Unifying the customer experience during this festive shopping season

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With Black Friday and Cyber Monday – presumably, the biggest days for shopping right around the corner, it is one of the best times of the year for two main reasons – the festive season is very near and the festive shopping gets going in full swing. Retail companies looking to ring in higher festive shopping sales this year need to get a few basic things right for the festive shopping such as their display, merchandise, promotions and so on. Having said that, it is the age of omni-channel retailing and as such, brands must also look to leap ahead in their game, in order to deliver the unified omni-channel customer experience that shoppers would be expecting during this festive shopping season.

‘Click and Collect’ or ‘Buy Online Pick up In-store (BOPIS)’ is one of the revolutionary omni-channel retailing techniques that retail businesses can adopt into their strategies and operations to cater to  festive shoppers’ expectations. As the name ‘Click and Collect’ suggests, the concept is that shoppers can make their purchases online and then opt to collect the products at their desired ‘brick and mortar’ stores. This way, shoppers can use both online and offline channels at their convenience to shop and to receive gratification of their purchases. As per a recent survey, 58% of shoppers will use a buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) fulfillment option for their holiday shopping this year. The benefits are multifold. For shoppers, it is the ease and convenience of shopping so that they may avoid the need to look for products at the stores during the festive rush and eliminating the wait time due to shipping. For retailers, it is the enhancement of their brand presence both online and offline, and the opportunity to ‘cross sell’ and ‘up sell’. This could be both online through suggestions and offers, and offline when the shoppers come to collect their products at the store. ‘Click and collect’ or ‘BOPIS’ can therefore enable retailers to offer a seamless omni-channel customer experience during their festive shopping.

Another technique or strategy that retail businesses can employ this festive season to increase sales and boost customer loyalty across channels is ‘endless aisle’. An omni-channel concept, ‘endless aisle’ fundamentally enables shoppers to shop online for products that are not available at that brick and mortar retail store, with the help of handheld devices or kiosks that populate additional product assortments/options through e-commerce sites. The best part is, this can be done right from the store. So a shopper looking to buy a particular product but unable to locate it at the store, can still buy that product from the online portal at the store. This helps eliminate the risk of lost sales for retailers and the frustration for shoppers during out of stock situations. Moreover, it saves shoppers the effort to look for the product elsewhere and thus enhances their experience and trust in the retail brand, cementing the brand-customer relationship. Like ‘Click and Collect’, even ‘endless aisle’ involves both offline and online channels thus empowering retailers to deliver a unified customer experience across channels.

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