Chocolate and peanut butter. Wine and cheese. Online and offline?
Do we always have to pick a side, or do some things just work better together?
Online shopping has been the scapegoat for the demise of dozens of retailers. But the reality isn't that simple. Maybe online and offline retail aren't mortal enemies after all.
And just maybe, brick and mortar retail actually has a lot to learn from online.
If there's one thing we've learned from the most successful retailers, it's that retail is all about data. Data empowers retailers to make the right decisions - decisions that drive more conversions both online and offline. But when conversion rate increases, it's never a happy accident.
There's a science behind it, and that science is optimization.
What does it mean to optimize your conversion rate?
To optimize your conversion rate is to redesign and modify anything the customer experiences to increase the chances of a browser converting into a buyer.
A quick Google search reveals the extent of resources and technologies out there for optimizing and increasing online conversion rate. But what about the physical store?
Here are 5 popular online conversion optimization tactics that all brick and mortar stores should be stealing from their online counterparts.
1) Entice with the best possible visuals.
One study found that almost 70% of people reported online product images to be more important than descriptions, ratings and reviews for making a final choice. Shoppers don't lower their standards when they walk into a store, so retailers need to tweak and test all visual merchandising in a store until it's perfect. And then keep testing and tweaking all over again.
The catch is - enticing visuals won't optimize conversion rates unless they're consistent across stores. For this consistency to happen, retailers need a fast, easy way to communicate with stores and real-time insight into whether or not stores are compliant with visual guidelines.
2) Reduce friction in the customer journey.
When you're shopping online, you expect finding what you want, adding it to your cart and checking out to be as easy as breathing. That's because ecommerce sites have engineered everything about the customer journey through extensive research and testing.
When you're shopping online and the item you want is out of stock, you can pop in your email address to find out when it's back in. When you're shopping online, the entire checkout process - from saving your card details to convenient shipping options - has been carefully streamlined.
In stores, items out of stock and a lengthy checkout process are just as much of a deterrent as they are online. Step back and observe things from the customer's POV to remove the friction and watch conversions increase.
3) Entice with promotions and discounts.
77% of consumers say discounts influence where they shop, and 48% say discounts can speed up their decision-making process. Online, promos and discounts are a great way to keep visitors on a site when they signal their intent to leave.
Offline, running out of the store after a shopper yelling "But wait, there's 50% off!" is creepy and excessive, but visible discounts and promotions influence conversions just as much as they do online.
But for this influence to actually work, promotions and discounts have to be:
- Highly visible
- Accurate and timely
- Consistent between stores (where applicable)
For all these criteria to be met, team communications have to be simple and streamlined, so stores can make sure they're always in the know about what they should - and shouldn't - be displaying.
4) Make use of live chat.
And we don't mean the artificial intelligence or robot kind, although that does help. Store associates are the closest a retailer can get to that handy chat bar at the bottom of the screen where uncertain customers can ask a question and get an answer within minutes. Human interaction in customer service isn't dead. If it was, we all wouldn't be frantically pressing 0 to get through to a real live person from the phone company.
To make full use of store associates, they have to be able to answer questions and quickly find the answers they don't know. This is tricky without giving store associates technology. In fact, 53% of millennial respondents surveyed thought store associates lacked the proper technology to give great customer service and product recommendations. Technology gives customers the answers to all their questions - it can do the same for store associates.
5) Most importantly, measure!
You can't optimize (or improve!) what you can't measure, and that's the biggest lesson stores can steal from online shopping. What's the point of optimizing the conversion rate of your ecommerce site if it just looks pretty but doesn't drive more conversions? The same goes for stores.
If conversion rates aren't tracked in every store and compared against each other, there's no way to figure out what designs and modifications actually work in stores. There's no way for head office to make data-driven decisions, and very limited means of understanding what customers want from the in-store shopping experience.
Optimizing your in-store conversion rate requires the same detail-oriented, data-driven and methodical approach to customer experience that online does. And that means the dividing line between online and offline has become blurred.
What if you could optimize your stores as easily as your ecommerce site? YOOBIC's in-store conversion optimization platform empowers all your stores to be at their best through operational excellence, collaborative learning and streamlined team communication.