Integrating Online with Offline –One of the Biggest Challenges for Bricks and Mortar Retailers

Integrating online retail with offline retail remains a big challenge for most retailers. Retailers who are for years in business are using technology that is developed for running a physical shop better and making shopping for their customers easier.

A study by Forrester Consulting reported by Internet Retailing found that although 90% of the UK retailers are now doing business online, most of them find it difficult to join their online and offline technology. Yet, only 26% of the retailers interviewed mentioned that their sales are influenced by the online channel.

Technology use by the customers of Bricks and Mortar retailers

Most of the customers of Bricks and Mortar retailers visit the retailer’s website to get information about the inventory in the shop.  And, according to the study by Forrester Consulting, 39% of customers surveyed say they are unlikely or very unlikely to visit a retailer’s store if its website does not provide physical store inventory information.

Only 32% of the retailers that was interviewed offered a function on their websites for customers to view their in-store inventory details.

Customers want shopping convenience

Results of the study indicated that half of all customers cited store pickup options as important or very important to them when shopping online. However,  only a third of retailers today already support store-pickup programs.

The customers interviewed demanded the following:

  • Absolute guarantees that the product is actually available;
  • Rapid picking and notification alerts;
  • Customers want to pay at the point of pickup;
  • Customers want the option to pick their goods up at alternative locations.

Integrating online – customer experience in the digital age

By using their smartphones in the shop, the customers are in power. They use their smartphones to check inventory availability before entering the store. The phones are also use in the store and to research the products that they are interested to buy.

Retailers that integrate online retail with their physical stores need to be masters of their stores and the digital domain.

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