Is “retailtainment” the future of brick-and-mortar?

Is “retailtainment” the future of brick-and-mortar?

Experiential retail

“retailtainment” is the future of brick-and-mortar

 

 

Reading time: 7 minutes

Just shopping was yesterday. Today we want to experience something real: feel, see, test, exchange with others, discover and explore.

The concept of pure supply trade works fine via online shops as we all had to experience in times of the pandemic and its lockdowns. However, this applies primarily for goods and services with everyday use since the purchasing decisions for them are made rationally. Emotions and experiences connected to the purchase are playing a subordinate role.

Presenting products in a store and waiting full of hope for the next customer is no longer sufficient for any retailer today (Link Missing customers in store). Retailers started gaining awareness of a large number of different customers, a change in the consumers behavior towards an increased online activity and the various needs and desires that come with it.

Due to the extensive use and growth of the e-commerce the brick-and-mortar was treated as obsolete already years ago. In response, major brands (e.g. Nike or Zara) turned their strategies into experiential retail ones to revitalize the customer experience in physical stores. These strategies focus less on sales than on creating pleasant and unique experiences for the consumer – a key to brand loyalty and customer relation.

The quality of the stay, the convenience and the desire for an experience as well as for social interactions drive the consumer to the city center, in physical stores. Especially now after a long time of waiting when shops, cafes, restaurants and beer gardens are reopening, people are longing for that special atmosphere that simply does not exist online. According to the Global consumer behavior survey from March 2021 in-store shopping remains the first choice, although consumers supposedly got used to online shopping.

In order to cope with the changed customer behavior of the largest consumer group, the millennials and generation Z and their affinity for technology, retailers must try to reposition the integration of local stores into the customer journey. In the first place these are engaging experiences which cannot be reproduced online. Potential customers should be provided with sensual experiences which turn stationary retail into the so-called “Third place” through emotional enrichment. In addition to where we live and work, the Third place is the one where we spend our free time, relax, feel good and have fun. As a retailer, how do I design such a Third place that invites customers to stay and shop?

Prioritize customer loyalty – not sales

“Recommended for you”, “product available again” or “you might also like..:” – we all know automated emails and personalized offers generated from intelligent algorithms of online shops – after our data is stored or at least a search history exists. Why does brick-and-mortar retail not make use of such data? Does a local retailer actually know his/her customers? Does he/she know what is exciting for his/her customers, what attracts them and can he/she tailor his/her communication specifically to their needs and maybe even personalize it for each person?

Therefore, the first step should be collecting your customers’ data. What used to be laborious and only possible in personal conversations and using handwritten lists can now be done over various touchpoints – both online and offline. The collected data allows you to collect feedback from your customers more quickly and easily. Consequently, you do not only gain more visibility and attention, but also other useful data. Knowledge and understanding of your customers is the base for you to tell a story which wants to be experienced – adapted to regions, target groups or your concept. This storytelling can occur in different ways – online or visually in your store. The consolidation of the collected customer data in your storytelling enables a seamless and surprising experience for your customers.

Customers determine the success of any company. Focus entirely on your customers, their wishes and expectations and offer them entertaining, unique and personal experiences that lift shopping to a new level.

Stimulate the customers’ senses and create experiences worth the share

“It’s colorful, it smells nice, it is interactive, something is happening, I’ve never experienced anything like that” – your customer should experience something like this while walking through your store. He/she should remember, talk about and share it. Your storytelling, adapted to the needs of your target group, should not only be reflected online, but particularly in the store experience and should be perceived by your customers as immersive, noteworthy and therefore memorable.

This can be represented by a wide variety of incentives – depending on the business and target group: theme worlds, gastronomy concepts, guest WIFI, digital in-store maps, interactive designs e.g. through displays, comfortable sitting areas, in-store events or some networking with partners (fashion shows, lectures, live music, etc.).

Th big brands are demonstrating how to do it: Space Ninety 8 is a retail space over 5 floors combining everything an adventurous consumer desires: retailers, galleries, restaurants and bars, yoga courses and much more. Vans unites everything the brand stands for in London under one roof respectively in underground tunnels: art, music, BMX, street culture and skateboarding. Not only did it generate public attention, the initiative also helped Vans to strengthen its reputation as the premium skate brand within the community. Farfetch was awarded as “Retailer of the future” thanks to its augmented reality solution in their London store: mirrors with touchscreens and terminals that provide customers insights in their shopping history and wish lists are just some of many features.

