The store is by no means dead, but they have to reinvent themselves. It’s an important transformation that will see digital playing a key role in selling more products which aren’t necessarily available in stores and by creating new shopping experiences.
We’ve already seen some retailers downsizing and changing the nature of their stores. For instance, the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea opened its first small-format stores in the centre of New York and Paris last year. So, instead of traipsing to huge out-of-town 40,000 square metre outlets, urban customers can now get a taste and easy-access to an entire catalogue via digital terminals and staff armed with PDAs, as well as a selection of around 1,500 products mainly composed of decorative and kitchen items. Rather than having to lug heavy bookcases around, consumers can get items delivered directly to their home, to a chosen pick-up point, or another Ikea store.
With these new city-centre formats, retailers can save money and complement their offer with new experiences.
President of Diamart Consulting.
This use of digital technology to introduce new experiences and never miss a sale is fast becoming a global phenomenon. In China, Intersport has opened a mega-store in Beijing in association with the online shopping giant Alibaba. A digital wall displays a full range of trainers in 3D, so that clients can see them from every angle, compare them and request a fitting. And if the desired product or size isn’t available, it can be delivered to their home, or a chosen store.
To set yourselves up and respond positively to a customer’s needs – even if a product isn’t available in store – requires reliable, unified stock information with a real-time updates. The cloud is ideal for sharing information with everyone throughout the world.
In-store staff need to be equipped with tools to access product catalogues and to know what’s available and how to order products. This can be done either at the till, using a tablet, or even at a stand-alone kiosk.
The key to successfully deploying an Endless Aisle service means looking closely at what’s expected from your customers and how you can sell more effectively through an omnichannel setup.
Marketing Director of Cegid Retail
The human element is another important aspect. Sales staff need to appreciate what’s at stake and never allow these tools to get in the way of physical or online sales. This might require redefining the objectives of store-based sales and looking more closely at the catchment area and no longer confining sales to a particular store’s stock. Training is, of course, vital for store staff to take advantage of the tools and best-practices to sell additional items that aren’t actually physically present and thus boost sales.
Finally, the logistics setup is a third key point to remember, as you don’t want any problems or delays which will lead to a very disappointed customer.