There are huge differences between the online shopping experience and the real-life brick-and-mortar one. And while the online retail industry has boomed in recent years, and many claims that online shopping is hands down far better than the offline version, there is no real definitive evidence to show that one mode is better than the other (either in terms of sales or customers satisfaction). What is clear is that there is a strong trend towards building a seamless shopping experience that involves better integrating the online and offline components of retail.
Increasing in-store sales with digital
One of the best ways to improve the overall shopping experience is to add more digital components to the in-store experience. There are some very basic ways to do this like adding phone and digital device catalogs or info booths, but there are some interesting and more sophisticated modes of operation that are starting to happen. For one thing, Adidas recently launched a Virtual Footwear Wall in partnership with Intel. Shoppers can use the wall to view a huge array of footwear. Other solutions include augmented reality shopping experiences that allow customers to view products in their home environments and virtually experiment with products in different models, colors and locations.
Apps are helping us shop better in real-life
Physically bringing digital devices into a brick-and-mortar shop is one way to better integrate online and offline shopping, but another great way to better connect the two experiences is through apps that have a connection with the real-life world of shopping. A great example of this is the Target app. With Target, you can look at products in specific branches of real Target shops and know exactly what is available, or what special offers are relevant before you set foot in your local branch.
Increasing online sales with voice
While bringing online and digital elements in-store seems like a no-brainer, the most challenging part of the equation is how to bring offline elements to online shopping. When it comes to online shopping, a lot of the interactions are impersonal especially since customers increasingly shop marketplace giants and don’t always hear from the end-sellers. Niche sites and boutique marketplaces like Etsy make it easier to interact with shop-owners but there is still something inherently impersonal about the way it’s done.
One of the technologies that bring the personal touch of offline shopping to the online world is a voice. Adding a voice pitch to a store allows customers hear you talk about the products you love and the great offers you have as if you were meeting them in real life. Just think of the example of a clothes store; ok, so you customers can’t try on your clothes but if you have a special offer or a bestseller you can record a pitch. You can even record multiple pitches. Every user that gets to your store can hear the pitch and choose to respond with a voice comment. This helps you interact better, and ultimately bring the offline and online experience together to create more sales.
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