The equation is simple: the longer the stay and the more unique the experience, the higher the turnover and the recommendation rate or customer loyalty. Memories appealing to our five senses have a greater recognition factor. Link the values that you want to transfer with your shop or product with the experiences: enjoyment, fun, health, luxury, sportiness, naturalness, environmental awareness. You do not have to spend huge amounts of money to achieve this. Experiential retail is above all about a personalized, incomparable shopping experience

Merge online and offline

Online? Offline? Do I have to be online at all with my brick-and-mortar retail when the shops are open? Go beyond the lines of your store and use the advantages of the online world. The silver bullet is of course to connect both worlds. Online and offline can go hand in hand – the right technology is key here as well. The leading brands are investing in developing their omnichannel strategies since years. Also, the local retailer should react to the shifting customer behavior accelerated by Covid-19 and involve the consumer in the choice of channel and strengthen their digital engagement.

Anyone who cannot be found is not happening. This has never been more valid in the digital space. Not only do consumers search specifically for products or shops online, they also decide which store to go to based on the online presence on social media & Co. and other users’ reviews. Business profiles on Google or Facebook, live streaming and buy-online-pick-up-in-store services or to virtual and augmented reality – there are plenty imaginable online services to use.

However, it is all about quality over quantity. Present yourself online just like you do in your store. Catch your customers’ attention by telling your story here too.

Ikea demonstrated how to: 100 participants of a Facebook competition were allowed to spend a night in one of Ikea’s stores. The “Sleepover Contest” was supposed to be a personalized experience for the 100 winners – from the mattress to the cover – this campaign achieved more visibility and attention than any paid commercial could have done.

Form a community around your store or your product – the storytelling and the entertainment factor associated with it will unite people with a similar mindset whose interests and commitments will have a boomerang effect.

Employees as brand ambassadors

To implement technology with the goal of bridging the gap between in-store and online presence you need to evaluate first what your customers want based on the insights of your store employees. They interact directly with your customers during the consultation and are after all also the ones who will later work with a possible solution in the daily business. With the right solution, you and your team will quickly recognize not only the advantage in customer acquisition and bonding, but also an improved productivity within the team.

Functioning as the eyes and ears of your shop, your employees are the main part of the reinvention for the experiential retail. Given the new consumer behavior and additional sales methods and channels, talented salespeople can use digital solutions to strengthen customer loyalty and contribute to the long-term success of your company. Other industries such as financial services or healthcare show how a digital solution can support an increasing engagement and performance of teams that work “at the front lines” and enable at the same time customers to meet the experiences they want.

Experiential retail is more relevant than ever. Due to the pandemic and months of lockdowns, some inner cities seem like one of a ghost town, even though many retailers have tried to survive the crisis through online presences and with special services.

Especially now with people starving for face-to-face interactions and feeling a completely new need for personal exchange experiential retail plays a crucial role, if retailers want to gain a decisive advantage over (online) competitors. Your customers and their commitment is the highest priority in experiential retail. Sales will follow with friendly, competent salespeople and good services automatically – through the loyalty of your satisfied customers.

The availability of digital solutions strengthens your team and prepares the way for the future of retailtainment for you and your shop. Find out which easy-to-use solution we offer you.

Jasmin Janson

Marketing & Communication Manager mPocket

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How automated solutions can help in retail

How automated solutions can help in retail

Automated solutions in brick-and-mortar retail

Why automation can save retail right now, with digital natives and changing shopping behaviour

 

 

Reading time: 7 minutes

Familiar mainly from mechanical and electrical engineering automated solutions are used wherever technical processes in machines or systems can be replaced by artificial systems and facilitate human labour. These systems, follow a program independently, make decisions based on that program and, if necessary, regulate processes, signify most of all an increase of productivity and efficiency. Manual processes which are usually done by workers are no longer required due to the increased use of machines. This is speeding up processes and work steps whilst the amount of work is reduced. Automation systems are also already being used in the wholesale sector, for example for the inventory and checking the stock or for controlling price inconsistencies.

How can such an automation be used in brick-and-mortar where the human relationship between seller and customer is crucial for sales and therefore for the success of a company? How can a consultation on a personal and individual level take place when this automation defines independent processes of certain work? Doesn’t that mean losing exactly why we go to the shop around the corner? The shopping experience, advice from experts and contact with the product itself cannot be replaced by a machine or even a robot?

