A few years ago before the pandemic target announced It should remodel its stores, add dozens of small-scale locations, and put endless-aisle technology in the hands of its store associates. Apparently, the announcement went over like a lead balloon as brick-and-mortar retail was said to be on the decline.
“We have said that we will use our branches as fulfillment hubs and activate 1,900 fulfillment centers across the country.” Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, recalled during a keynote session at the 2022 NRF Big Show in New York. “Well, I sat in this room and it was quite a cold reaction. But these investments in our team, in our stores, and in our fulfillment model — things like in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and having a shipt shopper delivered to your door — have been really important during the pandemic. And I think they will stay if we continue.”
According to software developer Adobe, 8 out of 10 say B2B companies Omnichannel is crucial to their future success. But like many relationships, it can be complicated.
“Your customer experience can easily become fragmented and inconsistent. And when that happens, customers hesitate to buy,” the company explains in a recently published eBook. “They wonder if they can get a better deal online, in store, or at another retailer. To be successful, you need a full integrated customer experience that is clear, consistent and greater than the sum of its parts.”
As COVID-19 lingers, apparel buyers are venturing back into physical stores. But the pandemic has also made it much more convenient for them to buy clothes online. Nearly three-quarters of consumers (72 percent) have purchased clothing from a brick-and-mortar store in the past month, according to Cotton Incorporated’s 2021 Coronavirus Response Consumer Survey, Wave 9, December 8, 2021. At the same time, 71 percent bought clothes online. And 68 percent have used their phones to browse clothes online while browsing for clothes in a physical store.
While 40 percent of consumers say they buy clothes in-store more now than they did before the pandemic, 36 percent say they now prefer to buy their clothes online, according to the Coronavirus Response Survey (Wave 9).
to appeal to today’s multichannel customersAdobe advises retailers to review their products across all channels for consistency in content description and imagery. The company also says retailers need to ensure all their channels, including Amazon Business, are connected to the same e-commerce platform and inventory management system. In addition, stores need to ensure their pricing, payment and shipping options are consistent so customers get the same deal no matter where they shop. And retailers must not only enable online shopping and in-store pickup, they must also provide in-store tablets or kiosks where buyers or in-store sellers can search for products that may not be available locally.
According to the Coronavirus Response Survey (Wave 9), 58 percent of consumers plan to spend more on clothes in the next few months, with 60 percent of those consumers planning to buy those clothes online.
According to the Coronavirus Response Survey (Wave 9), almost half of all consumers (48 percent) expect clothing retailers to offer online ordering with curbside or in-store pickup. Another 27 percent expect stores to offer same-day delivery.
Salesfloor, a digital platform that connects web shoppers with store associates, suggests retailers present their products, prices and proximity to local customers conducting product searches online. Businesses should display their location, hours of operation, directions, and inventory availability (including aisle location) near the searcher’s home or office. They should also publicize in-store events and promotions through digital channels and personally invite preferred customers.
Online shoppers should be encouraged to do the same collect their purchases in the fulfillment promotions business, suggests Salesfloor. And agents should reach customers with hyper-targeted offers based on individual and specific purchase history. The company also suggests that stores host live streams, in-store product demonstrations, celebrity appearances, or special sales events.
Salesfloor recently acquired Automat, a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform powering guided shopping experiences, product recommendations, and personalization for brands. The move expands the company’s capabilities to include virtual shopping, customer care and point-of-sale automation for retailers.
“Through this exciting acquisition, we are able to provide a mix of people Store associates and AI-powered features to enhance the shopping experience,” said Oscar Sachs, CEO of Salesfloor. “The combination of skilled store associates and the ability to leverage automation technology enables a more personalised, targeted and efficient shopping experience for the customer while optimizing the use of valuable store associate time – ultimately to the retailers’ benefit.”
Target’s Cornell said when his team put together its strategy in 2017, they had no idea what would happen to them a few years later when COVID struck.
“But the Investments have paid off to a large extent during the pandemic,” he said. “I think in the future there’s going to be a great balance between consumers who still love being physically in a store but want all the ease, convenience and security that comes with just pulling up and taking that order or something to put on their doorstep. We’ve seen that it’s not “either/or” – it’s an “and”. Even in the pandemic, consumers have gravitated towards physical stores as well as digital and – in many cases – same-day fulfillment options to get their needs met. I think that will stay.”