How to maintain a successful in-store retail experience in the digital age

By Cassie Walker, Marketing Executive at Wranx

The consumer shopping experience has evolved significantly over the past few decades with the help of technology. Technology has helped to enhance and automate parts of the shopping experience, making it a streamlined, personalised process for the consumer, not only to make it more enjoyable but to also encourage conversion rates. However, technology has also challenged the traditional in-store experience as shopping online is seen as an easier avenue to make purchases across industries.

Due to the increased accessibility of the internet and usage of mobile phones, there are now many enterprise companies that are focusing on making the online customer experience (CX) as good as it can be. The fact consumers can shop anywhere, at any time means a lot of investment goes into their online experience, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a huge role in this. AI creates a new level of personalisation across devices, sitting on top of the multiple customer touch points to help the business analyse how customers are interacting online.

Whether through a mobile application or website, AI continuously monitors consumers to create a universal consumer view, benefitting retailers. This could appear in the form of a push notification or chatbot assistant, alerting consumers to promotions and recommendations based on their past searches.

Though the online CX might seem impossible to compete with, maintaining a physical store presence is still important for a lot of shoppers. Successful brands will seek out ways to leverage an integrated physical/digital experience to facilitate meaningful human interactions. Retailers can maximise the strengths of digital for speed and personalisation and then combine this with the power of their sales associates, helping to build a one-to-one emotional connection with the customer.

To maintain a successful in-store experience in the digital age, retailers need to start with their front-line employees. Store associates are the customer’s first point of contact, so it is essential that their product knowledge and customer service skills are continually being developed. This is where digital technology can be leveraged: mobile learning platforms that provide on-demand performance support to associates.

Digital learning is key for retailers as it helps disparate workers stay connected, enabling consistent, high-quality learning to be dispersed to all teams. Partnering a digital learning platform with onboarding training will provide efficient reinforcement of product knowledge, meaning associates are continually improving their knowledge and passion for the brand. A large retailer who used the digital learning platform Wranx found a 50% increase of items in consumer baskets, subsequent to associates completing digital learning.

The digital age offers retailers an abundance of technology that they can use to their advantage, but it’s important for them to maintain a  physical presence. Providing a successful in-store experience is key to building customer retention and, ultimately, a passion for the brand. The customer is both a retailer’s best advocate and repeat purchaser, lowering marketing costs and accelerating engagement and organisational growth. Although technology can offer high-level personalisation and ‘smart’ recommendations, consumers are still striving for meaningful experiences and contact, which will come directly from your front-line employees.

Training is where technology can be effectively leveraged by empowering retail employees to create the same personalised experience in store. Regular digital training will grow their knowledge and passion for the brand, which will ultimately filter through into their work performance. Technology does not possess the same level of creativity and empathy as humans, highlighting the importance of using technology to empower associates in the digital age, as opposed to replacing them.

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