Automation as the response to a new shopping behaviour

In order to not only survive, but thrive despite all the difficulties in brick-and-mortar, which has already been declared as dead, retailers must actively adapt to the changed shopping behaviour of customers. Not online shopping itself has grown significantly, there is a general trend in consumer behaviour towards more online activity and digitization which is also affecting brick-and-mortar retail. The purchase decision shifted and is made already before customers enter a store: 87% of customers worldwide inform themselves extensively online about products and the stores themselves, read reviews, ask questions in advance regarding availability, functionality and alternatives. Brick-and-mortar has a decisive advantage over e-commerce though: the sensory experience.

However, the digital transformation should be taken as an opportunity by local retailers. Since consumers are increasingly able to shop anytime and anywhere the way to a store must be justified for a good reason – they expect a significant technological advance also there.

Critical for these expectations and constantly change needs of customers is a fast reaction. Accompany your customers’ journey all the way, from start to end. This might be through automated review requests, reminders about product availability and contract extensions or simply an automatically sent birthday email. In this way you will not only keep yourself and your business in your customers’ mind and build a long-term relationship with them, but you will also generate more visibility and gain prominence and popularity. But let’s not stop there: Todays’ customers, the so-called digital natives, want to be able to keep control at any time: Not only for researching online before entering the store, also in the store via mobile devices by scanning QR codes, paying directly at the sales clerk without long queues at the checkout and also when choosing the platform for reviews and feedback or for logging in to free guest WIFI’s.

Digitization and possible automation are shaping the customer journey today. Don’t miss the possibility of reinventing your classical stationary shop. Make it a place that enables a connected shopping experience. Digital technologies make it possible to automatically and individually customize offers according to the needs of your customers. With the help of a digital application, you can achieve a more effective and efficient approach towards your customer and create loyalty.

Automation enables efficient work processes

Have you ever been lost in a store and searched almost desperately for a free sales person because you did not find some product or had questions about it? Did you leave the store that day due to lack of time and were upset about the only and constantly occupied salesperson?

Both sides benefit from the advantages of an intelligent automation solution: A seamless, convenient, eventful and fast shopping experience for the customer on one hand and an optimization of the work flow for the retailer on the other. So, your employees can focus on relevant tasks such as consulting customer instead of being distracted by other tasks.

Exceptional service, including expert advice from competent sales people, is one of the best ways for retailers to connect with customers and deliver a first-class experience – your team is your ambassador. However, nowadays sales people are involved in many other jobs around the actual sale. In order to reduce repetitive and distracting tasks in sales to a minimum and support your team, an additional worker in the form of a “digital employee” is the solution. 

This already starts with collecting customer data – by logging in your shops guest WIFI, after their agreement basic customer data is automatically collected and can be assigned or completed by further (online) interactions. The time-consuming maintenance of a customer database is obsolete for you and your teammates. Product reservations, reminders about contract extensions or review requests can be noted quickly for a certain customer and are automatically sent at the right time or will be processed as a to-do. Specific customers and tasks can be assigned to free sales persons. Easier access to product and customer information or their purchase history during the consultation increases the quality and results in a better sales rate.

Speed, promising advice and problem solving, real-time answers, customization and additional services are a requirement for every company today. According to the 13th annual Global Shopper Study, 76% of consumers want to shop as fast as possible and are convinced that the use of technology can support a secure and pleasant shopping experience.

The concern of losing the personal relationship between retailer and customer or irritating the customer is unsubstantiated. By adapting these automated messages, reminders, etc. to the personal sales style of yours or by individualization to each customer, the feeling of exclusivity will be strengthened even more.

By moving to automation, brick-and-mortar retail can make staff available to offer shopping experiences that increase in-store frequency and growth. Use the possibility of automating certain processes through digitization within your team and in the interaction with your customers. You will have the potential to bring your customer focus and services to a completely new level.

Automation transforms omni-channel shopping into a seamless experience

Increasing networking is particularly evident for the touchpoints with the customer – the consumer 4.0 can be characterized by extended demands. In order to differentiate, brick-and-mortar has to adapt to these demands and provide attractive offers -especially in online-affine industries such as consumer electronics and fashion.

