The recent bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us, one of the world’s most established retail brands, once again puts the focus on the crisis experienced by physical stores in the face of the e-commerce push. Statista forecasts suggest that e-commerce sales will grow 72% in the next 3 years.

However, and despite this consolidation, conventional commerce still has adherents among consumers. A recent Mood Media report notes that 78% of shoppers prefer physical stores because of the ability to see, touch and test products. In addition, 67% want the items they buy at that moment, without the waiting times for home delivery of online stores.

78% of consumers prefer to buy in physical stores because they can see, touch and try the products

Although consumers still prefer the conventional channel for their purchases, stores will soon cease to be a location where products are purchased only. According to a recent study by Ipsos, in the next 5 years a new consumer profile will increase its presence by 78%: Shopper 5.0. These customers seek simplicity in purchasing processes through new technologies. Ipsos points out that brands must go one step further in omnichannel and direct their efforts towards the Infinity Channel, integrating the different shopping channels and offering new experiences. According to this new trend, Tiendeo.co.uk establishes three fundamental keys that will revolutionize the store experience in the coming years.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is one of the technologies most used by physical stores when it comes to attracting consumers.Thanks to AR, buyers can know if a particular piece of clothing will suit them without having to go to the changing room, or if a piece of furniture would fit well with their living room decor. IKEA is one of the retailers that bets on this trend. In addition to the room planners on its website, last September the Swedish brand launched IKEA Place, a mobile application for iOS and Android to help customers visualize how a specific piece of furniture would look in a particular space.

Smart purchase

The data from Mood Media reveals that 55% of consumers use their smartphone in a physical store, especially to compare prices and search for offers. However, retailers can take advantage of this behaviour to streamline their customers’ purchases in the physical space. This is the case of Hointer, a company that brings the smart showroom to retail. Hointer proposes stores where only single samples of each garment in stock are put on display. Customers scan QR codes that appear on the clothing labels with their devices and select the size they want to try. The garments are then sent directly to the dressing room, where the consumer is presented with two channels, one through which the requested clothing enters and another through which the clothes they do not want are sent back. Finally, the payment is made through the smartphone itself.

The store as a testing space

The first step in ensuring a consumer’s satisfaction with the product they buy is the full conviction that it meets their needs. For this reason, more and more brands are aware of the importance of users being able to test items in the store before taking them home. This is the case of Leroy Merlin, who has introduced various DIY workshops in their European stores, where participants can learn techniques for repairs and basic installations in their homes with the products that the brand offers in their establishments.

The management of new technologies and the online channel, as well as its integration in-store for the generation of new experiences, paves the way for establishments that go beyond spaces in which products are acquired. Buyers are choosing to spend more leisure time in stores, which allows retailers to connect with these customers, gaining their loyalty and increasing the rates of conversion.

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