I read through an interesting study that hit my inbox via Retail TouchPoints. It provided current customer insights around online shopping search, specifically for apparel. The survey looked at the opinions, preferences and behaviors of 800 shoppers, coming to the conclusion that despite the overwhelming number of people who shop online, there are challenges that need to be addressed, as well as opportunities for physical stores to attract the ecommerce crowd.
Reading the findings, I’m seeing that clear communication throughout the online shopping journey is missing, despite having a captive audience. Businesses can have shopper analytics but still lack the ability to translate analytics into customer insights. For instance, after browsing online, shoppers were frustrated by trying to add an item to their cart, only to learn that it’s low in stock or on back order. This is not unique to online shopping of course, with supply hurdles tripping up brick and mortar stores as well.
However, in-store digital signage presents an opportunity to bring the best of ecommerce into the store. There are low-cost solutions, such as cameras and sensors, that are relatively low effort but give deep insights about in-store shoppers. With the right strategy in place, these insights lead to relevant, even personalized suggestions on digital displays — this can be any digital display including large format displays, tablets and mobile devices. Why show Shopper A inexpensive men’s accessories when, as a loyal customer, she’s “known” to spend most of her time in high end women’s footwear and the kid’s department. Analytics will show the success of these messages, and the digital signs will allow you to adjust and optimize on the fly. A win for the shopper — the messages made sense and were relevant. And a win for the retailer — higher sales and greater customer satisfaction, which of course leads to loyalty.
One of the major benefits of in-person shopping is that it’s tactile — shoppers can interact with the product seeing how it feels, how it looks when worn, what the true color is. Being able to interact with the product while getting relevant suggestions or complementary items enhances the shopping experience and surpasses the benefit of shopping online. This is particularly true with loyalty customers — having knowledge of their preferences, dislikes and behaviors allows for true personalization.
At times, shoppers are loyal to a certain type or brand of apparel; I know I won’t easily divert from purchasing my next pair of Nike Air Zoom running shoes. But even then, if my size or style is out of stock, relevant suggestions, substitutions or add-on products are often welcome. And the majority of shoppers agree with this sentiment. It’s even frustrating to shoppers when the suggestions aren’t relevant enough. In fact, 76% of those surveyed said that they’ll “sometimes or always buy a substitute, even if they’re shopping with a specific apparel item in mind.”
This all circles back to clear reflection of customer insights. Content, messaging and information on in-store digital signage can be updated in real time manually, or with the right strategy in place, have any amount of triggers that fire off updates to what’s displayed. This can involve near term factors such as current promotions or sales, but it can also bring in conditional factors like in-store demographics, weather, available sales associates, current inventory and more.
Onto receiving the product. According to the same report, 86% of shoppers prefer to have online purchases delivered to their home versus picking up in the store. Ease of pickup, clarity at pickup and speed of service surely play a role in this customer insight. One of the major benefits of in-store shopping is the immediacy of receiving your purchase. No waiting, no tracking of packages. But the order pickup process can vary across locations, leading to frustration (ever see order pickup coupled with the customer service desk?), and in general can be a confusing gray area. But BOPIS, curbside pickup and receiving items in the store is still popular, so now is the time to solve the in-store pickup process so it’s a more appealing option. Consistently, the majority of BOPIS customers make additional purchases when picking up their items. In-store order pickup can avoid the dreaded “abandoned cart” with ecommerce as well.
The digital solutions vary to meet your order pickup goals. Despite modernizing the experience, digital displays allow you to communicate pickup procedures, shoppers’ places in the queue, order confirmation, wait times and more inside and outside the store at curbside. Self-service or check-in kiosks deliver automation that frees up sales associates for order preparation or other customer experience-focused jobs.
Although this survey didn’t go into product discovery and price checking, it’s certainly worth noting how digital plays a role in the store. The shopping experience in the store can be significantly enhanced with digital solutions such as in-aisle or end cap tablets that shoppers — most of whom are certainly tech savvy — can use to look up curated reviews, recommendations, where to locate the product on the shelf and scan an item for an accurate price check.
As online challenges grow, there are many opportunities for in-store engagement with shoppers who are returning to stores but whose expectations have changed. Check out some of our case studies and see how forward thinking brands such as Kiehl’s and LEGO are responding to customer insights with in-store digital signage.