Not only formats or product portfolios which are tailored for a particular audience must be offered, but also the possibility of a seamless, cross-channel shopping experience and technologies that guarantee convenience. Your customer wants to be able to choose which channel to use to get in contact with you. In parallel the same services like in-store are expected on all other channels. Services with an added value such as Click & Collect, Click & Reserve and Self-Checkout as well as extraordinary digital features in the store itself, e.g., paperless receipts when paying with a mobile device or product information when scanning QR codes, are highly demanded. Further product recommendations after leaving the shop can convince also those customers who generally tend to shop online. The usage of in-store technologies makes your products more tangible and supply real-time offers for your customers. According to a worldwide study, 59% of all consumers would reconsider their choice within the local stores in favour of a retailer with automation technology.

Connecting of sales channels and integrating in-store technologies is essential for brick-and-mortar retail as well as designing them user-friendly and automating them as much as possible. Your focus should always be on your customers – they decide which channel they prefer and use, which promotes a holistic shopping experience and meets customer expectations. The omni-channel approach enables the intelligent linking of local stores and online channels and creates a decisive competitive advantage. The result is a seamless customer journey and consequently a stronger customer loyalty, a higher recommendation rate and better sales.

Customer engagement, which increases the level of popularity on one hand and involves consumers themselves as a source of ideas on the other, is playing an increasingly important role for brands and stores – no retailer should miss to get customers back to the stores with automation.

Not only customer relationship management, in-store and after-sales services as well as marketing are subject of significant change. Various processes also in purchasing, logistics and administration are important for the future competitiveness of local retail.

The future retail will perform data-based, intelligent customer relations – not just in stores, but across all channels, so customers can experience the products at any time and any place. With this combination, local retail has a clear advantage compared to e-commerce.

Automation solutions as a factor of success in brick-and-mortar have many facets: robots, mobile devices, processes using RFID, shelf cameras or intelligent data analysis.

We are glad to give you further details on our solution and demonstrate to you how only one application can automize your business. Digitized, automated, centralized – get ready for the future and growth in brick-and-mortar retail.

Jasmin Janson

Marketing & Communication Manager mPocket

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What does good customer service mean these days?

What does good customer service mean these days?

What does good customer service mean these days?

Explained in 3 steps how customer service 4.0 works.

 

 

Reading time: 8 minutes

Are you confident to advise your customer well and offer services in the best possible way? You keep your customer consultation in the same way as you have always done, because why ever change a running system? Your customers appreciate your service since it is personal, direct and “always” available during the opening hours?

Outstanding customer service already ensured in the former corner shops that customers are satisfied and make recommendations to family and friends. Even today 74% of all customers show loyalty to a brand or a company when they are satisfied.

But the rules of the game fundamentally changed for brick-and-mortar stores as a result of e-commerce and younger, future generations and their digital mindset. With constant access to information online, your customer is better informed than ever, expects all-in-one support before, during and after the purchase and is not shy to switch to a competitor immediately when his requirements are not met.

Your customers are able to order the product any time online or sign the mobile contract by themselves. What if the product has a defect, does not fit or simply does not meet the expectations? What if the completion of the necessary documents fails? Your customers have to deal with cancellations, returns and the fact of unavailability or finding a replacement by themselves.

A local retailer takes the time, explains the desired product, recommends better alternatives, maybe even knows the customers purchasing history and can provide additional advice. This is exactly what makes your store different compared to those where customers are just an anonymous number.

How can a small or medium-sized company meet the changed expectations of the customer in the digital age while maintaining the traditional, proven and personal customer service? How does customer service 4.0 work?

1. Visibility and availability 24/7

Your customer should be the centre of your actions and thoughts. Today’s customers start shopping long before they enter your shop, if they even know about it. They inform themselves online about possible products and compare the local shops as well online. But what if these customers don’t know your shop? How can you make sure your potential customers find you, and also come back?

Being easy to find as well as a good visibility online – wherever your customers happen to be right now – have become vital also for the brick-and-mortar. This does not necessarily require an online shop – rather, digital touchpoints, for establishing contact and interaction, are of decisive importance for an incentive to buy.

In addition, real-time interactions with the retailer are becoming increasingly important. The customers got used to the convenience of real-time answers and advice of the online shops and expect the same manner from the shop around the corner.

Your customers want to be able to communicate and interact with you in the same way they do with family and friends – they want to choose the way and extent of their contacts by themselves. So, do not neglect any chance for communication – this is how you ensure that you offer your customer the experience they want, the one which differentiates you from your competitors.

