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A New Way to Look at In-Store User Experience for Brick and Mortar Retailers

Girls shopping

So, how much of your holiday shopping was done online this year? For many of us, more and more is bought online. Over the 2016 holiday shopping season, some major retailers like The Limited made headlines after announcing it would be closing all 250 of its stores across the U.S. and eliminate 4,000 jobs. While brick and mortar retailers are struggling with drops in sales, they are also struggling with shifts in consumer interests and habits. Is online shopping the sole culprit of the demise of retailers or are other factors at play? It’s a matter of serious debate.

Brick and Mortar Decline

Over the last few years, we’ve consistently heard that while online sales are up, most shoppers still prefer to buy in-store. However, this may be changing — according to a recent study by Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute, 40 percent of people say shopping in-store is a chore and 32 percent say they would rather be at home washing the dishes.

As user experience has improved in the digital space, brick and mortars have struggled to evolve. Projected infrastructure costs for overhauling retail stores can intimidate retailers. According to the study, “shoppers are frustrated by in-person retail experiences that have not only failed to keep pace with developments in online shopping but are also disconnected for online stores.” What causes the frustration?

  • 71% find it hard to compare products
  • 66% are annoyed by long lines at checkout
  • 65% complain that the promotions they receive in store aren’t relevant
  • 65% can’t find what they want

In-store User Experience

Online retailers and other sites have all spent significant time and resources understanding user needs and optimizing their site experiences to take more of the total shopping share. When building or optimizing a website, digital architects look for breaking points in the experience — moments where lead generation or commerce goals get interrupted. That effort around digital user experience has left many in-store user experiences falling flat in comparison. In order to stay relevant, traditional brick and mortar retailers need to address issues like those above by embracing the same type of user experience planning that their online counterparts have leveraged to meet shoppers’ changing needs. Retailers can benefit from working with agency partners who are adept at understanding shopper insights and designing highly functional user experiences in both on and offline environments.

When we think about our clients’ shoppers, we are focused on creating a marketing experience that drives purchase behavior. This approach can be applied in-store every bit as much as it has been applied online. Retailers should work to assess shopper experience gaps in-store and align with a marketing partner to help develop an in-store user experience plan based on insights. Keep up with the digital marketing trends, but don’t leave out physical stores in the thought process. This will keep your stores relevant to today’s shoppers.

Still Hope for Brick and Mortar, But Evolution Is Key

Is it worth the effort? Never doubt the underdog. According to the same Capgemini study, 70 percent of consumers still want to touch and feel products before they make a purchase. This statistic is especially true in more durable and highly considered goods categories like automotive and home improvement, among others.

The in-store user experience must evolve to meet that of the online store and ideally, if infrastructure allows, link the two experiences as much as possible. According to a Deloitte study, digital interactions now influence more than half of in-store purchases — a dramatic increase from 2013.