14th Jul, 2022
, , Designation
The traditional retail paradigm is facing newer challenges everyday and needs a strategic revamp to counter the vicious cycle of economic downturn, changing customer behaviour, and rising eCommerce competition.
- Retailers need to reinvent their strategies as the market challenges mount and crushes their revenue growth projections
- Moving beyond hygiene practices, retail brands should deploy virtual retail solutions along with immersive retail branding services to bring back customers in store
Retailers globally are facing a host of challenges, courtesy to supply chain disruptions, the great resignation, and rising eCommerce competition. As consumers battle dipping economic overtures, retailers are copping the blow of rising inflation and changing customer behaviour. People are no longer the blind consumers and are allowing social values to shape their consuming habits.
It is on retailers to reinvent themselves and deliver heightened customer experience while making their business model more value-based and optimal to meet the changing customer demands. From delivering a safe and sanitized shopping experience to selling products that speaks to consumers’ conscience, the future of retail lies in adopting customer-centricity.
Retailers need more than a Checklist of Sanitization Practices
What retailers need most right now is an agile, customer-centric approach they can deploy immediately. An actionable vision that sets them apart and entices people to hit the stores is the need of the hour. However, the best part is that innovative ways of keeping the stores relevant were already being prototyped on a smaller scale before BC (before COVID). Pivoting to virtual retail will allow brick-and-mortar stores to cash in on this moment of transition to shift towards a more resilient, sustainable, and meaningful future.
To win in adversity, retailers need to embrace virtual retail solutions and look through layers to control costs better, operate more efficiently, and leverage data-driven retail branding services to transform the in-store experience. So, for better or worse, only the most agile and adaptable in the retail industry are likely to survive and thrive.
Virtual Retail Solutions to Bring a Better In-Store Experience for Connected Customers
Brick-and-mortar allows for more experiential shopping that creates engagement, brand experience, as well as excitement. But still traditional retail businesses are stuck between sales burnout and long-term financial commitments associated with the cost of operating a physical retail space. This is why the demand for virtual experiences will be substantial in the future as the virtual model mimics traditional retail minus the extra cost/ hassle.
And in the store, that means equipping store managers and associates with better technology and innovation.
Transition to virtual retail will allow brick-and-mortar stores to deliver in a downturn. So, what’s the catch?
Convert your Store into a Stage
Reducing contact and limiting crowds is the need of the hour, but what about retailers outside of the essential category? They need to think out of the box, like using space as a service- may be a kind of performance on stage. Retail store branding can pivot towards digital mannequins, signages, and SKU demos to allow customers seamlessly receive the product information and availability.
With contactless shopping gaining the clout in the era of social distancing, retailers can also look up to other industries that already offer similar services, in a creative way. For instance, if you can book a dinner table for 8:30, why can’t you book a shopping appointment for 5:30 at the nearest store? With consumers being more reluctant to wait in long lines and hassle-free deliveries, BOPIS model can be an effective solution.
Contact our retail audit company to get compliance checks for your retail store branding & sales operations.
Cut through the Noise with Video-Powered Communication
In order to bring an additional degree of personalization to your remote customer, face-to-face interaction through video calls will enable customers to interact with an in-store consultant in real-time. It’s more like replicating the in-store shopping experience virtually where to store agents will act as virtual shopping assistants to provide a comprehensive view of product size, fit, and quality. A quick virtual demo and/or assessment, instructing customers how exactly to use the product will bring in a human touch to keep customers engaged in a virtual world.
Virtual retailing through video calls will enable retailers to increase their geographical reach and help them cut down operating costs with lesser physical retail stores.
Immerse the Consumer in a Stimulated World- In-Store Experience with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Retailers must look to develop a virtual commerce strategy by leveraging technology to create an immersive experience. The AR technology layers virtual elements in the real world, as seen through a smartphone or tablet. However, VR technology is more exciting as it recreates a real-life setting digitally, but consumers are not yet comfortable wearing VR devices even at home or to use it beyond just playing games. Smart retailers are already leveraging AR/VR-powered retail branding services to create immersive experiences for their customers.
In-store applications would involve a consumer interacting with AR or VR either within the actual walls of a traditional retail store or even through the windows, adhering to the new normal of social distancing. On the contrary, out-of-store applications would enable consumers to connect and engage with the retailer virtually anytime, anywhere. For instance, a retailer can leverage 3D channel by virtually replicating the in-store experience and benefits.
Once you figure out an idea of where exactly to invest, whether the in-store application or out-store, recognize the customers who would like to leverage an AR or VR solution. Remember, AR & VR have the potential to address the pain points and personalize the customer experience.
Let’s Jump into the Future of Retail to create a base of Brand Loyalists
Equipping your first line retail employees with new tools and technologies is the mantra for retail success since it allows access to:
- Customer’s history and preferences to deliver an unparalleled customer experience
- Inventory levels and in-store stock to enhance the supply chain
- A digital alternative to a product that isn’t available in the store
Set concrete financial or engagement goals that ensure ‘virtual retail’ is creating value for your business. But evaluating the virtual approach at regular intervals is a must because doing so will keep you nimble-footed at meeting consumer expectations with a still-developing technology platform.