual needs of shoppers before they come into the store, retailers need to focus on giving sales associates the power to tailor their service around the customer. And that means putting data into their hands.

The most effective thing retailers can do to make the store a stronger part of the omnichannel experience is to give front-line staff access to customer data, and technologies that enable them to do something with that data, wherever they are serving the customer.

By investing in technology like mobile POS, they can enable store associates to see what shoppers have previously purchased and make tailored recommendations; know their contact details to order something for home delivery when the product isn’t available in-store; capture their payment details to quickly run a transaction through when they’re in a hurry. All things that add value to the customer experience, and make bricks-and-mortar a more pleasant environment, but which also increase shopper spend.

Ultimately, consumers choose channels subconsciously based on their needs at that point in time. They won’t think about whether it’s online or in-store – they focus on whether it is convenient, easy, and offers them good value. Indeed, our research revealed that 58% of shoppers in Sweden alone do not differentiate between channels.

Retailers in Sweden and beyond need to create strategies around this idea of channel agnostic shopping, to offer the fluidity that consumers crave. The store, by its, nature is the most difficult element to integrate; if they can make it relevant to what customers are experiencing, they will truly become omnichannel.

Download “The Omni-Illusion: why do customer connections disappear when shoppers reach the store?” Report

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