Returning Shoppers and Blended Expectations

shoppers in mall w masks feature

Imagine shoppers discovered your brand online during the pandemic and became regular buyers. They immediately fell in love with your look, the accuracy of your product recommendations and your digital channels as a whole.

But after entering your store for the first time since the pandemic, they can’t locate what they want, the associates are of little help, and the checkout process is painstakingly slow. In this scenario, the customer’s brand perception plummets, and you may even lose them altogether.

With omnichannel shoppers being more loyal and more eager to spend, mending fragmented experiences is crucial. According to Adyen’s Unified Commerce Index, customers that shop online and in store buy twice as often as single-channel shoppers and spend 30% more per purchase.

It’s clearly time to ensure your store experience is on par with digital. But with so many possibilities from contactless checkout to improved app experiences, knowing where to start is a challenge.

To make your omnichannel investments pay off, place your initial focus on store product discovery. If you can make it as enjoyable and simple to find the right items in person as it is online, you have a better chance of winning over shoppers. Conversely, if it’s tricky or inconvenient, any investment in a better store checkout experience, for example, may go unnoticed.

What Omnichannel Product Discovery Looks Like

The following values should be top priority as you bolster omnichannel product discovery, especially ahead of the next chapter of pandemic recovery: Safety, convenience, personalization and speed.

Shoppers will prefer to limit their time in stores as much as possible. By making product discovery more efficient, you can facilitate greater sales while providing the store experience shoppers are looking for.

Here are some key steps to take:

Digital tools to streamline browsing: Offer tablets or screens for shoppers to search store inventory, with the same filtering capabilities you provide online. After selecting the items they want to view or try on, an associate can bring it out.  Another option is to allow shoppers to save items of interest on your app, and receive location-based notifications directing them to it in the store.

Smart mirrors in fitting rooms: Mirrors that can scan what a shopper tries on and provide relevant product recommendations create delightful, personalized experiences and help her discover more of your inventory without leaving the fitting room. This is one of the best ways to bring on-screen recommendation carousels in store.

Train associates for experience continuity: By ensuring that your store staff has full awareness of your online experience, they’ll be better positioned to provide the same level of service. On top of offering more helpful support, they’ll have a better sense of trending items and products that are frequently bought together to help them provide more informed recommendations.

Connect store checkout to online customer profiles: When shopping online, customers’ full purchase history is saved to their profile and used to make recommendations. You can do the same in stores. By connecting store purchase data to online profiles, you can provide even more on-point recommendations for omnichannel shoppers.

Enable product ratings: By allowing shoppers to rate products they try on in stores, either on your app or on a store device, you create another way to learn about their preferences. Use this information to better inform inventory assortment, keeping the most relevant items in stock and highly visible.

Improving the Store Experience = Fostering Loyalty

A true omnichannel experience blurs the lines between online and store. Wherever a shopper interacts with your brand, whether it’s at home or in person, they want to feel recognized, seen, and heard. When you get this right, customers are more likely to stick around.

According to research from the Aberdeen Group, retailers with strong omnichannel customer experiences retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to just one-third of retailers that deliver weak ones.

In an unpredictable and volatile retail landscape, customer loyalty is more valuable than ever. If customers are already engaging across multiple channels, continuity is the key to keeping them engaged in the long term.

Today we’re at a unique juncture, where the rise of ecommerce has conditioned shoppers to expect more from the store experience. It’s time to embrace that omnichannel imperative.

Ofer Fryman is the CEO and Co-founder of Syte