As consumers were prohibited from carrying out their usual shopping habits during the Covid-19 pandemic, they turned to hybrid retail. Consumers were left with no other option but to increase their use of digital and omnichannel services such as home delivery, pickup point delivery or shopping via social media platforms to continue receiving the items they needed and wanted. Shopping via social media has remained the preferred destination for customers despite businesses reopening, and is expected to remain. It’s convenient for consumers to browse on social media platforms and in a few clicks purchase desired items. However, customers are still wanting to explore the hybrid retail options when shopping. From collect and pickup point delivery to buying online picking up in store (BOPIS), providing multiple return points in both online and physical spaces is essential for consumers.
The growth of hybrid retail model highlighted that in-store experiences are still in demand, so the experience of returning and collecting goods must be a seamless and positive experience as well. According to SOTI’s research report, From Clicks to Ships: Navigating the Global Supply Chain Crisis 2022 Report, 52% of global consumers said they are more likely to shop with a retailer that offered multiple return points. This means that retailers must cater to each customers shopping preferences. To please those that prefer in person shopping experiences, retailers will need to give consumers options like printing return labels at home to drop off at a delivery company, or simply taking their e-receipt to the counter at the brick-and-mortar store to return in-person.
Even Primark, which historically steered away from entering the ecommerce world, has now started its journey into the online world, launching the trial of a click and collect system in 25 stores. This reiterates that many popular retailers have succumbed to customer expectations and adopted ecommerce strategies.
Connecting the retailer and customers to improve shopping experiences
As our jobs go hybrid, we’re expecting adjustments in other areas of their lives as well, with shopping habits being among them. With a variety of technologies and options in place for consumers to use, it is crucial for retailers to excel in the hybrid business model, as competition is high and consumers do not want to feel limited in how they shop.
So, what do customers seek for from retailers when shopping via online?
To achieve this a one size fits all approach must be avoided at all costs. The demand from customers to have information about their purchases at their fingertips is common. For retailers, this involves providing confirmation of purchase, checks along the way – from packaging to getting onto the truck and delivered to their house – providing information on which delivery company has their package and details on delays. It is crucial to keep the customer in the loop at all stages of the delivery experience.
To connect in a variety of ways
In-person, online or with a partnered company – ensure options are present and easily accessible.
Customers want retailers to provide convenience and options for their shopping experience with the ability to shop in-person and online. For example, when SOTI asked if consumers would consider using any alternative delivery options in 2022, 63% of surveyed consumers said they would consider in-store delivery and half said they would consider delivery to a designated drop-off point.
Although customers are aware of the supply chain crisis and have experienced the ramifications, they still want to have their goods quickly as well as be able to shop in the way that suits them best.
Improving accessibility to create excellent customer journeys
Nowadays it’s a common practice to be able to visit retailers’ website on mobile, tablet and desktop devices. When a retailer fails to support these mediums, customers become frustrated and make their feelings heard by taking their money and loyalty elsewhere. In fact, 48% of customers say that when companies don’t make their websites responsive on mobile phones, it makes them feel like the companies will care less about their business.
Not only do businesses risk losing shoppers if sites are not optimised for mobile use, but Google rewards companies who make their websites mobile friendly. 83% of people do their online shopping through mobile devices, and half of all Internet shopping traffic is done on a mobile device. Retailers that fail to adapt could be missing out on a large proportion of sales.
For in-store shopping experiences such as click and collect, retailers must fully utilise mobile technology with RFID, kiosks, scanners and tablets, so that customers can approach a store and easily receive their orders. It is key for customers to feel that their wants and needs are acknowledged by retailers and that the method they receive their orders is on par with one another, both in-store and at home.
The future of retail is upon us now
Currently retailers are able to blame the supply chain crisis for delays in deliveries and lack of stock. However, as supply chain issues begin to resolve and issues become less noticeable to consumers, businesses will have to face the fact that they do not have sufficient technology, processes and systems in place to offer a robust hybrid retail business model.
The hybrid retail approach allows businesses to build long-term and loyal customers from the very start of their journey with a brand. In doing so, retailers need an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution in place to ensure devices are secure, connected and managed effectively to accommodate the ever-changing customer demands and ensure that technology sufficiently meets such expectations. Integrating an EMM solution gives companies full visibility into its operations to ensure productivity is maintained and device downtime is reduced. If businesses want to invest in mobile technology that efficiently works with RFID, kiosks, scanners and tablets, its best to leverage one that provides insight into the status and performance of all business-critical device deployments.
Businesses who fail to create a hybrid retail experience and meet consumer demands are in danger of falling behind its competitors who go above and beyond customers expectations.
Stefan Spendrup is VP of sales in Northern and Western Europe at SOTI