Customer expectations are driving the evolution
The retail landscape is changing faster than ever. What defined a great shopping experience ten years ago is different from today, and it will be transformed again within the next decade. But giving your customers the best shopping experience today means figuring out exactly what they need.
Consumer buying behaviour is driving the need for retailers to offer real time product visibility and availability. We are seeing the rise of a new breed of shopper: someone we call the ‘Instagrat’ consumer. ‘Instagrat’ consumers represent a growing proportion of modern shoppers who demand convenience and use digital research to find the best possible solution for their needs.
Their priorities are:
- Hassle-free purchases
- Instant stock availability
- Competitive prices
Retailers have been forced to evolve new practices which satisfy these needs and desires. And that is where “Instant Stock in Store” and “Click & Collect” has become a game changer.
“Instant Stock in Store” combined with “Click & Collect” means:
- Shoppers can see exactly what stock you have in all your stores.
- Availability is updated in real time.
- Shoppers can pick up available items instantly.
The customer’s buying journey is omni-channel
The vast majority of today’s shoppers start their buying journeys online. It’s the fastest way to get reliable information on which products and suppliers can best meet their needs at the right price.
However, there’s a misconception that because shoppers research online, that they always complete their purchase online. The prevailing wisdom is that this gives pure e-commerce companies an advantage those with bricks and mortar stores—and that’s not quite right.
When it comes to completing purchases online, there is often perceived friction from the shopper:
- “I can’t touch or feel the product. What if it looks different in real life?”
- “I don’t want to wait for delivery. And what if they come while I’m out?”
- “It’s such a hassle to return items I don’t like.”
So naturally they’re now demanding the best of both worlds: consumers want to research and find available products online (Live Stock in Store) but visit nearby physical stores to check the products before taking them home (Click & Collect).
This is the new gold standard for Instagrat shoppers.
“Instagrat” customer experience – the new gold standard
With Live Stock in Store displayed on the website, you’ll experience a higher percentage of in-store visitors with serious purchase intent, and fewer wandering ‘pedestrians’. Each of these visits also provides a cross-sell opportunity to increase basket size.
In terms of long-term customer value, in-store visits are perfect for nurturing stronger customer loyalty and relationships. And best of all, we’re seeing shoppers favour retailers offering both of these services—even when it’s not the cheapest option.
And that all makes sense. But a well-managed Live Stock in Store and Click & Collect experience also delivers something unexpected: better conversion rates for online visitors.
How does that work?
Look at it this way: if all you display online is inventory specifically reserved e-commerce, and you run out of a desired item, you definitely lose that sale. The visitor is gone. Over time, these lost opportunities will be costly.
But if you can say, “Hey, this item is in stock at a store close to your house, and you can pick it up right now,” then you’re nailing at least that sale. Possibly more with your in-store cross selling.
This approach lets you leverage all of the inventory from all of your stores, provides more purchase options to customers, and maximises your odds of a successful sale.
Powered by true “live data”
Providing this level of customer experience makes intuitive sense and we’ve seen how powerful it is in practice. But we’ve also seen how it can fail without the right infrastructure. When we say Instant Stock in Store, we mean accurate to the second. When we say real-time Click & Collect, we mean customers can collect their items now—not tomorrow, not this afternoon, but right now.
And of course, your website needs to automatically display the nearest locations for both of these services.
Failing to provide real-time inventory levels across all store locations means you can’t deliver this gold standard service. And trust us: your customers will always find another retailer that does.
So what’s next for you?
Perfecting your Instant Stock in Store and real-time Click & Collect experience will set you on the path to increased market share and sales. You’ll experience heavier in-store foot traffic that results in healthier margins and a higher average basket price. You’ll even build more loyalty with your shoppers.
But only if you can deliver this service with instant and real-time data across all your stores and stock locations.
At Retail Express we work with hundreds of clients who have achieved incredibly positive results from their Instant Stock in Store and Click & Collect services. To find out how other retailers in your category have successfully implemented this strategy, simply register for a free interactive screenshare today.