The opportunities to get in touch and to stay in contact with potential and existing customers increased significantly. Next to the traditional consultations in person, the ones via video calls or social media did not only gain popularity during the pandemic. In addition to the consultations also requests and reviews are growing over all channels. The touchpoints with your customers are going far beyond the personal contact in-store.

How to do this with plenty of possible channels?” That is what many small business owners will now ask themselves, especially those who have had little to nothing to do with social media & Co. so far.

Many roads lead to the customer. With the help of just one digital solution, you can merge seamlessly all profiles in one inbox and integrate other communication channels such as SMS or email as well, without switching between different apps or profiles. Leave the choice to your customer how to contact or rate you – your customer will feel taken seriously thanks to this freedom of choice and note it as a positive experience.

2. Data documentation & service individualization

You call your customers by name and know their preferences, interests and their shopping behaviour? You know which shoe size your customer is wearing or when his or her phone contract expires? You and your team can keep all this in mind? Does that also apply to those customers which are visiting your shop for the very first time? Today, data is the most important driver, not only for statistics, but also for targeted and personalized consultation and sales to provide customers a positive and remarkable shopping experience and build long-term customer loyalty.

The traditional way to collect your customers data like name, email address or mobile phone number is the personal one, for example during the consultation. Once saved, they can be used for all further review requests, surveys, newsletters and others. However, there are many more touchpoints during the shopping experience which help you and your team to gather exactly these data: more and more customers use social media also for the search and the selection of local shops. Social media is not only an excellent way for users to share, communicate and network, but also for you to find out what your customers value and promote your store as well as respond to each customer individually. User-generated content is becoming more and more popular thanks to Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Take every opportunity to collect the data by using each possible touchpoint along the customer journey. 83% of consumers are willing to share their personal data when they believe it will lead to personalization .

With mPocket, all your profiles can be centralized in just one application, so that you don’t lose track of the multitude of platforms. Additionally, the application can be used in-store for collecting data: provide your customers a free guest WIFI. You are not only offering an additional service which is expected anyways, but you will receive already the first contact details with their login (e.g., email address or Facebook profile). Using this contact you can send a review request after the customer has left your store and are already in an interaction with this customer – the first step in getting to know your customers and building a long-term relationship with them is done. Furthermore, our mPocket application can be integrated into existing cash register systems: with contactless payment or paperless receipts you have another possibility to collect customer data.

Once you have the data of your customers you can dig a little deeper to find out what your customers value, for example with short surveys – simple and automized with mPocket. The system is also safe from a data protection point of view.

Shopping today means more and more specific requests from the customer across multiple channels with effortless and uncomplicated experiences at the same time.

Services such as buying online – home delivery, over buying online – pick up in-store to paying online – delivery to a pick-up station and many others are demanded more than ever. Meet this increasing demand for all-round services, offer your customers a seamless and individualized shopping experience that they appreciate, strengthen their loyalty and build a long-term relationship. Trustful customers are ready to share much more personal information with you, which can again be incorporated into your sales concept.

3. Satisfied employees & customer loyalty

Ask yourself what a good customer service means to you: for example, the waiter of your favourite restaurant knowing your name and serving immediately your drink without asking? Or when you had a problem with your mobile phone the other day and the phone support led you friendly, quickly and straight forward to the solution? What is the difference between those employees and others which are having a similar training and knowledge? They are lining the interests of the company and act accordingly.

The service orientation must be integrated as a solid part of the corporate culture and you and your team need to be occupied by it. Due to the increasing competition and the changing expectations of customers, the standards have also been set new for local retailers. Friendliness, empathy and expertise are not enough anymore. Automate, personalize and digitize all interactions with and around your customers. A good software for the centralization of data is essential for every customer service today – but only effective if all your employees share your values and do not have a completely different attitude towards your customers and the understanding of service. Today, the customer experience is an essential factor for the success of a company and no company should miss to adapt customer service to changed circumstances and realign all relationships – internally and externally.

Convince your employees as well – they are the brand ambassadors for you and your store and have a fundamental influence on the relationship with your customers. Companies with a customer focused culture are 60% more profitable than others.

Powerful customer service also means be one step ahead of your customers and their needs before they are even expressed. With centrally collected customer data, you can proactively approach your customers and take the initiative. Your customers will be positively surprised and experience a feeling of specialty. The same is valid for possible problems or complaints your customer might have – a proactive solution not only solves the actual problem, but also signals your customers that you take their concerns seriously.

