Infographic: Bridging the Gap

Today, the retail experience is defined by facts and information that can be found online. While this may seem to pose a problem for in-store sales efforts, there are ways to bring the same convenience to an in-person shopping experience. By using technology such as interactive touchscreen kiosks, business leaders can create a synergistic and consistent environment that begins on the Internet and continues into the showroom, creating a smooth path to purchase.

As outlined in this infographic, technology can enable the connection between the way customers shop online and how they shop in stores. Here are six such methods:

  • Information on demand: The trend toward performing online research while in stores has become prominent in recent years, and companies can enable this process to move shoppers down the path to purchase. This could mean providing mobile-friendly websites and in-store kiosks that feature all the data a curious consumer could want. Today's buyers want to know the facts before they make a decision, so serving such content could help them choose.
  • Encourage the social experience: A customer active on social media can bring in new business for the company through his or her posts. Therefore, sellers should be sure their showrooms support social sharing. Putting up signs that urge consumers to take photos and post them online, or providing easy access to customers' social profiles, could draw new eyes to the products and bring in new waves of customers, all without large marketing expenditures.
  • All channels accounted for: If businesses aren't all over the online experience, they may not encounter many customers in person. Sticking with one or two methods of Internet outreach may put off consumers who count on many channels to make their decisions and entirely miss those who are committed to other platforms. The cure for this is to understand where consumers go on the Internet and work through several of those channels, not just one.
  • Knowing the details: If customers can access accurate, real-time facts about store inventory online, they may be more likely to pay a visit. Being vague about whether something is in stock will not have the same persuasive power. Companies must make sure the numbers are accurate as any disconnect between online inventory lists and the actual amounts could end up disappointing buyers - a major customer service mistake.
  • Uniting the channels: Some online shoppers do not wish to wait for home delivery and may prefer to purchase their items online and then pick them up in-store. In fact, websites can reflect in-store inventory so more buyers can complete their transaction online then pick up the goods at a physical store. Offering this convenient option will mean integrating digital technology and physical retail experiences closely.
  • Custom experience: Customers today want to have it their own way, and this is driving some toward buying online, despite a preference for buying in person. Well-informed retailers can put some of the custom elements back into the in-store customer experience through the deployment of technologically sound elements. Creating this connection may either meet or exceed shoppers' expectations and make shopping in a store fun and fulfilling again.