Printing giant HP has urged European retailers to innovate with the in-store shopping experience in order to expand and grow in today’s current economic environment.
Kobi Elbaz, director, client solutions, HP Personal Systems Group, said the accelerating rate of technological change has dramatically altered consumer buying behaviour. Elbaz argues emerging trends outside the store, such as increased interaction with touch-based technologies, are creating new demands on retailers to create similar in-store experiences to meet shopper expectations.
HP is advising retailers to integrate the most effective aspects of online shopping with their mobile and in-store offerings in order to provide a seamless customer experience that encourages shopper loyalty and increases sales.
Traditionally, retailers have invested heavily in bricks and mortar stores, but there are now multiple channels to integrate. According to new HP research, more than half of the top 50 European retailers use more than three channels to sell direct to consumers. However, shoppers’ ever increasing expectations for seamless cross-channel shopping experiences means they need to better connect the dots between their mobile, online and in-store offerings.
According to HP’s research, nearly all of the top 50 European retailers (98%) have a physical store presence, whilst just 86% have a website. Even more surprisingly, more than a third of European retailers (34%) offer a mail order catalogue, although just 28% have a mobile commerce app and 30% have an m-commerce website. Some European retailers are also experimenting with Facebook as a channel, although just 2% are actively offering F-commerce capabilities.
Despite the significant investment going into multiple channels, many retailers have not yet connected the various elements to take advantage of additional sales opportunities. For example, according to research from YouGov, 78% of multi-channel shoppers found price offers available online which were not subsequently available when they went in-store.
HP points to industry findings which highlight consumers are today much more adept at shopping cross-channel, but argues many still choose to complete their purchase in a store. 51% of shoppers, in fact, say that they research online and then buy in-store. Furthermore, 74% of smartphone shoppers made a purchase as a result of using their smartphone. Of these, 76% have purchased in-store, 59% online while only 35% have made a purchase via their smartphone.
HP recommends retailers create a more seamless cross-channel experience in-store by firstly investigating how to better integrate data from their expanding number of channels. Secondly, retailers much be increasingly ‘context-aware’ and create personalised experiences in the store which are much more aligned to their online and mobile offerings. Finally, businesses must incorporate consumer-friendly technology experiences in-store. For example, touch-based screens for sourcing product and store information and innovative use of digital signage.
Elbaz said: “It’s clear that the experience in the physical store is critical to a shoppers’ final purchasing decision and retailers must combine the best of in-store, online and mobile services and offerings to provide seamless cross-channel experiences in-store. Many retailers are realising the integration of all these elements will create unique shopping experiences that will encourage customers to browse, learn more about products, and encourage them to return and buy.”