There are many ways that retailers integrate eCommerce with offline shopping experiences, such as through services like “Click and Collect” and social media/email offers to sell more products and bring more people through the doors. These methods are now commonplace and should be (but often aren’t) the norm for retailers. Click and collect especially has been a real growth area over the last few years with retailers cottoning onto the fact that buyers want to browse from the comfort of their own home.
Below are 5 slightly more innovative ways that retailers are coming up with to integrate eCommerce with offline shopping experiences-
1. Ordering Kiosks
These have now become a fairly common sight in UK high streets usually with retailers who have a large variety of potential products for shoppers to choose from, such as pharmacies. They make it easy to check availability and allow users to browse selections without having to take up too much staff time.
With the rise of tablet computers, an ordering kiosk is something that is now accessible to smaller retailers too, as relatively low cost hardware can be configured to connect to their eCommerce website to allow visitors to browse and configure products in store.
2. Browsing Hubs
It is a blurred line between the Ordering Kiosks above, and a set-up more likely to be called a “Browsing Hub”. Browsing hubs take the ordering kiosks to the next level and require a slightly larger budget. Audi opened Audi City in Mayfair in London which allows visitors to view all their cars which could not possibly all fit into their limited Central London showroom space.
Below is a video showing how the browsing hub works to integrate eCommerce with offline-
Audi City pushes the concept to an extreme by displaying the results on a large screen to deliver an immersive browsing experience.
Another corporate monolith, Nike, allowed visitors to their New York store to configure different variations of their products and then use a smartphone app to picture themselves wearing the newly designed gear. This was great for generating Tweets, and posts on Facebook and Instagram, which helped to generate a social media buzz around one of Nikes new lines.
3. Social Proof
Pinterest is a powerful force in eCommerce and offline retailers are now using it to generate sales too. Online many studies show that Pinterest generates more sales for the traffic it generates than other social media sites, and by displaying some of that Pinterest Kudos on products in store, retailers are hoping the benefits will be felt offline too.
Though currently I’m only aware of the social media credentials being displayed on products in America and Scandinavia, it seems this is a trend that will inevitably find its way to the UK in the next few years too.
4. Leveraging Data
There’s been an explosion in the use of the term of “big data” recently, and to integrate eCommerce with offline shopping is a great way to leverage some of this data to benefit your retail business offline. Retailers can use data generated by their own eCommerce website and also the data generated by search engines such as Google to help them stay ahead of the curve.
Keyword search demographic data can help retailers determine which keywords are being used by people who fall within your target audiences, and also to gain a better understanding of who is your target audience.
Online it is easier to test variables and see what works on your target audience and what doesn’t too, and by speaking to your customers in the language that resonates with them, you will find a better way to connect with them offline as well.
5. The Experience
A company called Under Amour who make sports clothing in the US recently opening their flagship store in Shanghai. In doing so, they created one of the best examples of a store moving from a traditional retail approach to one of brand reinforcement and storytelling.
As I’ve not visited I can’t verify but apparently the experience they have created is said to be similar to the effect of walking into a packed sports arena. The visitor is then shepherded through to watch an advert on a large, high definition screen featuring many well known athletes. It finishes with a chance for the user to go through to the part where they can actually buy some products, though this section consists mainly of screens not much different (possibly the same) as their eCommerce website.
This whole concept may seem unrealistic for a smaller retailer to match a large American sports brand, but this brand reinforcement may be a closer to how the offline retail experience will be thought of for all retailers in the future.