Focus 01: The Immediate Reality: Digital Integration

Over the coming weeks we will serialise into daily, bite sized snippets all chapters within our FOCUS series of reports that explore THE NEW ROLE OF PHYSICAL RETAIL.

Today’s topic is THE IMMEDIATE REALITY: DIGITAL INTEGRATION

One thing that everyone has learnt throughout this pandemic, is that you can’t predict the ‘future of retail’. But what you can do, is use this opportunity to force a re-think.

With the increased likelihood that consumers will shop brands across multiple channels, the expectation for seamless integration with all channels will be higher. Consumers will expect a consistent experience when shopping in physical retail and online, such as aligned delivery and returns processes, and continuity of services and loyalty schemes regardless of how and where a consumer shops the brand.

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The ongoing challenge for many brands and retailers to achieve a seamless, multi-channel shopping experience has been intensified by coronavirus. During lockdown there has been an inevitable surge of consumers shopping online, raising expectations for a consistent brand experience in store.

Many consumers will have experienced the following when shopping online during lockdown:

  • Visited brands websites for the first time and seen/ experienced new things, many of which they will have liked and enjoyed.
  • With more time available, explored brand stories further and spent time looking at new content or learning about products.
  • Been bombarded with brand ‘impressions’ on every channel, as brands and retailers embarked on a ‘digital land grab’ to capture available sales.
  • Exposed to even more styles and ranges with full product details and specifications immediately to hand.
  • Experienced an immediate understanding of stock availability.

Although exposed to rich content online, many consumers will have experienced frustration around product availability and delivery timescales. Some consumers will also have missed the added dimension of physical retail and the experience and interaction it provides.

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Depending upon legacy and existing systems and technologies, every brand and retailer faces different challenges to achieve digital integration, but there are a number of things brands and retailers can do to contribute to consistent experiences online versus in store.

  • Introduce or work towards live stock management, facilitating a full inventory view and allowing products to be moved around quickly to meet consumer demand.
  • Review online with offline purchase data to build a picture of consumer shopping habits within specific areas, providing insight to ensure the right product is available for the right consumer at the
    right time.
  • Ensure all shopping channels are consistent in relation to price, loyalty scheme benefits, collection and returns policies.
  • Weave brand values and personality into the fabric of physical stores, projecting emotive brand messages and meaningful product stories rather than overloading stores with screens displaying background noise.
  • Provide a best-in-class click & collect experience that goes beyond ‘picking up a parcel’.
  • View digital as part of an overall solution that is firmly connected to physical retail. This is critical to achieving growth and maximise fulfilment.

With a deep understanding of the pivotal role physical retail plays within the multi-channel customer journey, we can support you develop all aspects of your retail environments to encourage a rich, consistent brand experience that helps to deliver consumer expectations.

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As consumers start to return to stores, what can you do now to turn challenges into opportunities that maximise the comfort and safety of staff and shoppers and provide an experience in store that will keep consumers coming back.

Get in touch if you would like to arrange a virtual workshop with our founding Directors Adrian & Jenny to see how we can help you work through your opportunities, or download the full document HERE

Lucy

Lucy Moore

2nd July 2020