In a recent article with Retail Information Systems (RIS), ShopperTrak’s Chief Product Officer, Chetan Ghai, wrote about how traditional retailers might benefit from taking a cue from the retail behemoth, Amazon.
Ghai’s piece, The “Amazon Effect:” How Data and Analytics Help Retailers Compete, lays out best practices for retailers looking to learn from what Amazon gets right, a seamless path-to-purchase. It also offers advice on how to leverage technology and analytics to compete with online retailers in a way that Amazon cannot: by “providing an engaging, in-person experience in the physical store.”
Originally published in Retail Information Systems.
Goliath has a new name, and it’s Amazon. It is omnipresent, from news headlines to the familiar logoed packages stacked outside front doors, and it has revolutionized the retail industry. Jeff Bezos’ behemoth brand is known around the world for its speed, supply chain accuracy, endless inventory and low prices. By efficiently managing operations, Amazon maintains the highest market value of retailers in the United States, while continually altering shopper expectations across retail.
To meet increased shopper demand, brick-and-mortar retailers should leverage Amazon’s best practices while remaining focused on what Amazon cannot achieve: providing an engaging, in-person experience in the physical store. Effectively harnessing data and analytics is a smart way to start.
Complete the Conversation
Customers expect Amazon to provide a comprehensive shopping experience — offering relevant content, personalized recommendations, a robust inventory, simplistic delivery and easy returns. And Amazon does so by understanding its shoppers via comprehensive data and analytics, and managing all of the touch points where consumers interact with its brand.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, specifically, the separation between online and offline shopping is blurring, and must be thought of as one connected conversation, regardless of the situation.
For example, while some shoppers start their path-to-purchase on a mobile device, others start in-store. Amazon connects the dots easily by carefully measuring and analyzing its customers’ shopping patterns and then ensuring their shopping experience adjusts to meet their ever-changing needs; retailers who want to compete should leverage new and established technologies to garner similar insights and enhance the customer experience.
Offer a Meaningful Omnichannel Experience
For brick-and-mortar stores to stand up to Amazon’s many bells and whistles, they must adapt online capabilities to be available in-store. Amazon’s product recommendations based on shopping history or similar shoppers’ behavior are a hallmark of the site. How can an online feature like this make the jump to in-store?
Mobile technology: Retailers can employ a variety of technology to generate customer engagement. Relevant, personalized content such as product recommendations can be pushed directly to mobile devices through a variety of tools, including in-store Wi-Fi, beacon technology or a provider such as shopkick.
Kiosks: Stores can recreate some of the enticing features of online shopping, such as zoomed-in photos and videos of the product in action, through kiosk stations. Not only do they offer more detail on products, but they allow stores to collect valuable information on what products are engaging shoppers in their store and for how long – and more.
Product experts: Stores that equip associates with technology such as iPads turn them into on-demand concierges that can exceed the online experience. For example, they can order an item that may not be available in-store, or showcase additional versions that may be available online. Regardless, this, on the spot service creates highly valuable, seamless experience.
Understand the New Reality
While online shopping has experienced significant growth in the past decade, its proliferation is slowing. In fact, brick-and-mortar stores are where the majority of purchases are made. According to Forrester, more than 90 percent of the $3.2 trillion in annual retail revenue comes from physical store locations.
However, an omnichannel environment has emerged, where shoppers expect brands to meet their increasingly high expectations – no matter where they are or how they choose to shop.
Through data and analytics, the David’s can elevate the shopping experience to further their existing edge over Amazon and all e-commerce retailers. To do so means re-thinking the role of the store in today’s complex and constantly changing ecosystem, leveraging relevant technology and embracing new strategies to tell a complete story.