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Bringing the In-Store Experience to Online Stores

There’s a reason they call shopping an experience, so how can retailers maintain it online?

While online shopping offers customers the convenience of being able to shop whenever and wherever, there are certain elements that brick-and-mortar offers that online doesn’t. But don’t let this get you down. We’ve put together the top five things that comprise an in-store experience and found the online solution. The only thing we’re really missing is that new store smell…oh wait, that’s car isn’t it? Well, in that case, we’ve just about got it covered.

Here are five lessons an ecommerce store can learn from brick-and-mortar:

1. Design and Draw Them In

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For brick-and-mortar retailers, their store design and layout is the first line of action for bringing in new customers. From exemplifying a minimalistic feel to decor centered around American garage sales, a store’s design gives it personality. Online retailers can also apply this idea when they design their stores. While keeping it visually appealing and easily navigable should still be the top priorities, retailers can construct their page around a central theme and keep their brand memorable and fresh.

2. Make it Accessible and Attract

You know when you walk into a store and there’s always something that always seems to catch your eye? It’s the brand new leather jacket or maybe those nude leather pumps…and you feel like it’s just calling your name? Well that wasn’t on accident. Years of research and study have gone into product displays and floor arrangements and it has the ability to make or break a product’s success.

Product searches are just as important. Online retailers should optimize their searches so consumers can find desired products easily and have a more efficient shopping experience. e-tailing group’s 14th Annual Merchant Survey found that 83% of online retailers believe that “making it easier to find products with enhanced onsite search relevance and sort options” is one of the most important merchandising tactics in order to retain customers. This is just like placing the hot new item right in the main walkway of the store, it attracts more and as a result sells more.

3. “Hi, How Can I Help You?”

One of the greatest assets of a brick-and-mortar establishment is the salespeople. From their immediate greeting of, “Hello, welcome to our store!” to “Thank you so much for shopping with us today,” sales associates let customers know that they are available at all times. While you can’t have salespeople present during online shopping, you can mimic their presence. By installing a chat option onto your website, you’re letting customers know that you are at their fingertips, eager to help with any questions or concerns.

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Whether it be asking a salesperson or a fellow shopper, when purchasing items in-store, customers are able to ask for a second opinion. Online retailers can also generate an avenue of feedback for online shoppers by listing customer feedback and ratings under product descriptions. This gives consumers additional insight into how the products may feel and work, helping them determine their purchase decision.

4. Try It On-Line

Customers love shopping in-store because not only are they able to touch the goods, they are able to inspect it down to the very last stitch. Online retailers should give customers this opportunity by providing zoomable, high-definition photos from every angle. They can also upload tutorials or videos demonstrating the product. There is software out there that even allows for 360 degree view.

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Not being able to try-on clothes and other accessories is perhaps the greatest obstacle when shopping online. While there is no concrete solution, technology has significantly eased the pain. Online retailers can now include interactive tools such as virtual models and configurators. Merchants like Warby Parker have also included virtual try-ons for their glasses, where customers can upload a headshot and place various frames on their face. Giving customers a virtual model is essentially presenting them with a portable fitting room, without the hassle of having to change in and out of clothes.

5. From BOGO to End of The Season

There is no arguing that customers love sales. From BOGO to end of the season sales, customers are eager to get good deals, even if that means waking up at 6am. Look at Black Friday, who wouldn’t want a 32 inch TV for only $129? During sales, brick-and-mortar retailers are able to change prices to clear out old inventory and generate more foot traffic. Online retailers should do this too by implementing dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing allows retailers to change their prices according to real-time supply and demand. This means that retailers are able to markdown prices when demand is low to increase sales velocity. On the other hand, when sales are booming, you can increase prices for more profit per item.

What are other elements of in-store shopping that online retailers need to incorporate?

Contributing Writer: Amanda Lin

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Arie Shpanya

Arie is the former COO, Executive Chairman, and Co-Founder of Wiser, a dynamic pricing and merchandising engine for online retailers and brands. He has extensive experience in business development with a focus on eCommerce (eBay and Amazon), and is a guest blogger on Econsultancy, VentureBeat, and more.

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