How do you decide whether to buy online or offline? You want to shop in local retail stores to support business in the city center while enjoying the city buzz – because you love the variety and the hustle and bustle and wouldn’t miss it for the world... But in the evening, smartphone in hand, you end up ordering the product online – right?
Recently, I experienced the following:
On the search for a PC screen for my home office, I was determined to buy it in a local brick-and-mortar retail outlet. At the store, however, I quickly became disillusioned. Based on the selection on display, I knew very quickly what I didn’t want and, just as quickly, what I needed:
Because even though my desired product was not available, I was able to formulate a better picture of what I needed in terms of dimensions, color, and, of course, image quality. Seeing, touching, and sometimes even using my sense of smell guides me to the correct purchase decision on site. For me, this is an obvious advantage of offline retail. And my decision is so definite that the risk of having to return the product is extremely small...
But somehow, I didn’t quite manage to find the product of my choice. What did I need at that moment? What would I have liked to have?
The requests of consumers on site:
Is it currently feasible to fulfill these requests? Yes, it is; however, brick-and-mortar outlets are slow to respond to changes in customer needs.
The rapid proliferation of online retailers with a strong customer focus has led to much higher customer expectations.
What high expectations do we have as a result of online commerce?
We now expect exactly the same from local retailers. However, space restrictions can make it difficult to provide a large selection of products in a brick-and-mortar store. New store concepts are needed. By skillfully blending the online and offline shopping experience, customer expectations can be modified in a positive and promising way.
If this approach is taken further, there are many more “side-effects” that can enhance the customer experience offline as well:
Of course, this also places high requirements on the IT solution used – you can read more about this in the next installment on the topic.
Back to the start: If there had been a “Multimedia Connect” store, would I be the proud owner of a new PC screen by now? I think so, because I was able to define my criteria precisely based on the selection displayed on site. If I had received appropriate support and suggestions, I would have selected and paid for my product straight away and it would have been on my desk the very next day. A happy retailer and a satisfied customer – a win-win for both sides.