Conversion Rate Optimization in Physical Retail

Like online retailers, brick-and-mortar retailers need to focus more of their efforts on converting the store traffic that they receive. In today’s retail environment, no retail business can afford to fritter away their store traffic – it should be treated as a valuable, non-renewable resource. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) when effectively applied, can be the difference between delivering positive same-store sales or not.

Here are some statistics that shed light on the conversion rate scenario of brick-and-mortar stores:

Physical stores have a higher conversion rate than online

Conversion rates vary considerably across retail categories, but they also vary significantly within the same chain as a result of variations in store format, geographical location, product mix, inventory levels, and most importantly, store personnel who serve the shoppers. The reality is, each and every brick-and-mortar store is unique and in order to optimize conversion rates, these unique characteristics need to be considered.

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Impact of Click & Collect on Conversion Rate

Customers expect a seamless experience regardless of how they engage with a retailer and these expectations are blurring the lines between online and physical stores. Concepts such as Click and Collect are impacting store traffic patterns and conversion rates.

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At the store depicted here, the store traffic counts went up from 10 to 12 after the implementation of omni-channel retail solutions that enabled Click & Collect, sometimes also referred to as Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) functionality.

Since three of the 12 traffic counts generated were ‘pre-converted’ i.e., already purchased online and came to the store to pick-up their purchase; they didn’t generate a sales transaction. If we don’t track that Click & Collect transaction and factor it into our conversion rates, then the only thing that we will conclude is that our conversion rates have dropped from 50% to 42% in this example.

Reasons why in-store shoppers didn’t convert

The most cited reasons why in-store shoppers didn’t purchase are:

  1. They could not find anyone to help them; and
  2. They did not want to wait in a queue at check-out.
  3. They could not find what they were looking for or the preferred item was out-of-stock.

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This draws attention to the impact in-store staff have on conversion rates. Getting the store teams engaged and encouraging them to apply insights from traffic and conversion analytics can play a winning role in driving the conversion rates at the store.

Solutions such as mobile POS, self-checkouts can address the long wait-time at the checkout counters by enabling effective queue busting at the store.

The merchandising and product availability challenges can be countered by deploying omni-channel features such as endless aisle.

In conclusion, modern day retailers need to implement innovative software solutions that allow them to transform their business in to omni-channel as well as equip them with the power of capturing and analyzing data across channels. This will help them boost the conversion rates at the brick-and-mortar store.


Four Emerging Trends in this Revolutionary Era of Shopping

Everything about how the modern-day consumers research, shop, and purchase is changing, and established retail brands and businesses must learn to adapt. A new era of shopping has emerged leading to 4 trends:

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From ‘online-To-Offline’ Is Gaining Momentum –

  • Big online-only players such as Amazon are increasingly eyeing and realizing the value of traditional stores to grow and generate profits. In the age of omni-channel retailing, it is insufficient for large e-commerce companies to exclusively sell online as brick-and-mortar stores are the go-to destinations where consumers get the chance to touch and feel the products. 
  • Hence E-commerce players are setting up their own physical stores to allow consumers to try products prior to buying, or they are partnering with local stores to enable shoppers to collect the products they have purchased online. The convergence of the physical and digital channels into a seamless omni-channel world is accelerating.

Stores Stay Relevant, Important, But They Are Evolving –

  • An online only retail world doesn’t seem to be a possibility and brick-and-mortar stores are far from getting extinct. Even today, offline stores continue to drive the overwhelming majority of retail sales globally. 
  • However, stores are no more merely places to make purchases; they are now evolving into entertainment hubs and social destinations allowing shoppers to explore and connect. This new wave of “experiential retail” is fast gaining momentum.

Delivery Options Are Growing And Time Frames Shrinking –

  • Urban online shoppers today can expect same day deliveries and next day deliveries after placing an order thanks to retailers exploring new options of delivering packages more efficiently and economically. 
  • Retailers are trying to further reduce delivery time frames with the help of existing logistics partners or signing on with startups. And while groundbreaking technologies such as self-driving cars and delivery drones could revolutionize delivery, retail companies are using the right technologies enabling products ordered online to be collected at the stores in a matter of hours.

Shopping Patterns Are Changing Globally –

  • None of the above trends are restricted to a particular region or a single market. Similarly, innovation is not limited to any one region. 
  • For example, China was where expansive urban delivery networks made same-day e-commerce deliveries common in large cities, and it was there that the term ‘online-to-offline’ originated. Also, in other retail markets around the globe, the connection between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail stores is swiftly growing in importance.
  • The bar for retail brands and businesses has been raised higher today than ever before and at the same time, business growth and increase in profitability remain elusive for even the most forward-thinking companies. 
  • In order to compete, retailers are getting more creative in their strategies of how they plan to leverage the opportunities of both online and offline channels. While doing so, they are thinking of redefining the in-store customer experience, preparing for rising delivery expectations, and merging the online and offline channels so as to function seamlessly. 
  • Consumers are connected, technology savvy, and well-informed. They are demanding a rapid change and retail brands are responding. A new era of shopping has begun!

Also Read : 3 Ways To Help Shoppers Buy More And Buy Fast

Shopping Today Is A Highly Social Activity

Leveraging social media to enhance customer engagement
– Rudi Steffens
ETP blog social shopping

I am writing this as a father, husband and retail industry professional. Today, people are connected through several different mediums and channels and businesses are no different. The lines between personal and business connections are blurred and sometimes even non-existent.

Social media is the new super power of buying and selling. If I want to know about a product, I go online and in most cases use the social media portals. I don’t just want to know what my friends think about a product, I want to know what the world thinks! The more information I can get my hands on, the more informed choice I can make. I want to walk into a store, pay for my product and walk out. I can do all of this today because of social media.

Consider these facts from Internet Retailer’s Newly Released 2015 Social Media 500

The top 500 online merchants –

  • boosted their collective number of Facebook Likes 33% in 2014 to 915.7 million
  • grew their Twitter followings 26% to 88.6 million
  • increased their Pinterestfollowers 16% to 34.7 million
  • 78% more video views on YouTube for a total of 3.89 billion

Mobile technologies enable retailers to offer in-store discounts to shoppers who are checking prices online while at the store. Customers expect stores to have apps that help with aisle navigation, product location within the store and quick product pick-up. Video chats on smartphones in brick-and-mortar stores enable shoppers to have a live chat with product experts and not have to wait for a shop assistant to become available. Free in-store Wi-Fi encourages this updated shopping experience. The ongoing convergence of the in-store and online shopping experiences continue to present both a challenge and an opportunity for retailers. When it comes to embracing social selling, those with the right technologies in place to meet and even exceed the customers’ growing expectations are sure to be rewarded for their efforts.

The question is, what can the retailer do to make me come to them and purchase a product?

They could make my choice easy. I want to be proactively informed about new products which are linked to e-commerce and m-commerce channels. These mediums need to be user-friendly and should have my profile saved with the option to secure and save my payment options for quick checkouts. Remember my kids’ birthdays and remind me about Valentine’s Day. Know what I bought last time and recommend something new, based on my buying history and feedback. If I feel the offerings are curated as per my taste and desires, I am sure to come back for more.

Lastly, service with a smile and with value-driven choice.