From bricks to clicks to bricks – How do we bridge the gap?

The O2O gap is less about channels and more about experiences.

Industry experts have been preaching that the demise of brick-and-mortar stores has been imminent since the birth of its more convenient, more competitive and information abundant sibling, e-commerce. The simple truth is that customers want to save time and money and have better shopping experiences. On the other hand, retailers want to retain and convert customers, increase operational efficiency and stand out from competitors.

So the pressure is on for brick-and-mortar stores to bridge the gap from online to offline and between customer and retailer needs to attract customers back into the physical space. A study of millennials by Eventbrite revealed that more than 3 out of 4 millennials would rather spend money on experiences than on products or services alone.

Interactive experiences are the key.

Evidently, in order to bridge the gap, we must bring the digital world into stores and provide customers with an interactive and immersive experience. The modern customer wants more for less and the only way to fulfil their demands is to engage them in a meaningful way and maximise the value of every interaction.

Interactive experiences enable two-way communication between the retailer and the customer, shifting from an information feeding and passive absorption dynamic, to an engaging conversation. When, what and how the customer chooses to interact is up to them, thus the experience is entirely customised to their intents. In turn, this elevates customer satisfaction and ultimately their loyalty and retention.

Creating an interactive customer experience doesn’t just benefit customers, it also generates valuable data for the retailer, enabling powerful analytics on customer behaviour and intent. Interactions also increase the impact of a marketing message and provides a means to measure current efficacy. Consequently, this reveals previously unattainable insights that enable an additional level of personalisation, greater conversions and differentiation from competitors.

So what type of experiential technology maximises ROI?

Dozens of new technologies are spun out every year but quickly lose their buzz and become obsolete. In order to stay relevant, utility for both customers and sales staff must be kept at the core of the solution. The technology must aim to minimise friction in the shopping process for customers and empower sales staff to provide the most optimised service .

For example, take data off the dashboard, make it more consumable by placing it in the hands of sales staff through a handheld device. This equips them with the contextual information necessary to make personalised suggestions where purchase decisions are made and hence can be influenced– on the store floor.

For apparel retail, fitting rooms are a crucial part of the shopping journey. By enabling customers to complete the purchase from within the fitting room, the gap in time between when they decide to make a purchase and when they complete the purchase is eliminated, thus minimising the time they have to change their mind. Applications of smart fitting rooms by Rebecca Minkoff in New York have proved to increase sales threefold.