We live in a world where omnichannel shopping is now the norm. The e-commerce sector is predicted to grow by an extraordinary 67% to 2021. The popularity of e-commerce and m-commerce (mobile e-commerce) can be attributed to the convenience it offers users. Consumers can shop from the comfort of their home or on the go, use pre-saved shopping lists, receive tailored offers according to past purchases and, of course, opt for home delivery.
So how can the bricks and mortar channels compete? We explore how future success can be achieved through traditional channels…
Engage the consumer
Brands and retailers are today trying to find a balance between transactional selling and engaging with consumers and creating experiential spaces that they want to return to. Social media has a large part to play in allowing consumers to engage with brands on a much more personal level. Despite this ‘one-on-one’ virtual interaction, many shoppers still prefer to go shopping in person. It continues to be considered a social experience that can satisfy emotional needs. If customers visit the store as a way to relax, brands and retailers can augment the experience with value-added features.
For example, a complimentary cup of coffee at the entrance, or an integral café or relaxation area within the store, improves the consumer experience and creates a more informal and personable feel. What’s more, this is likely to maximise the time that shoppers spend in store. Smaller local convenience stores are likely to gain advantages through adding a local touch and authenticity to make their stores and consumer experience unique. Experience is everything.
Shoppers can benefit from touching, tasting and smelling items before they make a purchase – the multi-sensory experience remains one of the main pull factors to physical outlets. And again, retailers can enhance this in innovative ways. Furthermore, the availability of data and use of technology allows store layouts to be optimised to create a favourable and convenient shopping experience. Store ‘heat maps’ can also be introduced to show hotspots and blind spots in the shop, which could help retailers to improve the layout.
Protect, preserve and show off product
Brand owners and retailers must tailor packaging solutions to support the consumer experience. For example, crystal clear recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) is an ideal material for showing fresh food to its best advantage, whilst offering preservative and protective features. Rigid rPET packs offer the consumer a 360-degree view of the item. And whilst this is also achievable online in a virtual sense, it still doesn’t beat getting close up to the item for most consumers; especially where food is concerned. Choosing a steak at the supermarket, by studying more than one pack to find the best looking cut available, is something we’re all familiar with!
The ability of rPET to transport food safely throughout the supply chain is also something that can work in a store’s favour. It gives the customer control over getting their package safely from store to home, without the worry of whether it will turn up in one piece if ordered online and delivered by a third party.
Think of the future, not just today
Technology is fast paced. Advancing technology can begin to solve changing customer needs in stores and provide the same level of customisation that is offered online today. Beacons and interactive boards will increasingly be introduced in to stores to enable features such as recommended products and customised promotions based on shopper history (plus enhanced in-store navigation). This can be reinforced by intelligently incorporating and utilising data from existing e-commerce channels.
To support this, brand owners and retailers have the option to utilise contemporary look packaging to help consumers navigate their stores. It’s an area where increased collaboration can benefit both brands and manufacturers; designs are generated from consumer feedback that results in further brand engagement once launched. The process can be a catalyst to enhancing engagement with brands. Recent LINPAC examples are natural grass print trays and newsprint fish packs, both of which act as navigation aids by providing differentiation to similar packs.
The age of personal commerce is upon us. To succeed in the online evolution, the store environment must think ‘people-centric’. It’s all about understanding consumer needs and their evolving journey. By doing this, retailers can tailor tactics, messaging and layout to attract and retain shoppers in the future.