Smart points of sales: mixing and matching the physical with the digital

First there was e-commerce, and next came m-commerce. Today, chatbots, artificial intelligence features and smart speakers are, altogether, causing an upheaval in traditional customer behavior … And this has a lasting, major impact on the retail industry. Keeping afloat in this rapidly changing economy leaves the industry with little or no choice but to prove itself more digitized, connected and user-friendly. Control over data is the key enabler to meet and mate with such a goal, including laying the foundation for optimizing marketing strategies in an industry which has, for too long, suffered from the lack of measurability of marketing actions at the point of sale.

 

Retailers must rethink their business to sustain their market position

In a survey conducted for the 2018 Paris Retail Week, 74% of French people claim they want to be free to make their purchases wherever and whenever they want, e.g., when traveling, at work, or from their living room sofa. These new buying behaviors, facilitated by the rise and affordability of next-generation technologies, are urging retailers to reinvent themselves.

As a result, some leading brands, those that make the best use of technology, have come to dominate the market. This new paradigm which perfectly matches the current buying patterns of consumers, is the pathway to immediate success: a more innovative, attractive user experience drives loyalty, and can even turn customers into brand advocates. On the other hand, brands that are lagging behind are struggling to reconcile their online and offline activities. The gap is widening, and this rift adversely impacts sales as well as brand awareness.

Indeed, when facing online players who provide a shopping experience at any time of the day or night, offer quick delivery, and efficiently manage the return of purchased goods, traditional points of sale have no other choice than to take part in the digital battle to earn a competitive edge over the long run. Brands must promote connected stores to provide their customers with an experience that matches their expectations. And this is how brands can remain appealing and retain their premium position over the long run.

The digital revolutionizes even the physical outlets!

How Wi-Fi makes sales outlets smarter

For consumers, purchasing at sales outlets imposes certain constraints in terms of location and business hours. To balance such issues, customers must be provided with a digital omnichannel experience. The traditional multichannel model advocates the availability of different and siloed points of contact, but fails at establishing the link between web-based and physical businesses. Today, an expanded vision of retailing is required to include physical stores and e-shops in the same picture, and a prerequisite to this unified and consolidated visibility is to earn back ownership over data.

Indeed, omnichannel is the new standard. The merging and interdependence of channels, as evidenced by the rise of new practices such as “click and collect”, sets a link between online stores and physical stores, and shapes a unique, multicontact shopping experience, with full-blown visibility over each customer throughout his shopping journey.

Through these smart journeys, Wi-Fi stands as a great means to better know and recognize each customer. This level on insight is as a great business asset, a loyalty driver, and a powerful tool for proximity marketing. Wi-Fi, thus, allows smart stores to deploy a “smart phygital” model that combines the best of the online and offline worlds. Customer experience ends up being more global, targeted and relevant. Wi-Fi, long considered a cost center, becomes a real asset to implement an effective strategy to expand brand awareness. The goal is simple: get rid of mass marketing and switch to a more personalized and, thus, appealing relationship with each customer.

 

Today, more than ever, traditional retailing and e-commerce should not be pitted against each other as they actually complement each other. For retailers, the challenge is to successfully combine all existing and new sales channels, to offer customers an end-to-end experience that will cast aside the restraints of mass marketing and get back to the basics: a personalized monitoring of each customer, which is the ultimate challenge of major brands to combine a broad offering with a proximity relationship.

 

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