How Retailers Can Bridge the Gap from In-Store to Online

The last decade has seen the majority of people making the swap from in-store to online shopping. Whether it’s this week’s food shop or the must-have outfit for weekend, you can shop for just about everything online today. But why is the online experience so much more popular? In this piece, Rees Flynn, head of retail, WiFi SPARK, gives RetailTechNews his opinion. 

Everybody has their preferences when it comes to their shopping habits, but if you can match the experience your customers have across both platforms, surely you’re going to get more customers, right? While you should always be looking at different ways to attract customers, these tips outline how to bridge the gap from your in-store to online shopping experience, creating universal satisfaction.

The key is matching the two experiences. You might be thinking “Well, obviously”, but it really can be that simple. Here’s how.

Brand Consistency & Offers

You’ll no doubt have long-term loyal advocates on both platforms, but are they getting the same experience on and offline? Make sure advertising, images, merchandising, and brand styling are consistent in-store and online.

When it comes to offers, give physical shoppers an online code to use on their receipt, and email an in-store voucher to those who have bought online. Encouraging customers to use both of your stores will build more brand familiarity and, therefore, loyalty.

In-Store Technology

Tablets and TV screens are brilliant for replicating the online experience in-store. Shoppers crave opinions and don’t want to just rely on shop assistants and dressing room attendants views on whether they should buy an item or not. After all, they’re trying to make a sale so their opinion could be biased.

Offering these devices allows your customers to access reviews, articles, and all the information they need to help decide whether it’s a good purchase or not.

Another way to bridge the convenience gap between in-store and online shopping are QR codes. As we’ve mentioned, web browsers can access lots more product information. If every product in-store had a QR code, you could then direct the customer to a page full of information about the product. As people would rather do their research independently, rather than ask a store assistant, this would be a more effective method to encourage a decision.

Retail WiFi

A lot of shoppers often like to use their smartphones while they shop. But how annoying is it when you can’t get any signal? This is especially a problem in larger department stores or shopping centres. Providing in-store WiFi allows shoppers to research products and access social media while they shop, which provides a great customer experience.

Slow or nonexistent connections can be a real turn off for customers, especially Gen Z shoppers who seem to have their phones glued to their hands. If shoppers can’t access the internet, social media, and send instant messages, they can easily be put off and driven away to different locations with better WiFi.

Not only is WiFi beneficial for your customers, but it can also provide great insight for you to base crucial business decisions on. Analytics gathered by in-store WiFi can give you data on shopper behaviour. This can be anything from heat maps of where they’ve been browsing in-store to peak footfall times.

If your WiFi is poor, you may struggle to gain extensive data. This inconsistency can lead you to make poor decisions and may lead to targeting your customers incorrectly.

Utilise Social Media

Why wait for your customers to interact with you? Make the first move by putting yourself on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This will help with your brand exposure and allow more people to notice you through shareability. Especially if you inject real personality into your posts. A more genuine approach will allow shoppers to relate to your brand more. You’ll get noticed for the people behind your brand, not just another boring account with no character.

Not only can you interact with customers, but it’s a great platform for networking and strengthening relationships with other business and charities, which is brilliant for your brand image too.

Boost Your Omni-Channel Experience by Bridging the Gap

It goes without saying, if your customers receive a better-matched experienced in-store and online, they’re likely to return again. Which is why bridging the gap between both is so important for modern day success.

In a world that is dominated by evolving technology, to rely on the tactics of yesteryear would be setting yourself up for failure and could prove to be detrimental to your business. Shoppers would be more likely to give your main competitors custom if they receive a better experience with them.

The more you connect your in-store experience with your online presence, the deeper connection you form with your customers. Which surely can only mean more success, right?