My colleague Steve Brar mentioned in his Holiday Shopping Hangover post earlier this month, that what impressed him most this past holiday season was the variety of digital experiences offered by retailers—from self-checkout using mobile devices, to having accurate package tracking data. He also noted that, as a result, his shopping experience was less stressful, which is indicative of the retailer’s success. He’s not alone.
Riverbed recently conducted its Riverbed Retail Digital Trends Survey, a global survey of 3,000 consumers from across the United States, Australia, and Germany. The message from the results was loud and clear—brick-and-mortar retailers are more apt to grow and maintain a loyal customer base if they invest in the digital experience they offer shoppers both online and in-store—and that they do it quickly.
For example, 79% of respondents believe brick-and-mortar retailers have a short, three-year window to provide shoppers with strong digital experiences in order to remain relevant. This is significantly higher than what retailers said in Riverbed’s survey last year, when 47% of retailers believed they only have three years to deliver a compelling digital shopping experience to stay competitive. If this news isn’t eye-opening enough, a vast majority (89%) of consumers say a positive digital shopping experience impacts their loyalty to a specific retailer just as much as their prices do.
2019 is a do-or-die year for retailers to make sure their digital experience efforts are well underway and working flawlessly. Why? Consumers are a retailer’s lifeline and their expectations and desires for digital experiences could define retail success for years to come. The clock is ticking.
This doesn’t mean retailers must invest in every new technology that comes along, but they do need to find the sweet spot that lives at the intersection of technology and consumer expectations. This will require having an underlying network infrastructure in place to support these digital initiatives and the ability to truly measure and manage the customer’s digital experience.
Brick-and-mortar retailers must hit ‘refresh’ on digital experience strategy
Now more than ever, brick-and-mortar retailers must reboot and revitalize their customer base using a 360-degree, engaging and effective digital experience strategy that touches their shoppers online, via mobile device, and in-store. One of the biggest problems brick-and-mortar retailers face today is declining foot traffic, which is driving closures of physical stores of multiple well-known brands. However, brick-and-mortar retailers have a huge opportunity to attract new customers to their stores, as 47% of consumers say they have specifically visited a store for the first time because of the enjoyable online digital experience that the brand provided. This number jumps to 60% for Millennial shoppers, and 57% for German consumers.
However, getting consumers in the door for the first time will require investing in new digital technologies or spaces. 68% of consumers surveyed said at least one of the following digital or in-store experiences would appeal to them enough to shop at a brick-and-mortar store for the first time:
- 36% – Automated checkout sans sales associate
- 29% – “Smart” shelves with automatic sensors that maintain inventory
- 23% – Virtual or augmented reality
- 22% – Opening a “pop up” shop in a high traffic location
But the insights from the Riverbed Retail Digital Trends Survey don’t stop there—from drone delivery, to consumers’ feelings about giving up their personal data for more customized experiences, to the consequences retailers face when they don’t deliver a positive digital experience—the study has it all. Additionally, Riverbed has a critical understanding of the digital experience and its impact on the human and customer experience, and is committed to helping retailers gain the competitive edge they need to best serve a customer base that continues to evolve as more tech-savvy and demanding.
Let’s make the most of this new retail year—with digital experiences that delight customers and keep them coming back for more!