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Are In-Store Events the Key to Delivering the Retail Omnichannel Experience?

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are faced with increased financial and competitive pressures as consumers are shifting to an omnichannel, engagement-oriented, customer journey. Retailers must provide an interactive digital in-store shopping experience and have knowledgeable staff to greet their customers. Consumers are demanding more interaction when they visit a store.

Recently, BookingBug releases The Modern Consumer, research looking at shifting consumer expectations and their relationship with online and offline shopping channels. Featuring an independent survey of 2,000 consumers across the US and UK, the research study sets out to paint a picture of consumer shopping habits.

The research confirmed that shopping across multiple channels is now the norm with 73% of shoppers researching online before buying in-store and 54% researching in-store before buying online.

Online continues to grow in popularity with 37% of consumers reporting they do more online shopping than last year. However, stores are still the main buying channel for 52% of consumers in the US and 41% in the UK.

The research revealed a gap between demand and reality when it came to in-store events, with 68% of shoppers saying that they would attend hosted events by retailers, but only 23.5% have ever been invited to one.

Other research done by TimeTrade, stresses the importance of in-store retail and how it continues to dominate, however, customer experience must continuously be evolved. 

“Consumers’ increasing demand for concierge-like services is forcing retailers to improve the connection between digital and physical and put a greater focus on enhancing the in-store experience,” said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade. “Stores will remain the top shopping channel moving forward, but omnichannel retail will play a key role in driving the changing shopping experience. Retailers must evolve their approach to meet the rising expectations of today’s digitally savvy and increasingly informed consumer.”

Customer events are an amazing way to generate genuine excitement, entice new prospects and build more loyal customers for your business. However, what event concepts are both beneficial to the company and will makes people want to attend and then spread the word amongst their personal community? Some examples in the study include: product launch parties, book signings, holiday events and social / experiential events.

Successful retailers know that the most important interactions with their highest value customers thrive when handled face-to-face with well-trained experts. The challenges of identifying those services, scheduling the appropriate staff, moving more basic functions to the online experience have been serious inhibitors.

Shoosmith explains how the research findings show light at the end of the tunnel for this:

“The biggest retailers in the world have already discovered the formula to make consumer offline engagement a crucial and valuable asset — you do not need to discount prices and compromise margins to get consumers into a store but provide them with a clear reason to spend time visiting. If retailers know that customers do research in-store before buying online, then it makes sense to create services that will make that insight easy to consume.”

By Lolita A. Alford

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