Malls – One-stop retail shopping destinations!

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The Christmas festive season is almost here, as is the end of another year and we look for the best in the New Year. The past 2 years have probably been one of the biggest testing times for the retail industry, especially for physical retail. In the wake of the last year, which seen many known retail brands going bankrupt or shuttering stores, debates on whether physical retail would witness an apocalypse because of the rise of online shopping have been happening across the industry; but it seems like the predictors of the doom of physical retail have been silenced, thanks to the reinvention of retail.

Malls still face a threat from e-commerce shopping due to rising number of consumers preferring to shop online. The major reasons being a wide range of options available online, more discounts on online purchases, convenience of shopping from home while avoiding crowds and even reducing the chances impulse shopping. One of the major debates were whether malls would survive the online shopping or e-commerce onslaught, but the numbers are in favor of shopping in a mall. A recent survey indicated that more than 60% of consumers would visit the mall for apparel shopping as opposed to shopping for clothing online, and another 39% prefer to go to the malls, not only to explore multiple retail brands in one location, but also try on and compare clothing options. Malls offer strategic advantages which are still a hit among consumers.

One of the biggest clicks for shoppers visiting malls is the tangibility of products. Brick-and-mortar retail has thrived on the ‘touch-and-feel’ feature that shoppers love when it comes to purchasing apparel, footwear and other items. Moreover, most retail brands would be present in malls and this allows shoppers a fair opportunity to explore different brands belonging to similar categories and then take a conscious decision on what to buy, from where. Another major advantage that malls offer is socializing. Consumers prefer shopping with family and friends or even interacting with store associates to help them find the right product, as they find it easier to seek opinions and then make a purchase. In addition to this, malls are a one stop destination for shopping, entertainment and eating, thus offering wholesome experiences to shoppers for their time and money.

The bottom line is that malls and e-commerce will continue to coexist as consumers will always look at multiple options to satisfy their shopping needs. However, the catch is to ensure customers get what they want and retail brands are able to do that no matter which channel they use.

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.

Source: http://www.retailwire.com/public/sponsors/headcount/assets/HeadCount-Conversion-Rate-Optimization-2017.pdf

Endless Aisles – Harnessing In-Store and Online Shopping

ETP blog Endless Aisle

Endless aisle is allowing customers to make use of technologies such as specially designed in-store kiosks or other intuitive systems to order items that are currently out-of-stock in that particular brick-and-mortar store. It is a concept that extends beyond the inventory that in tangible form is available in the store at a given point in time. Thus, endless aisle allows retailers to forge a strong link between customer demand and inventory. Retail companies that have been quick to embrace cross-channel strategies have already begun adopting the endless aisle technology to boost their sales further.

But what makes endless aisle click? Here are some of the noteworthy benefits:

Retailers can downsize unnecessary floor area of their brick-and-mortar store. This trimming of floor space will therefore result in higher sales per square foot. Implementing endless aisle also helps retail owners counteract in-store revenue bleeding as a result of showrooming. Retail companies can thus capitalize on reduced cost of rentals and optimize the available floor space. Further, retailers can reduce the effort of displaying large products physically at the store with the implementation of endless aisle. Products that have low inventory turnover can thus be removed from the shelves of the store. Endless aisle can help boost conversion rate due to the enhanced shopping feature at the physical store and help improve customer loyalty.

With the advent of endless aisle, the need to depend on warehouses to stock-up merchandise is diminished to a large extent as retailers can enter into tie-ups with manufacturers to ship the ordered products directly to the consumers from the manufacturer’s end.

In-store consumers can enjoy the comfort of e-shopping without compromising on the traditional ‘touch and feel’ factor. Also, real-time visibility of available products at the physical and virtual store empowers the customers to shop on their own terms.

With the help of data processing and analytics, retailers can display only those products that have a high turnover in-store while offering the not-so-popular merchandise through kiosks, tablets or computers so that customers can try and buy at the same time.

As the consumers of today are in the driver’s seat, demanding the best service and setting up high expectations, retailers must opt for investing in the right tools and technology to successfully implement endless aisle in their business thus ensuring that they do not end-up facing the reality of lost sales situations.