3 Best Practices for Retailers Expanding From Online to In-Store | Retail innovation


The good news in retail is that physical store expansion plans continue to beat closings. Here are tips for being successful as retailers adapt to the real world.

As the world reopens, retailers are focused on safely welcoming customers back and getting back to business. Many brands, including Digital Pure Plays, are relying on new customer journeys and new business models.

For example, Fabletics and Amazon use the vacancies in retail properties and start or expand their physical presence. To the surprise of many experts, plans to expand the physical stores continue to beat the closure. According to Coresight Research’s US store tracking, national retailers have announced 3,199 store openings and 2,548 closings so far this year.

The development from e-commerce brands to omnichannel retailers was measured. Many are new to the store and the reality of personal retailing. This requires that they develop new skills and competencies that suit customers everywhere and on their terms. Let’s examine some best practices for success as retailers adapt to the real world.

Understand consumer expectations

Shopping paths and buying psychology vary greatly depending on the customer journey. For many, shopping is a social connection and an interpersonal experience. At the same time, online shopping can be more convenient; Discovering products while browsing is a key factor that brings consumers into business.

Prior to the pandemic, 36% of consumers in the 2019 Oracle Retail Consumer Study rated discovery as a space to experiment and try new products and a top priority on their shopping journey. When state restrictions are lifted, consumers will also return to stores and brick and mortar retailers will need to have fully stocked inventory ready for the influx. When retailers can’t deliver, buyers take their wallets elsewhere. According to an Oracle Retail study from 2021, 34% of respondents said that out of stock was high on their list for poor shopping experience, and 27% went to another retailer.

Even when they return to stores, shoppers are still focused on health and safety. Today’s consumers demand a clean and healthy environment when shopping. This is not a problem that ecommerce companies have encountered online; however, this must be a top priority for brands that want to change. According to the same Oracle 2021 study, 80% of shoppers are willing to shop at a retail store as long as safety precautions are in place (e.g. wearing a mask, cleaning procedures, etc.), with 28% of shoppers reporting a lack of social distancing / Unclean surroundings would lead to a bad shopping experience.

Integration of retail technology

As digital brands expand their activities onto the high street, they bring a wealth of technology and insights with them. E-commerce offers countless opportunities for brands to personalize the shopping experience and bring convenience to consumers. Direct-to-consumer brands and Pureplay retailers need to figure out how to turn these strategies into reality in the offline world. Digital brands looking for a pivot need to rethink how their online strategy works in business. Using the right technology is critical, and choosing a robust POS and retail platform is an essential part of running your store successfully. It’s not that easy to add a cash drawer to your website and hope that everything goes well.

Regardless of the channel, customers want convenience in their shopping experience. As consumers will outnumber store workers by far, retailers looking to move will need to explore innovative options such as door.

Instead of spikes in web traffic, new brick and mortar retailers need to anticipate the ups and downs of demand in stores. These retailers should consider demand forecasting technology to predict daily traffic and get ahead of the busy year-end Christmas season. You need a system that leverages next-generation retail science and exception-driven processes to accurately predict demand.

Upgrade with employee training

Of course, with the opening of new brick and mortar stores, retailers need to hire and train new staff to keep up. For the further way, however, the employee training must go beyond the basics and contribute to the success of the stationary business. As vaccinations return to normal in retail stores, store workers who came on board during the pandemic will have to adapt to the growing foot traffic and demands that come with it.

Customers want to know where each product is located, what discounts are available, if there is more inventory, and which checkout is the fastest. You expect the employee to process every request and meet every requirement quickly. For example, according to the 2021 study, 44% of consumers rated unhelpful staff as the definition of a bad shopping experience, which shows the importance of knowledgeable staff.

Store workers need to be well equipped to handle any expectations and questions that come their way. Retailers moving from the online to the real world can help fill the gap by integrating mobile devices or tablets for their employees and providing them with information. These devices can help staff find items and inventory, highlight customer profiles and suggestions to better serve staff, and can even act as a point of sale for check-out. Training staff for this experience is essential so that staff can make the most of in-store technologies and leverage them to provide excellent customer service.

Getting started in brick and mortar retail can be an exciting next step for ecommerce brands, but it does require proper planning and preparation. Customers and their needs are different in each area, and retailers need to understand how to cater to both. Ultimately, when digital retailers step into the real world, they need to anticipate consumer behavior and needs in the store, incorporate technology to deliver a more seamless experience, and train their staff appropriately to make the entire customer journey worthwhile. With the world moving towards a reopening, it is time to step into (or back into) the real world and prepare for the future of retail

Mike Webster is Senior Vice President and General Manager at Oracle Retail

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