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Rethinking Retail: How Digital Changed Shopping

May 15, 2015

The increasing use and implementation of smartphones, tablets, and digital media has no doubt reshaped our lives. The digital space has transformed the way we make purchasing decisions and use local stores—but where is the business advantage?

According to Google’s "Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping" study, more customers are beginning their purchasing process on mobile devices. Consumers spend more time researching a product before they visit the store and make their purchase. Customers use smartphones as “shopping assistants” to quickly find a particular product either online or in-store. As a result, the way retailers measure success should be re-evaluated.

How does it add up?

1. The line has blurred between in-store and online. Focus on the sale, and not where it happens. Online activity can draw customers to your brick-and-mortar store. Major retailers like REI and Sephora are using mobile and in-store “blends” to offer customers in-store pickup and product availability at nearby locations. One study shows that half of consumers visit a store within a day of a local search on their phone.

How does your business appear in search engine results? Is the address and contact information correct? Services like Yext allow businesses to quickly manage how their location appears across multiple sites.

Is your website easy to navigate on both a tablet and a phone? Does your app or site accurately depict in-store product information? Embrace mobile customers as a new target audience with different needs and expectations.

2. Rethink your sales measurements. Businesses that utilize a blend of mobile-optimized shopping experience with in-store offerings require different sales measurements. Major retailers like Macy’s have eliminated sales team silos between digital and in-store. Understanding where conversions happen provides valuable insight on how to attract new customers, as well as where to allocate resources. Leverage your conversion metrics to optimize your customer services or sales teams appropriately.

Case Study: Nordstrom’s Digital Strategy
Retailer Nordstrom’s integrated digital capabilities give the company a distinct advantage. The target of each investment in the digital space? To provide a fabulous customer experience. The company has grown their revenues by more than 50% in the last five years. Here are a few of the company’s strategies for blending online and traditional channels:

> A new point-of-sale system enabling associates to track individual customer requests.

> Engagement with customers through popular social apps, like Pinterest. Items in the store are marked with the Pinterest logo to link the online and offline spaces.

> Mobile checkout in stores that allows employees to take customers through the process without sending them to a register.

> Nordstrom.com and the Nordstrom app are linked to the inventory management system so customers can find what they want in one place.

The Takeaways: Design the digital experience and business model with purpose. Organize and maintain product and customer data to be easily accessed through digital capabilities. Integrate digital capabilities with all parts of your business.

Sterling National Bank offers merchant accounts and credit card resources. To learn more about custom financial solutions at Sterling, call your relationship manager or Client Services at 855.274.2800.