Improving offline experience with online knowledge is all about learning from the explosion of ecommerce and using it to build on the instore interactions. In this post, we’ll look at five different customer experience issues with bricks-and-mortar stores and see how our online knowledge can help to fix them.
Customer Experience Issue 1:
“I waited ages, only to find out they didn’t have my size”
If you were shopping online, this would take a matter of seconds to establish – providing an online stock-check instore that a visitor could access themselves (rather than through an assistant) would free up staff and avoid customer disappointment. Not only that, but it would also offer an opportunity to a visitor an alternative to their choice; whether that alternative is another store in the vicinity which does have their size, or some similar items which this store does have their size, this is definitely a better option than losing a customer to a nearby store!
Customer Experience Issue 2:
“I’ve already put together my basket online, now I have to do it offline too!”
So why can’t an online basket be “transferred” to a physical store? If a visitor can identify themselves via a username as a particular online shopper, this should enable a store assistant (who should know the store better) to go and gather the visitor’s whole online basket. The huge advantage here for the retailer is that they can start to get an offline view of an online visitor so despite the potential need for more staff instore, the brand value of starting to build a more rounded customer view could be very great indeed.
Customer Experience Issue 3:
“I don’t buy things because I don’t want to carry them around all day”
If an online basket can be transferred offline to a physical store, why can’t an offline purchase be transferred to an online-esque delivery slot? And assuming that there’d be similar thresholds to reach in order for the service to be free, this could also present an additional upsell/cross-sell opportunity that might otherwise be missed.
Customer Experience Issue 4:
“When I have vouchers to spend but I forget them and end up paying full price”
But what if there were iBeacons alongside the products on display that could signal your device to remind you of money-off or multi-buy discounts? Not only could this help to secure purchases on “browsing” visits, but also drive the customer behaviour a retailer wants to encourage. This is, after all, the purpose of most voucher/discount schemes but if a visitor never uses them and they go out of date, their value has been lost entirely.
Customer Experience Issue 5:
“Stuff I can find easily online is a nightmare instore”
So for our final point we look to something that may be a little more involved than the previous four; what if iBeacons could be used in a visual fashion to indicate the presence of, or direction to, a certain item in a physical store? And perhaps this could be made apparent if a visitor was looking at the store through the camera lens of their smartphone or tablet, with the appropriate app enabled?
The purpose here is to replicate the online “Search” function, something that has become so integral to what we do online that virtually every browsing session starts with it. And with wearables such as Google Glass only likely to grow in the coming years, visual stimulus to purchasing offline can be linked to digital means evermore easily, without even needing a visitor to hold their device.
Hopefully these five ideas have given you a sense of how improving offline experience with online knowledge doesn’t necessarily have to be a big technological step forwards, but rather a simple application of common online principles of commerce.