With the high-street facing stiff competition from online retailers, brands need to go above and beyond to retain customers in their stores. The shift towards online shopping isn’t necessarily a bad thing for retailers; it simply means that they must account for the change by adapting their strategies – but how can they achieve this? Here, booklet printing experts Where The Trade Buys, offer their insight into how retailers are using technology to retain customers.
Online meets offline
Digital shopping may have taken over, but some retailers have been combining elements of online and offline in their stores. Before the age of department stores and supermarkets, stores were small and independent, which made for strong rapports with customers. However, the emergence of large, modern stores made shopping a far less sociable activity. When online furniture and homeware retailer Made.com decided to take a leap of faith and open a physical store, they kept this concept at the heart of their plans. The recently relaunched Soho London showroom captured the best of both worlds, from QR codes to assist in locating products to staff lead workshops for customers to attend. By doing so, they struck the perfect balance between the offline and online world.
A tailored experience
Retailers have been using analytics in order to provide customers with a more tailored experience. The iconic jeweller Tiffany and Co. brought a breath of fresh air to the opening of their Covent Garden store, creating a ‘Style Studio’ where they sell more than just their luxury jewels. Homeware and accessories have been added to the range, to give the brand a better positioning in the everyday life of their customers, found within the exquisite on brand studio, finished in the company’s classic duck egg blue. Further features such as a personalisation station called #MakeItTiffany where customers can get jewellery items engraved. The aesthetic of the store also targets the Instagram generation of younger shoppers, and the store is an experience within itself.
Incorporating digital elements
The travel industry has made significant losses over the past ten years, as fewer people have been visiting high-street travel stores. With companies such as Airbnb and a plethora of agents taking their businesses online, physical travel agents have had to think of innovative ways to retain the holiday booking experience as an offline task. Virgin Holidays have taken this on board and created a string of concept stores to revitalise the booking experience. The stores include mocked up airplane cabins and virtual reality technologies to take customers on a simulated tour of a destination. By playing on sensory features, Virgin are capitalising on the ‘real’ elements which are far harder for digital to replicate. They have essentially gone back to basics, providing a friendly, visual experience in order to help trigger conversions. This exemplifies the fact that certain personalisation methods in retail are exclusive to the offline space, and 22% of younger and older families still book their holiday in store which proves the value.
A personalised strategy
All good retailers know the value of knowing your target audience. Companies such as Joules have analysed shopping trend data to find out when customers are most likely to be receptive to discounts and offers. By providing the relevant discounts, customers are more likely to feel drawn towards a purchase as the offer is based on their previous buying habits with the brand. Urban Outfitters use their reward scheme to dish out points to shoppers, even just by paying a visit to the store. Incentives like these can provide the fuel for a conversion, as well as a trip to the shops. Many stores offer memberships or points cards, which offer regular treats or an annual vouchers provide the motivation for a purchase, as simple as it might sound!
Retailers are using technology to their advantage by using it to create a more personalised experience for customers. By combining elements of the online experience with a customer service focused approach, retailers have been able to stave off competition from online only brands and stay afloat in today’s competitive market.