Going beyond same-day delivery to make online shopping convenient
As the retail sector continues to reimagine itself, a growing number of brands are beginning to embrace the shifting relationship between their online and physical stores. We’re seeing physical stores become a place to browse a brand, with the transaction itself moving from a physical till to a digital checkout.
In response, some retailers like MADE have adopted a store-as-a-showroom approach to their multichannel offer. Now, it seems some national brands, most recently M&S, are spearheading a new store-as-a-stockroom trend to enable same-day clothing deliveries for online customers. This is just one example of how brands can meet the growing demand for a seamless online customer journey.
Convenience is key
The move from M&S makes it the first big fashion retailer to introduce same-day delivery for clothing orders across the UK. Though the brand is set to close 100 of its 1000 stores, CEO Steve Rowe has dismissed the suggestion that its remaining store portfolio is an “albatross” around its neck. Instead, they are viewed as a means to boost its multichannel proposition and bring the convenience of shopping in-store, online. With convenience coming out on top as the number one driver for both in-store and online purchases through 2020, clearly M&S is on to something.
This is just the start. According to the Edge Retail Insight’s Winning Strategies: The in-store experience, online, up to one third of major channel store space could be repurposed to fulfill online orders in the next four years. Getting your hands on the goods the same day has long been an advantage of in-store shopping. However, initiatives of this kind demonstrate that online shopping can not only match but be more convenient than going in-store. This should be the vision for every retailer.
The in-store experience, online
Improving deliveries is a good start, but brands also need to find new ways to engage with customers virtually to match in-person customer service. Having a website alone isn’t enough to provide the personalised experience customers expect. Brands need to find a way to offer the same help, advice and recommendations consumers value from an in-store sales assistant.
One way they can do that is through guided selling. Though ecommerce is on the rise, there are still certain products that feel more convenient, or at least less challenging to buy in-store. Think about those high value products like a watch, or a long-term investment like a sofa, that consumers don’t make every day and require guidance to purchase. Adaptable brands are starting to experiment with technology that can provide tailored support to help make online browsing more convenient.
There are plenty of guided selling tools, such as on-site surveys and problem solvers, that enable retailers to better understand the needs of customers and point them in the direction of relevant or recommended products. By simulating the in-store consultation process, retailers utilising guided selling are able to empower customers to make considered purchases online with confidence.
Don’t get left behind
It’s undeniable that the temporary inability to visit stores has left a lasting impact on consumer shopping habits. With consumers demanding better online experiences, retailers must look to utilise all the space, experience, and tools they have available to rise to the challenge. The relationship between online and physical stores is changing, and brands must optimise their online experience by maintaining the best aspects of both - physical space, convenience and customer service - to keep pace with changing expectations and win the customer.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how guided selling can help your business, get in touch with the Ve team today.