Brick-and-mortar stores have been under pressure with the onslaught of online shopping for several years but the COVID-19 pandemic created a new set of challenges for retail stores. With fear of the pandemic and social distancing, sanitising and mask-wearing being the norm, retailers are facing a new battle to attract customers back to stores whilst providing a safe, engaging, entertaining and personalised experience. How do brick-and-mortar stores attract and retain customers whilst creating an engaging experience that competes with their online experience?
According to Chris Day, managing director of Moving Tactics, South Africa’s leading digital signage solutions company, the store of the future will employ integrated technologies and data, similar to those used online, to tailor the in-store experience to a specific customer.
“Retailers need to think about how they are going to get the online mindset into their stores. The future of retail will be about using multiple touchpoints, such as non-touch interactive digital signage screens, touchscreens, promotional screens and virtual queuing to develop an understanding of what customers are engaging with in-store; what they are doing; wanting to know; and prefer to purchase. Similar to online searches, data gathered from these various touchpoints will be the foundation of organic customer-influenced content,” says Day.
Taking this a step further, data gathered from the in-store digital customer journey and experience, combined with online data gathered from customers in a specific local geographic area, could provide retailers with detailed information on preferred and sought-after products, services and information, which in turn enables the retailer to develop a customer-curated experience in their store. Not only are customers being offered a more tailored and personal experience but retailers are able to plan their stockholding, staff complement, and promotions more effectively.
“Linking mobile search to these elements adds another layer of service efficiency. Whilst searching for a product or service, customers could be directed to their closest store, advised on what documentation will be required and allocated a placement in the virtual queue to see a consultant. Following on from the virtual queue allocation, the consultant would be equipped to address the customer’s queries based on their online search. It’s about providing customer service on a completely different level,” adds Day.
No matter how large the retailer network, customer-influenced content targets customers with product- and service-specific information that negates the need for blanket advertising. “The new digital in-store customer journey not only provides tailored, customer-influenced content but also applied retail analytics and big data to enhance the retailer’s customer experience and optimise business operations,” concludes Day.