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Offline retail stays alive and offers online knowledge

One of the questions I hear most about offline retail is whether physical stores will become extinct. It is clear that digital has made us rethink the way we sell, but it is undeniable that physical stores continue to have its value. Although the number of people who shop through e-commerce is significant, it is still popular to make in-person purchases.

A recent survey by Google shows that three out of four consumers who find online retail information useful are more likely to go to a physical store because it increases consumer decision-making power.

It is also true to say that offline shopping has faced a harsh reality: the decrease in purchases. People are more selective when shopping and this has required businesses to be more creative when selling.

Data such as this led us to conclude that physical stores have had to reinvent themselves in order to survive. There is much to say for what online has taught us about traditional retail, but the same can be said for the opposite. 

For example, e-commerce sales results are good and its convenience seems to be an inexhaustible source of competitive advantages. However, in the face of so many players, how do you differentiate yourself and ensure a more lasting relationship with your customers?

Delivering a multi-sensory customer experience can be a good way to create this lasting relationship. The experience should fit the brand and the store should become more than just a shopping space. It’s a place where people can have a four-dimensional store visit. 

At the Samsung 837 store in New York, they create memorable moments through cooking classes where you can use their kitchen appliances, viewing virtual reality products and electronic art installations on display, and having shows on the big stage in the center of the store. By being able to stimulate multiple senses—touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound—Samsung is able to craft store experiences that are more than just shopping for new products. 

The availability of technology has made more nuanced customer experiences possible without the consumer having to move from their couch. The computer and cell phone combined with augmented reality offered new opportunities for Alibaba, the e-commerce giant. On Singles’ Day (the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday), the company used augmented reality to allow users to shop by experiencing walking through stores like Macy’s. Why not think about how to develop this creatively to promote purposeful experiences?

Brands and networks that operate in offline retail have also learned another lesson: Consumers, especially younger ones, cherish ease. They do not like to push carts. Physical stores need to rethink their layouts and their offerings. The more you can integrate customization and curation, the better.

An online search field, segmentation, filters, and algorithms. All these solutions were born precisely to meet this demand for custom content. And now, how to go beyond? Again, technology may be the answer! What if, instead of having to go to your website, customers can use the chatbot feature in an app to describe what they’re looking for? The bot would then return with a list of in-stock recommendations. 

It is possible to make an analogy with the promoters. Increasingly they are trained and oriented to caring about the personal characteristics, tastes and intentions of each and what will best serve them to deliver “chewed” the best indications.

Third teaching is preparation for periods of seasonality. Calendar business dates give breath for the physical operation to work during all months of the year. This is because, there is a whole preparation that allows the development of complete planning, considering the sales opportunities, the periods of low and the performance of the competition.

Just as in the store, e-commerce allows you to collect extensive amounts of data so that you can continuously improve your performance. However, things like team training and logistics may need more attention than usual during more high traffic seasons like the holidays. 

Then, physical stores will not go extinct. They will continue to reinvent through the influence of e-commerce and changes in consumer behavior. No longer regarding sales as the only outcome metrics will help you immensely.

By Felipe Arruda – Marketing Strategist

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