Brick and mortar stores are going no where if they embrace digitalisation

Eva Martín, Chief Executive Officer, Tiendeo

From food to electronics, all the way to clothing, DIY and furniture, the digitization of shopping is a reality thanks to the fact that our lives have been moved onto smart phones.

This aspect is something that has accelerated considerably in recent years and has found a natural catalyst and a new means of connecting with consumers in technology.

With relaxed pandemic measures, the brick and mortar store is not losing supremacy.

This is due to the agility by the main players in physical commerce with determined commitment to an omnichannel experience that includes digitization of the customer journey.

In just a few years, retailers have evolved and reinvented themselves to offer their customers an integrated experience that cannot be compared to the pre-COVID world.

Digital is king in retail, even in the physical store

6 out of 10 clients shop in the physical store, yet 93% of clients search for their products online before making a purchase. How should retailers evolve to adapt to digital clients?

Eva Martín, the Chief Executive Officer of Tiendeo, a platform specialising in drive-to-store solutions and digital catalogues, says that it’s important to follow these two trends.

“First, the digital consumer wants full access to all the information available like prices, products, availability, services, the ability to chat with an advisor and make an appointment.”

“The physical store must guarantee this shopping experience, otherwise the possibility of influencing consumers’ decisions and consequently sales may be lost,” she explains.

“Second, consumers want a completely frictionless experience at the point of sale.”

“Businesses, regardless of size, need to avoid long waits, excessive checkout queues, and offer shopping alternatives so that the customer is empowered and makes the best purchase decision using the smartphone as a core element in their decision-making process.”

Home to rich and immersive brand experiences

Despite the digital revolution, visiting the physical store is still an experience that allows consumers to connect with store staff: advisors who help them choose what type of garment might suit them best or the most suitable food products for their diet.

Physical retail is moving from the transactional, where only buying and selling takes place, to a network between the consumer, brand and its community with a clear socialising role.

“No one can take away all the strengths of the store.”

“At the end of the day, we are individuals looking to engage with other people looking for excitement, but with digital shopping the consumer has learned to utilise the best of both worlds to create a seamless and enhanced shopping experience.”

“The physical store has to adapt to these emerging trends by adding technology as a pivotal element in its communication strategy with the consumer.”

“The mistake would be to think that they are mutually exclusive, when in fact they are complementary, since the union of both generates omnichannel and unique shopping experiences, which open the doors to a more innovative and competitive future.”

Despite what it may seem, physical commerce will not disappear, but will have to reinvent itself and adapt to the phygital concept, a fusion of the physical and the digital.

‘Phygital’ emerged in response to changes in the physical store and consumer demands. It’s a transformation of physical points of sale with new technologies in the processes.

Phygital is a real opportunity for physical stores to recover as it stimulates the customer’s senses and immerses them in a fluid environment in which shopping is facilitated.

As a result, the customer experience is enhanced and brand loyalty is increased.

Investing in technology to create unique experiences

Incorporating phygital means reinventing the store model through the use of digital technologies such as local advertising campaigns to attract customers to the point of sale.

Use of digital technologies enhances the image of the brand or the physical store, offering new high value-added services for the consumer like accessing product information, checking product availability, finding out prices from a barcode or even checking loyalty points.

It should be noted that customers are less willing to spend time searching for items in-store. Purchasing any item using digital devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs)  is easier than ever.

Consumers can choose the product and decide on the pick-up method by going to the physical point of sale, receiving it at home or reserving and paying for it at the point of sale.

Different delivery methods increase the consumer’s flexibility in collecting and paying.

Another example is the interactive catalogues that attract the consumer’s attention with their promotions on any type of device, with the aim of creating a fully unified experience, integrating immediacy with the experience at the point of travel through the Customer Journey.

An engaging, personalised and even immersive experience where interaction plays a key role. The retail sector is in the midst of a major transformation process globally.

It is no longer just a matter of trying to integrate the digital world into the real world, but of reshaping the real world in the image of the digital world, adopting its codes, languages and logics, with the aim of creating integrated experiences that combine the best of both worlds.

Stores must combine their business with the possibilities of the digital world to generate unique, personalised and frictionless experiences during the consumer’s shopping process.