How To Optimize The Online And Offline Customer Experience In Retail

If you have a retail business of any kind, chances are you fall into one of two categories —a brick-and-mortar business that expanded into e-commerce, or an e-commerce business that expanded into brick-and-mortar.

Either way, the challenge to providing a superb customer experience is to recognize what works in your original setting will not necessarily work in the new one. Online shopping and in-store shopping are fundamentally different experiences.

For instance, in-store shopping is a social activity; online shopping is a solitary activity. Some customers enjoy in-store shopping because they like being social; hence, the store design should make browsing pleasant and customer service help easily available. Some customers enjoy shopping online because they’re in a hurry or really don’t enjoy rubbing elbows with other shoppers; hence, the e-commerce website should maximize efficiency and speed.

Of course, especially because of the pandemic (but for many other reasons, as well), there’s a flipside to the social versus solitary issue just described. Some people are going to stores not because they want to be around people, but because they have no other choice. That being the case, maximizing the in-store experience means employing contactless payment solutions, social distancing techniques and other enhancements to keep customers feeling safe. For online retail, those socially minded customers who are avoiding brick-and-mortar want an e-commerce website with a personal touch that comes from engaging content and images, video, and a degree of personalization.

The accompanying resourcedraws attention to the social versus solitary issue along with several others that are critically important for every retail business to address. The resource also provides a number of suggestions for enhancing the online and offline experience —helpful for retailers trying to sort and prioritize improvements necessary to attract new customers and keep their existing customers engaged.

Store design has become a particularly complex area, in part because of the need for accommodating social and non-social shoppers and because of the need to create a unified brand experience in all the areas customers interact with you (the store, the website, social media, email, text, etc.)

Many retailers have successfully overcome the challenges by creating an in-house task force, or more commonly, by engaging a third-party expert in this highly specialized field. Whether the issue is to implement a BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) option or make significant changes to the decor and interior design, creating a brick-and-mortar customer experience that keeps shoppers shopping and coming back is a critical factor in producing greater revenue and strengthening customer loyalty.

To learn more, please view the accompanying infographic. Courtesy of Moss.