This is especially true for younger customers who demand a seamless omnichannel experience and top-notch service. This need only grows as they move through their buyer journey. To adapt to changing shopping preferences, retailers need to rethink current store concepts.
We believe retailers can take their store experience to a whole new level by combining digital and physical channels to create a hybrid store design. If retailers want to stay ahead of the competition, they need to consider four key shifts in customer needs:
1. Fast and convenient self-checkout
The younger generation is getting used to the speed and convenience of the new purely digital players such as Gorilla, Flink, Getir or Gopuff. In order to do justice to this, in-store purchases should be as quick and uncomplicated as possible.
However, meeting these expectations is not easy for traditional retailers. You cannot integrate new technologies into your customers’ buying process.
However, this does not automatically mean an expensive and time-consuming investment. Introducing a mobile self-checkout system is an easy way to quickly and significantly improve the in-store shopping experience.
For example, using mobile data capture technology, customers can simply scan products from their smartphone and check out in minutes – without having to queue. Nothing stands in the way of cash register work, instead employees can concentrate on more important tasks such as customer service.
Overall, this creates a pleasant shopping experience, which leads to higher overall customer satisfaction.
2. Added value for smart devices
In addition to speed and convenience, today’s retail customers expect innovative and exciting in-store experiences. By using technologies such as augmented reality or mobile data collection, retailers can offer their customers personalized and value-added services in their stores.
Mobile apps in particular will play an important role in the hybrid shopping experience, as they are a versatile platform to complement stores with digital offers. For example, customers can easily access useful product information.
Thanks to fast and powerful barcode scanning capabilities, customers can quickly check a product’s provenance, nutritional values or environmental footprint. This type of information is becoming increasingly important as today’s consumers care about supply chain transparency.
Equally important, mobile apps allow retailers to offer highly personalized product recommendations and personalized discounts. Intensive personalization not only increases customer loyalty, but also drives sales.
3. Technology-Driven Customer Support
In view of the ongoing deep integration of digital services in retail, the question naturally arises as to what role individual employee-customer interaction will play in the future.
The key to answering this question is that today’s customers expect excellent service everywhere – including in retail. After all, personal help from store associates is the main reason why consumers still prefer physical stores to e-commerce.
And that means customers expect quick and competent answers. Therefore, store employees must always be prepared for questions about product features, discounts or stock levels.
This is particularly true in areas such as consumer electronics or cosmetics, where employees can help with many product-related questions.
In the future, retail associates will need to focus even more on delivering meaningful customer interactions – actively supporting them in their buying process.
Smart mobile devices help them achieve this goal and take service quality to a whole new level. To answer customer questions, employees on the go can easily access product information by scanning a product’s barcode.
Not only does this significantly improve interaction with employees, it also makes them more agile because they no longer have to go to the computer to get detailed product information.
4. Seamless omnichannel experience
In the future, retailers will need to carefully organize both digital and physical channels. Customers are increasingly demanding a seamless omnichannel experience that truly blends e-commerce with physical touchpoints.
The reason for this is easy to understand: an all-encompassing approach offers customers the best of both worlds, combining the sheer convenience of e-commerce with the personal touch of in-store retail.
As a result, services like BOPIS – buy products online and pick them up in store – are becoming increasingly popular. They allow customers to shop anytime, anywhere and give them the flexibility to get what they want.
In short, the needs of retail customers are changing significantly. In response, retailers are having to overhaul existing store concepts. To meet the growing need for fast, convenient and innovative digital services, the integration of digital channels and physical stores is a top priority.
Changing requirements also change the role of store employees. For example, instead of worrying about checking out, they will focus more on customer service during the buying process.
However, customer-facing apps and mobile data collection will have the biggest impact on how a retail store will look in the future. By using this platform, retailers can offer their customers an exceptional digital experience in store and across all channels.