With Black-Friday weekend and Cyber Monday in the books and Christmas around the corner it’s easy to bring up the subject of shopping habits. One that quickly comes to mind is the battle between shopping in a physical store or shopping online. It is widely known that e-commerce is on the rise and reports show that it will continue to do so for the years to come.While some have claimed that in-store shopping is in decline. It is the combination of e-commerce and digital tools that has started to make things really interesting lately. For instance 2/3 of shoppers note that they have made purchases in the last year that included multiple channels. What this means is that they could have either tried or sampled a product in store to later buy it online. Or they could have researched the product online to later buy it in store.
Once you start digging in shopping statistics like this you will naturally find statistics stating how one method of shopping is better or more effective than the other. But what is more interesting is you will likely find more data on how one can leverage the other. For instance, did you know that 3/4 of customers who find your product online are more likely to visit the stores in person.
Now I would say it is rather easy to pinpoint the main advantages of each shopping method. The sensation of physically holding or trying something on is so far hard to replace in an online format. And the time efficiency and smoothness of ordering something online is hard to beat.
As E-commerce emerged and grew the online retailers looked to traditional retail and mimicked a lot of the elements. Words like ”shopping cart” and ”checkout” are just metaphors to give the customer of recognition and relatability. With e-commerce now taking a bigger slice of the pie, maybe it’s time to look the other way and learn how E-commerce can inspire better in-store shopping.
E-commerce, has been fast to adapt new tools for analytics, payment systems and delivery. Solutions like Masterpass, Paypal onetouch and Klarna have made payments incredibly easy smooth and new delivery methods like urb-it and uber-rush have made deliveries way faster. And while physical store surely benefit from these things it is the incorporation of digital tools and that will start to make things really interesting in my mind.
To measure the amount of clicks and views or quickly finding and suggesting related items is nothing new to the online world but what if you could bring these tools into the stores more effectively? For instance measuring how many times an item is picked up, and how many of those pick ups are turned in to actual purchases. Or analyze customer flows and suggest relevant items on the way. Maybe Virtual Reality- can be used to change the color of the sweater you’re trying on, without you having to bring the same sweater in 5 different colors to the dressing room. Point being; data and digital technology have brought advantages to online stores for years, maybe it’s time to start thinking more about what these tools can do in physical stores and merge the two experiences.
A few digital agencies are doing interesting experiments with this. They build experimental stores where they use technologies like VR, beacons, and digital scales etc. to measure things in the store and gather all the data online. That is one way to use the digital methods in-store.
To conclude, when you do your Christmas shopping this year – or any other shopping for that matter – Your experience is likely to include digital elements, whether you do it online or in-store. You’re likely to experience the same brand or retailer in both a digital and a physical format. The question is not which of the two ways is better, but which retailers are doing a better job of merging the two experiences. Because those who do, are likely the ones that will come out ahead.