Biggest Challenges for Retail Stores in the Digital Age

Technology has revolutionized the way things operate and what customers expect from retailers. Shopping in-store is still an experience shoppers love, but with technology and the immediate nature of the Internet, the modern customer tends to expect a better shopping experience inside and outside the store. This understanding is causing retailers to search for new ways to engage these consumers across all channels to improve engagement and boost profits. However necessary it may be, going digital has its challenges for retailers.

Fear

40% of retail executives said the biggest challenge they face in leveraging business information is their ability to improve the cross-channel customer experience. Balancing between emerging digital trends and preserving the core brand across all channels can be a scary task.

Some retailers fear creating a digital experience and how it will mesh with existing branding if it’s not executed well. Don’t be afraid, but embrace the possibilities to strengthen your branding and excite your customer base by reviving the brick & mortar shopping experience. Leveraging both what works in online shopping and brick & mortar shopping can help create a super-sized shopping experience for the customer.

Showrooming

In the Digital Age, more and more retailers are fighting the “showrooming” problem. Some visitors use brick and mortar stores to view products, compare prices with competitors while in-store and buy them online later. Best Buy struggled with this problem for a long time and it majorly impacted sales. To combat it, they offered in-store price matching for deal savvy shoppers.

Smaller retailers can’t always afford to go this route and match every price. As a small brick & mortar store, ask yourself what you are offering that’s so distinctive that customers will want to buy from you? If you can’t answer this question, you might be in trouble. If you’re lacking a compelling angle or specialty, find one.

Almost half of the shoppers who comparison shop with their phones inside brick & mortar stores still end up at the cash register. What can you do to keep more of these sales inside your store? Whether it’s browsing e-commerce stores, buying from price comparison apps or using an app that you offer to your customers, shoppers will continue to pull out their phones while in your store. As Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly put it, “once customers are in our stores, they’re ours to lose.”

Privacy

Some retailers and customers reach a standstill when it comes to privacy. Retailers want to better understand customer behavior and gather as much information on them as possible. Most customers want to do everything they can to protect their privacy.

Recently, I went through my personal email, counted how many retailers had my email address and were regularly emailing me. The number I arrived at shocked me. In the course of shopping in-store or online, 108 retailers have my email address and fill my inbox with email blasts on a frequent basis. To answer the question probably on your mind, no I don’t have a shopping addiction, but everyone is asking for your email these days. Getting spammed by retailers too frequently is annoying. Once a customer realizes the hassle of giving it out too freely, it’ll be hard for anyone to get it. Some people will participate in anything on the chance they’ll get a better deal, but be mindful of customers who will choose to opt-out of your programs in the future if you abuse their inbox.

Don’t focus on knowing everything you can know about every customer. Request only necessary personal information from your customer. ShoppinPal only requires a customer’s email address to use our mobile commerce platform. Use customer email addresses wisely and don’t repay them by overloading their inbox. Eliminate extra digital sign-up steps. Make it easy for your customer to maintain privacy while participating with your brand across channels.

Accessibility

Free in-store Wi-Fi is a feature most consumers are coming to expect. It’s especially desired for retailers offering in-store mobile solutions or mobile optimized websites. It sounds like an easy feature for retailers to provide, but actually it isn’t.

A lot can go wrong when installing Wi-Fi in a store or office. One retailer was shocked to see its original estimate of a few million dollars rise to more than $100 million because its IT department lacked experience to gauge the costs. Putting Wi-Fi into a large commercial environment involves a series of complex design decisions and requires planning and coordination. That’s why every brick and mortar retailer hasn’t done it yet.

One of the biggest challenges facing our digital world is security. Retailers must diligently protect and monitor personal customer information. There’s over $166 billion in e-commerce, and it’s a challenge to protect sensitive information against security threats and fraud.

One of the best approaches to protection is layered security. There are many threats and avenues being used by fraudsters. One technique used in layered security is device recognition. Device recognition is the ability to know with an incredibly high degree of certainty that the computer or smartphone or tablet is one that is authorized to access an account or protected service. This method can help catch suspicious transactions before they take place.

Effectively Using Data

So you’ve got all this general customer data… now what?

According to Oracle, 93% of retailers said they believed their organization is losing revenue opportunities, as much as 10% of revenue per year, by not being able to fully leverage the information they collect. Just simply having data will have no impact on your organization. You have to have a data strategy to use analytics effectively.

Mobile provides more digital data than any other channel from in-store browsing, purchases, push or email notifications, wish lists, product searches, etc. As you examine this data from customers, strive for new personalized ways to improve engagement. For example, one retailer found that personalized promotional offers have a 29% higher unique open rate and 41% higher click rate than non-personalized offers, so the retailer enabled its mobile app to send customers personalized discounts. Use analytics to learn from your customers and be willing to adapt.

Technology can create some challenges for retailers, but how you leverage technology to solve them will define your business success and your bottom line.

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