Consumers are searching for a physical store reboot

The traditional in-store experience has turned into a problem for consumers and it’s easy to see why. Long queues at the checkout, difficulty in comparing products or prices, irrelevant recommendations and offers… The list goes on and on. The bricks and mortar shopping experience lags so far behind the online shopping experience that it is now becoming a chore.

The death of the high street store may be an exaggerated rumour but it’s becoming uncomfortably close to the mark, especially with international giants such as Amazon and German grocery chain Kaufland looking to shake things up. For any retailer with a multi-channel strategy, this wouldn’t be a critical issue if it wasn’t for the fact that consumers use the internet to buy directly from manufacturers or through technology platforms like Facebook.

Reboot your store experience

Even though shopping in physical stores offers consumers something unique compared to the digital domain, we are seeing less value and pleasure in this core element of the physical retail experience. Consumers now expect an experience that rivals what they find online, including the technology to ensure they are engaged at every step of the shopping journey. Retail executives, however, are convinced that physical stores are just as important due to the increasing number of ecommerce players who are opting to open a bricks and mortar location.

In a technology-enabled world, retailers will need to look to make a digital connection with their in-store consumers if they hope to keep them on side as they explore new path to purchase options. Australian retailers acknowledge this shift but are still behind in terms of adoption.

The use of technology is patchy and not necessarily designed with the end customer experience in mind. Retailers are moving at a glacial pace because they are unable to measure the return on investment with the current tools or knowledge that they have. What is needed is a trusted partner to lead an analytical ROI study to measure the return and a deeper understanding into what the customer wants. Pair that with the right training of your retail staff and you are on the right track to creating value for your customer.

Over the next decade, the stores of the future will no longer solely exist to just sell products. Consumers will be able to use them for a higher function such as providing social spaces or learning experiences and inspirations. The question is will retailers encourage consumers back into the physical store with a high emphasis on the digitisation of their in-store products or ignore the consumers’ demands for a unique experience?

Prashant Chaturvedi is vice president at Capgemini.