How online shopping is changing the in-store approach

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Internet shopping is an established and ever increasing channel for brands, retailers and customers. As a result of this, we are seeing brands refocusing their in-store efforts around customer service.

As head of training at iD, I find this can be a complex and multi-faceted aspect of staff training.

The majority of the time our goal is to convert a customer to purchase in-store on the same day, however the messages that brands want us to communicate are becoming more complex – they want their customers to be present both in store and online, so this alters the message we need to deliver face to face.

The stats on the growth of online shopping

• Online retail sales are predicted to reach £52.25bn in the UK this year, a 16.2% increase on 2014 when the total stood at £44.97bn
• This equates to 15.2% of all retail sales in the UK and means that on average UK consumers will spend £1,174 online in 2015, which would make us the most frequent online shoppers in Europe

Can in-store interaction be used to drive customers online?

One thing we’ve found is that buying online isn’t always looked on as favourable by the shopper. If the customer is in store, speaking to someone face-to-face and is told they ‘can get it online’ it’s invariably not well received.

While it’s true that we all like a bargain, we live in an instant world and if we want it, we want it now. This is true both online and offline.

The importance of face-to-face

As online retail becomes more and more important brand advocacy is vital. Therefore, the ability to give customers an amazing face-to-face experience which brings the brand to life is more important than ever.

That doesn’t mean you can ignore the brand’s online elements – you need to physically bring the brand to life in front of the customer with an added personal touch, whilst at the same time sensitively driving the customer to the website for occasional purchase or to obtain data for future brand communication. One thing to remember is that Brand Ambassadors add value at many points throughout the purchasing cycle.

As an agency we are constantly working hard to develop new ways of establishing ROI for our clients. Our direct on the day sales results don’t always provide an accurate representation of the ambassadors’ full impact in-store, therefore clients now need to think about the bigger picture.

More and more we’re seeing that customers want to talk to a specialist when looking to purchase. For the customer a purchase is a risk - more so online where customer reviews can be massively conflicting in opinion, which can often sway a customer’s decision to purchase. When it comes to purchase barriers in-store we’re reassured more wholeheartedly by a person when we have the opportunity to ask the exact question we want and be given an immediate response.

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Focus on the person not the product

The question you need to ask is “what can you achieve in person which you can’t from looking at a screen and clicking a button?”

Well for starters, online you can’t give your customers a personal experience that makes the brand tangible and unique to them.

In the end trust in necessary for any purchase and in my opinion the best way to build this trust is through human interaction. By putting a human face to the brand we have already started the process of creating a personalised story for that customer.

This all leads to the customer feeling valued. Ultimately, consumers want to feel valued by brands – if they don’t then they are less likely to spend.

Develop meaningful relationships

If brands want to develop a meaningful relationship with customers then they need to be seen as making the effort to build that connection.

That’s what we love to do at iD – get in touch with us today and find out how our in-store approach could help your brand.

Ally Monaco, Head of Training

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