Fast, targeted advice and problem solving, real-time answers, individualization and additional services are a necessary requirement for every company today, whether it is a small or medium-sized one. mPocket supports you as a digital employee.

Involve your employees actively and let them help propose their own ideas for improved customer service. There are no limits set to the creativity of your team and common brainstorming or problem solving also creates a stronger bond in the team.

With the right tool, you can help your team to be more productive and thereby provide your customers with the best possible service. Based on the customer data, your employee can offer a suitable product, reserve it online or present and consult via video calls. Technology can combine the skills of a good salesperson with the convenience of an online shop, increase the productivity of your employees and give your customers a feeling of exclusivity.

Having a positive experience while saving time enables your employees to touch your customers emotionally. Store employees are experts in your customers eyes which are asked for advice and help. Bring all service interactions with your customers to one place. This keeps communication seamless, personal and efficient.

Customer service 4.0 means to bring people into the centre of attention and to put their needs into the focus of your philosophy. Not only your customers, but also your employees. They are the deciding factor for the service of your business.

Customer expectations have caused a huge turn and a totally different dynamic the recent years, especially in local retail. The Corona crises only accelerated the trend towards digitization and SMEs are also investing more and more in new technologies.

Transparent and up-to-date data knowledge is essential for your success and the growth of your business. Use the data efficiently to realign your customer service. Let yourself and your product stick out with uniqueness, build customer relationships through interactions and enrich your customers’ life with eventful, time-saving purchases and exceptional services.

We from mPocket show you how to implement customer service 4.0 with just one application.

Jasmin Janson

Marketing & Communication Manager mPocket

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3 tips for sustainability awareness in retail

3 tips for sustainability awareness in retail

Sustainability in retail

Why sustainability awareness is beneficial for retail

 

 

Reading time: 7 minutes

Meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – this definition of a report published in 1987 by the United Nations pretty much describes what sustainability development and the awareness of such is supposed to achieve. Governments and global industries have been forced the last centuries to implement strategies and standards which ensure a co-existence of the planet earth and the humankind.

What was once exclusively spared for people of green parties, finds more and more awareness and acceptance throughout a wilder field of the population. The younger the people, the more they care about sustainability also in daily life. Upcycling, plant-based food, plastic free oceans, Greta Thunberg, the fall of fast fashion, electric cars… The list of keywords regarding sustainability and the list of commitments is endless.

Therefore, sustainability has become a powerful value proposition in retail. Making an effort for our planet and showing commitment is also a win for the own brand and turned companies’ philosophies which the biggest retailers such as H&M or Inditex show. Conscious collections, second hand or pre-owned fashion or rewarding customers for their participation in a sustainable cycle are only a few examples. 71% of chief executives from the world’s leading organizations in all economic sectors see sustainability critical to their future success, because consumers are no longer deciding for a certain purchase based on the products or price, but more on the purpose of a brand and for which values it stands for.

Upcycling is already known from the electronic and fashion businesses. Ecological raw materials, efficient usage of resources and waste avoiding through the complete production circle are more and more integrated in brand strategies, but also work policies and transparency in communication are part of the sustainable development.

How can a local retailer jump on that train, do good for the environment, have a social impact and gain business at the same time?

Know your customers and focus on their values

Today’s customers, especially the Millenials and Generation Z are much more purpose-driven than the generations before. Already 41% of all customers are willing to pay more for goods and services, if they are in alignment with their lifestyle and values like sustainability and ethics. People change and evolve continually, but evident is a new wave of responsible consumption.

The digitization of companies is already a reality. Consumers of today are always online and have at their fingertips instant ability to access information about products and services. Thanks to that fact also brick-and-mortar retail can be more sustainable in day-to-day life and have at the same time a much closer relationship with their customers and offer them more personalized attention.

How can you as a retailer really know your customer, his or her values, preferences?

The classic way to collect customer data like the name, email address and mobile number is personally in a single consultation. Once saved this data can be used further for review requests, surveys, newsletters and so on. But there are much more touchpoints in a customers’ journey which helps you and your store associate to gather information of your customer: more and more customers use social media to check also local stores. Social media is not only a great opportunity for users to share, interact and connect, but also for you to find out what your customers value as well as promoting your sustainability efforts. With mPocket all your profiles can be merged in just one application so you don’t lose the overview of all social platforms available. Additionally, it can be used in-store for data collection: connected to the free guest Wifi you offer on one side a service each customer is expecting anyways and on the other hand you have at least one contact of this customer. To this contact (email adress or social media profile) you can send afterwards a review request and are already in some interaction with that customer – the first step to get to know him and to build a relationship with him. The mPocket solution can as well be integrated to existing cash systems, e.g. with contactless payments and/or paperfree receipts – one more option to collect your customers data. Having all contacts, you can start digging more into your customers values through short and simple surveys – all automized with mPocket.

