We all do it. We walk into a store, we check out some products, ask the store associate some questions, and then walk out without buying anything. Later that day or that week, we go online and buy that exact product we saw at the store, which will chalk up another sale for the retailer’s online business.
But wait – why didn’t we just buy it online in the first place? Did we need to see it, touch it, try it? Would we have bought that product if the store associate didn’t answer key questions or recommend the purchase? The fact is, the store is still serving a purpose and even plays a role in driving online sales. You cannot measure the value of a store by simply looking at cash register receipts. YoY Store Sales Comparisons don’t tell the whole story. The store is part of a greater shopping journey. It is a showroom and distribution center. It is an answer center, a marketing platform, and the store and its associates are at the center of local employee-customer collaboration and relationships. The intangible benefits of the store are significant.
That value of the store goes beyond what takes place between the four walls. Once visitors leave a store, they can remain deeply engaged with the brand and the local store workers. How? We see associates e-mailing customers, texting them, building online or social media relationships with them and amplifying marketing efforts. These communication efforts help drive sales but associates are not getting credit for the impact these communications and relationships have on both future in-store sales and online sales. This is changing as retailers are using analytics to understand the impact of in-store and associate interactions on the online business. In fact, the most requested feature for our Tulip Retail Clienteling Suite we enabled was sales attribution for associates who drove business via their personalized eMails and text messages to customers.
A new report from Fit For Commerce, Fit For Commerce Annual Report 2017: FROM IDEA TO DOORSTEP, highlights the fact that succeeding in today’s ever-changing digital commerce world requires mastering a complex mix of people, process and technology innovations that all must work seamlessly across all touchpoints and channels. That’s right… people, i.e. the store workers, are still in the success equation. The interactions with an associate in a store are part of that shopping journey regardless where the final transaction takes place.
Here’s an excerpt from the report:
The importance of digital commerce continues to rise – brick and mortar retail is not dead, but traditional retail as we once knew it no longer exists. The industry is changing and it is upon all of us to reinvent what traditional retail means. As we look ahead, we expect to see further consolidation of the retail market, improved use of data and a greater need to connect and blend in-store and digital experiences.
I think this report nails it. It uses the term “digital commerce” to capture all aspects of the cross-channel shopping experience. I believe e-commerce as a term will slowly fade and all commerce will have a digital component and there will be no need to distinguish e-commerce as a standalone business or technology platform. All commerce will be connected to the Internet. Viewing commerce as either online or offline is a death sentence for retailers. It’s all just digital commerce… web and mobile technology will meld the stores with their web sites and integrate customer mobile apps and associate mobile apps. Understanding this unification is the only way to remain successful.
Can we prove that associates with mobile technology that enables clienteling, assisted selling, mPOS and online store integration increase sales? Absolutely! Our customers are running the analytics to understand the associates impact on ALL sales and finally have the data to come to some very interesting conclusions. In fact, our customers often compare Tulip-enabled stores with their non-Tulip stores, essentially running A/B Testing. In every case so far, AOV, Conversion Rates and Foot Traffic have all gone up in the Tulip-enabled stores. In other words, the re-invention of the store by empowering workers with mobile apps and tools is no longer just an experiment or vision. It’s a must-have initiative with a proven business case.
For more details on this topic, definitely download the complete report: Fit For Commerce Annual Report 2017: FROM IDEA TO DOORSTEP and check out the “In-Store” chapter for the store of the future.