The current consensus in the retail industry is that despite the decline in in-store sales, 2019 will not mark the death of the physical store. Instead, it will happily co-exist with a digital ecosystem, serving as an add-on and extension to services like online ordering and in-store pickup, reservations and services, store location and more. While much of the retail analysis focuses on investing in digital commerce, delivery, and fulfillment, often at the expense of physical retail sales, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. Here’s how five retailers are relaunching the store digitally.
In-store services reserved online
The luxury cosmetics brand Estee Lauder is using his website to bolster its reputation for luxury and convenience by allowing UK customers to book services such as full makeup looks or makeup classes, skin care consultations and tryouts. The consultations allow the brand, which sells mainly in department stores and online, to better define its history and to get closer to its buyers. For retailers with their own physical locations, it provides a wealth of buyer data to improve ad targeting, but also a new reason to visit the store. More importantly, it helps customers see a shopping trip as more than just a necessary chore, turning it into a ritual of self-care instead.
Market platforms for service reservations
These online platforms are another option for small retailers and brands, which lack the opportunity to invest in large-scale digital transformation projects. Platforms like Appointed, BookingBugand others allow small business owners to benefit from both the marketing appeal and convenience of pre-booked services. These services are low-code plug-and-play options that when used in conjunction with a well-organized, inspirational-focused store can help rekindle shoppers’ interest and foot traffic.
A powerful O2O rewards program
In 2018, US retailer Walgreens (part of Walgreens Boots Alliance) launched its Balance Rewards Program – a loyalty points system with a touch. Through collaborations with fitness trackers such as MapMyFitness, the rewards program gives shoppers additional loyalty points to spend in-store on healthy choices like exercise, eat well, and quit smoking.
The benefits of influencer marketing have been widely touted and many retailers are aware of the power of a good Instagram celebrity or YouTuber endorsement to drive conversions online. In May 2018, British sportswear start-up Gymshark collaborated with longtime ambassador Nikki Blacketter – a YouTube and Instagram influencer – on a named collection. The Nikki Blacketter x Gymshark collection has also been promoted in pop-up stores in London, New York and Los Angeles. Blacketter’s attendance at events drew thousands of enthusiastic fans in total, and the collection (the second named collaboration between Blacketter and the brand) sold out within days. The appeal of online influencer marketing is unmistakable at this point. However, retailers still underuse the bond influencers have with their fans face to face.
Use online services to improve the in-store experience
Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has been at the forefront of digital innovation for some time. This particular feature does not fall under the traditional definition of e-commerce, but it integrates digital and physical seamlessly, which really emphasizes customer needs. The Virtual Trip Planner allows customers to simplify their trip, map the exact location of items, check availability, and get in and out quickly and efficiently. It takes the aspect of the trip that most IKEA shoppers hate – product discovery – out of the noisy and busy store and makes shoppers feel better and safer about their trip. This way the customer can focus on the arduous task of finding the product they need and free themselves to find additional items to increase their purchase. The dedicated mobile app and AR capabilities show how IKEA understands mobile as a platform and its potential to really help the shopper.