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  • Writer's pictureBhagyeshwari Chauhan

Online vs In-Store Shopping: How Can Retailers Close the Gap Between Online & In-Store Shopping

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

In today’s world, the word “shopping” doesn’t only mean the purchase of a product. Rather, it’s an entire customer experience. Right from the point when you enter a store, browse through its various sections, evaluate a number of different products in the same category, wait in line at the payment counter and finally walk out with a bag in hand. The smoothness of the entire process encompasses the consumer experience.

With technology growing leaps and bounds, the retail sector has also seen a makeover in how people purchase products. As more and more people start purchasing online, there are still a few who prefer the traditional shopping method of a brick and mortar store. While brick and mortar store offers the benefit of a fitting room, a specialized help etc. the online shopping is quick and more convenient. Now it’s up to the retailers to find a mid-ground between the Online vs In-Store Shopping conundrum and give their customers a holistic experience.

Benefits of online shopping

The digital world brings one a huge variety at the click of a few buttons. Now you can sit and purchase something from the other end of the world, which has all been made possible by frictionless shipping.

Not only is making purchases more online more convenient, with door to door delivery and facilities like a complete refund and quick exchanges, the customer base is slowly shifting towards the digital platforms.

Online shopping also offers one opportunities to compare prices and pick the product at the cheapest rates available. This not only benefits the consumers economically but also keeps a competitive edge alive in the market.

The consumers also find it very easy to be notified of price drops and sales if any, on an online platform, since it is always accessible through a phone; unlike in retail sector where shoppers won’t know of an offer unless they visit the store.

How online retailers can deliver a seamless customer experience

When it comes to shopping, gender, age, habit, geophysical location, income, personality etc. all play a very important role. Thanks to the new technologies that have been cropping up every day, the gap between physical world retail and a brick and mortar store is shrinking. But a major factor that has cropped up with the advent of digital is the experience of shopping. The more seamless and convenient it is, the more a retailer will be ahead in the game.

Although brick and mortar stores are going to be around for a while, there have been few retailers that have successfully combined various aspects of shopping online and offline, to give their consumers a more holistic experience. This has given rise to the phenomenon of webrooming.

It is slang for a practice of browsing products online and then buying them at a physical store.

Online vs In-Store Shopping: Closing the Gap

To keep up with the current trends while trying to bridge the gap in Online vs In-Store Shopping, here are a few ways retailers can give a brilliant customer experience-

  • Understand your customer’s expectation

The expectorations have gone up. They are now higher than ever.  71% online shoppers expect sales assistance within 5 minutes of a request and 31% expect services immediately. As more and more shoppers gravitate towards online platforms, it is important for you to know their habits and behavioral patterns.

As in-store representative can gauge the consumer behavior and guide those on the spot, digital sales representatives can fall back on behavioral analytics to read online consumer behavior.

In fact, by using an intelligent engagement engine, you can do even better.

With predictive targeting, once can identify the prime candidates and assist them during various shopping cycles to ensure a purchase.

  • Use data to maximize engagement and customer loyalty

A site analyst collects data every day. But to use that to its full potential and in a way, that yield results is up to you. Technology today has paved way for professionals to collect the immense amount of data on each person that visits their website. Now retailers are in a position to offer customized experiences based on a consumer’s preference, browsing patterns, items in the kart, mode of payment, geophysical location etc.

It is also very important to choose a channel of engagement. For example, it will be smart to send a voice-chat invitation to a consumer after offering high touch assistance.

  • Go Mobile

Be accessible anytime, anywhere.

Aside from shopping online, consumers also use mobile devices for in-store research. If you see a shopper browsing your website while she/he is in your store, they are more close to making a purchase decision. Now if a consumer engagement were to happen at this point, the chances of converting a purchase would be higher.

While this is an ideal situation, mobile is a weak spot for many companies. E-commerce professionals must try improving the mobile experience for a fully integrated online customer experience, only then will the customer journey be complete for online shoppers.

  • Rich media engagement

One aspect where the brick and mortar stores champion is the touch and feel of the product.

Many customers want to observe a product before they purchase it. While they can do so in a retail outlet, digital faces a challenge for the same.

One of the easiest ways to so is by showing a video of how the product works. In this, bloggers play a major role.

As the technology progresses, retailers can fall back on augmented reality etc. to give the consumers a more holistic experience.

Are you also looking to leverage big data analytics to bridge the gap between your retail outlet and digital platform? Contact us at Datahut, your big data experts.  


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