Driving In-Store Purchases through Digital Devices

By Nick Grinberg | 29 Jun 2015

Leveraging digital devices to enhance the in-store experience can help bridge the gap between the two retail worlds, as well as drive bigger conversions.

It’s no secret that smartphones and digital devices are becoming dominant in just about every consumer’s life. Consumers are increasingly leading digital lives and this is further impacting on how they interact with retail brands. This means more than ever that marketers and advertisers require change to their in-store operations to accommodate these new habits.

While it may be assumed that e-commerce is the way forward, in-store sales are still preferred, and should definitely not be neglected. This is where the online channels can assist in driving sales to bricks-and-mortar stores. In fact, Deloitte estimated that US$2.2 trillion in offline purchasing in the US was impacted by the internet.

By addressing the role digital devices can play in offline conversions, businesses can fill the gap in the online and offline world.

While this topic is quite extensive, here are numerous strategies/concepts to utilise digital to drive in-store sales.

Mobile Display Ads
Mobile ads aren’t just for creating impressions and driving traffic to online platforms. There is evidence to suggest that this influence affects in-store conversions as well. Through analysis of 83 mobile campaigns, a study found that these campaigns experience a US$2.57 incremental sales lift for every dollar spent on mobile ads.

Of course mobile display ads will work successfully with the best practices; well-designed creatives, and targeting the relevant audience. For driving in-store traffic, creatives that included a message showing the distance to the nearest business location has shown to be effective.

Geo Location Targeting and Services
Location based information and services in an app or mobile site is a great way to keep the user connected to the brand while on the move. These services become very relevant to the user when searching for a store closest to their location. These location services can essentially drive consumers in-store making it far easier to find the business location in relation to their geography.

The Digitally Enabled Store
Digital devices are impacting in-store behaviour. It is at a point where digital channels should no longer be separate to the business, but a part of it.

While many retailers have started to do this, there is still a gap between in-store and online, and perhaps bricks-and-mortar stores aren’t as digital savvy as consumers like. In fact, Deloitte found that 45 percent of consumers agree that digital makes shopping in-store a better experience.

The in-store experience is still important to retailers. Bricks-and-mortar stores will always have the physical advantage of atmosphere, the ability to touch and feel a product and easily establish brand trust.

While retailers may fear digital’s role in showrooming; the practice of examining products in-store and buying online. Engaging customers digitally may actually enhance the in-store shopping experience. Studies have shown higher in-store conversion rates for consumers who used a digital device prior to or during their store visit and also have a higher chance of spending more. Integrating offline and digital with some clever tactics can nudge showroomers to buy in store.

In-store pick up from online orders (click-and-collect)
Offering a service where customers can purchase online and pick up in-store is a great tactic to drive customers to a physical store. Allowing customers to use this free service and choose a convenient location is favourable for customers who want to avoid shipping cost and the pain of scheduled delivery. It creates advantages for retailers as the consumer has the opportunity to look around at other inventory while they pick-up their order.

In-store Wi-Fi
Allowing customers to engage with the brand’s digital presence while in-store is a great way to reverse showrooming. If offering free in-store Wi-Fi is feasible, stores can direct their customers to their web presence as they opt in, ensuring that the customer is shopping with their store and not a competitor. Telstra has found that 68 percent of Australians find available Wi-Fi useful for their purchase journey and that shoppers may even spend more than what they had originally budgeted.

To make the most of the Wi-Fi, remind customers of the service through signage and imagery around the store.

Devices available for browsing
Offering tablets in-store so users can browse the online channels is a great way to engage users. Stores can leverage tablets as they can provide more information about products, display product demonstrations and any other information that is available online. Tablets provide a more positive and engaging user experience in-store as customers can help themselves, and also have easy access to purchasing products online if they are not available at that moment in-store.

Coupons for in-store purchase
Coupons and promotional codes have the potential to create ongoing customer loyalty. By making this voucher coupon available for in-store redemption, it encourages customers to take action and close the sale in the physical retail location.

It is important to remember that even if a retailer carries out an effective strategy to integrate offline and online, these strategies will not be as effective if a mobile site or application is not optimised. Ensure that all online channels are well optimised for user experience to encourage customers to connect. Mobile applications and web pages should be fast-loading, quick and frictionless.

It is widely recognised the important role digital devices are playing in supporting physical retail. And now, it is more important than ever to engage the omnichannel shopper and create a cross-platform, online and offline customer experience.

The future of bricks-and-mortar is about focusing on the in-store experience, integrating digital channels with the advantages that a physical store has to offer. 

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