Are physical stores still important?
The consumers buying behaviors are constantly changing and, we well know, ecommerce is becoming popular and popular but why is that? The only benefit for consumer when it comes to shopping online is the flexibility of the channel and the possibility to always find the lowest price, so that the real differentiation between the different website such as Amazon or Alibaba is done by pricing and availability. Instead, according to the Digital Shopper Relevancy Report of 2014 done by CapGemini, 72% of the analyzed consumers consider physical stores as the best driving purchasing channel which means that brick-and-mortar point of sale are still relevant in the path to purchase of the consumers. In fact, physical stores are perceived as the most direct touch point with the brand, where consumers undertake personal interaction with the sales staff. The point of sale today is also considered as the visual projection of a brand useful for the retailers to express values and convey a lifestyle directly to the consumers and not towards a display on which we are distracted by banners and other sorts of digital advertising.
In addition, is becoming popular the practice called “showrooming”, a practice for which consumers enter the shop only to see the items or try them on before purchasing. This threat has been turned into an opportunity to all the retailers that has applied the new formula buy online with the possibility to pick up the item for free at the store and also the chance to return it in exchange of money or a new substitute good.
Last, physical stores are the best channels to collect reliable offline data about their habits within the physical point of sale. For example, thanks to new and retail technologies it is possible to know the amount of pedestrian traffic outside as well inside the store, or the clients’ reactions respect the merchandising display and it is even feasible obtain an idea about the satisfaction of the clients during the shopping experience. Therefore, thought the analysis of this data and the personal information collected within the physical point of sales, retailer can deploy target and customized strategies to better the relationships in all the touchpoints online as well as offline.
Taking into consideration fashion retailers that wants to attract their consumers in the physical stores has to develop a consistent and well integrated omni-channel strategy for which means that all the different touchpoints must be interconnected and aimed to support each other instead of creating a competitive environment. According to the fashion magazine Moda.es the best tool to drive consumers to the brick-and-mortar stores is making available the “click and collect” or “the click and collect and return in-store” options for the online shopping. In fact, the Omnichannel Retail 2015 Intelligence Report done by L2 and RichRelevance demonstrate that consumers who go to the physical store to collect or return the item purchased online then they end up spending the 107% of their initial purchase increasing therefore the in-store net sales.
Again supporting the importance of integrate the different touchpoints, fashion retailers has to provide the consumers that enter the shop with the possibility of consulting the website page or of using the store application in order to have more information about the desired items and if they are available in stock. In fact, according to the report cited before, the purchases offline are driven for a 64% by the digital channels but at the same 82% of the consumers while shopping online want to prove that the desired items is available offline because the experience they can undergoing the physical stores is unique and not nearly similar to complete the purchase online.
In conclusion looking at the future of fashion retail, itseems more and more consumers centered. In fact, the main focus of all the new innovation are based on the aim of meeting the current customers expectation while making the efforts to understand their upcoming needs and already satisfy them. The future goals of fashion retail, according to the White Paper by Motorola Solutions, is going to be offer the best service possible to the consumers instead of focusing on sales. In the future consumers are going to gain more and more control over their purchases till the year in which clients are going to be able to self-checkout their purchases thanks to the introduction of in-store portable devices provided with application that can substitute the traditional POS.
In addition, the in-store experience is going to be extremely personal s a one-to-one conversation can be, because the integration of analytics collected from the online touchpoints together with the offline insights about the buyers behaviors, will allow the brands to establish a real intimate relationship and as a consequence communication is going to be exceptionally easy and effective without the need of stressing the consumers constantly trying to catch their attention in fact, is going to be the clients who wish to go to the brand in order to undergo amazing, memorable experiences. Of course the use of omni-channel and technological deceives is going to be 100% taken for granted in order to provide a smooth flow of information within the all department of the organization and hugely improve profitability satisfying customers and make them loyal to the brand.