U.S. retail sales were down in July, pointing to a cutback in discretionary spending that could lower expectations of a pickup in economic growth in the third quarter. This isn’t exactly headline news retailers want to hear, especially amidst an already competitive marketplace where online retailers are drawing consumers away from stores.
It’s no secret that consumers are increasingly turning to convenient online shopping options to make purchases. However, 90 percent of sales still happen in physical stores, proving the power of brick-and-mortar. So how can retailers continue to draw customers in and improve the shopping experience?
Tipping the scale back in favor of brick-and-mortar stores
Merging the online and in-store experience is key to drawing customers back into stores. Customers want to see, interact with, touch, taste and try on the products that they’re going to purchase without compromising the unlimited shopping options available online. This can be achieved through a device that’s beginning to emerge as an important item in the tech toolbox for retailers: the in-store touchscreen.
E-commerce has transformed the way that consumers shop, prompting retailers to launch responsive websites that scale to fit on any device, be it a phone, tablet, or desktop. However, this can also lead to stores having to compete with its own website for sales.
In-store e-commerce, combined with newer websites, can bring all the benefits of online shopping into the physical store. And retailers are already finding a measureable sales impact of giving shoppers this ‘best of both worlds’ experience. Integrating the digital and the physical creates an experience of “endless aisle” product offerings while giving consumers a consistent experience both online and in-store.
Benefits of in-store e-commerce
By bringing the website in-store, retailers never have to worry about out-of-stock items or cannibalizing sales. The entire stock is available at both the sales associate and customer’s fingertips for browsing and ordering. According to a study from PwC, 32 percent of consumers say they would be happier if they could check other stores or online stock quickly while in a store – making this strategy especially appealing.
Touchscreen technology can also improve the in-store experience by setting up sales associates for success. More than 80 percent of consumers research products online before making a purchase, so it’s crucial that sales associates are equipped to answer questions or offer input on the store’s offerings. In fact, a sales associate’s product knowledge is the number one factor for improving the in-store experience, according to the same study from PwC. Touchscreen products allow sales associates to have all the information they need to properly educate a customer, at their fingertips.
Retail sales may be down, but with the right technology, brick-and-mortar stores can turn the tide. Bringing the e-commerce experience in-store creates a best-of-both-worlds experience for your customers, and keeps them coming back for more.
Craig Witsoe is CEO of Elo, a global leader in touchscreen solutions including point-of-sale systems and interactive touchscreen displays.