Shopping involves more and more specific requests and multiple channels and consumers still want effortless and uncomplicated experiences. Special services from buy online-ship to home, to Click-and-Collect (buy online, pick up in store) to BAGA (buy anywhere, and get anywhere) – the demand for all fulfillment methods is growing. Covering all these, you supply a shopping experience which your customer will appreciate, build his or her loyalty and form a long-termed relationship. Trustful customers are willing to share much more personal information which in return can be applied to a single retailers concept.

Customers are keeping the retail alive, their data is impacting the retailers business and most importantly the retailers responds to the customers demands.

Make sustainability part of your brand and promote your sustainable retail

During Corona not only e-commerce has grown, also a new perception for local shopping was born and pushed the trend for sustainability even further. Empty city centers, slogans such as “support your local dealer” together with the huge effort brick-and-mortar made to overcome the difficult times raised the awareness also by people which did not deal with sustainability until now and created new loyalty to local stores.

What could be more sustainable than going to the shop around the corner in a group of friends or take your bicycle for the restaurant 10 minutes away? Each single person can contribute to the reduction of the carbon footprint by simply skipping the orders online. The products are available immediately, there is no shipment (from online shops sometimes even in several deliveries and overnight which creates even more pressure from an ecological and logistical point of view) and returns necessary.  About 33% of products purchased online are returned, compared to that it is only 7% in brick-and-mortar.

Having collected your customers data you can easily promote your sustainable retail and highlight the benefits of your local store compared to your online competitors. Your online presence gives your digital-minded consumers the chance to evaluate and chose.

What can brick-and-mortar retail do for being more sustainable?

  • Offer reusable packaging or motivate your customers to bring their own to reduce the allover packaging waste
  • Use eco-friendly packaging if it is necessary
  • Minimize the paper usage by digitalizing your processes, e.g. paperfree receipts, inventory /stock over scanners, company documents online
  • Chose energy efficient equipment such as lights,
  • Follow correct recycling and composting guidelines
  • Use green cleaning products
  • Donate things that are no longer used in your shop / buy secondhand furniture
  • Avoid misleading and offer traceability and transparency by correct labeling (QR codes can give detailed information of the origin of your products)
  • Get certificates of independent third parties if applicable
  • Sell green labeled / locally produced items if your concepts allows
  • Offer digital gift unpacking with unpacked gifts in reality
  • Provide “digital” deliveries in form of consultation over videocalls, customizing the products before pick-up

The possibilities for retails contribution to planet earth are endless and as well adaptable to small local stores, but communication is the key to everything, if you want to have also a positive impact on your sales. Spread the word through social media, email marketing and in-store with the help of just one digital solution. The messaging on all channels plays a big role in transforming your sustainability efforts into part of your brand story and identity. It gives you space to answer the questions your customers might have, for example what led you to a more sustainable business. Helping your customers to lower their carbon footprint by raising awareness of their shopping habits is highly beneficial to your business and making them feel more empowered as consumers will form a great bond with you and your sustainable store.

Raise awareness by your employees and empower them with the right tools

Since consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores, your store associate is one of the most valuable assets – your brand ambassador. You and your team are the first impression a customer gets when entering your store and are of significant importance for customer acquisition and loyalty. By raising awareness by your employees, linking their values to their daily work and turning a sustainable business model into business as usual you are representing your own efforts as your brands philosophy.

Besides making sustainability visible inside and outside your store, online and offline, you can also cocreate some practices together with your employees. Collectively solving problems stimulates on one hand creativity for further sustainable actions and forms solidarity in your team.

With the right tool your retail associates will become more productive and deliver the best possible customer service. Based on the customer data your store associate can offer on a suitable product, make online bookings, presentations of new products/ collections or consultation/tutorials over a videocall. Technology can combine the skills of a good sales person with the convenience of online shop, improve the productivity of your staff and give the customer a feeling of blissful exclusivity. The leverage of experiencing something positive alongside saving time will enable the store associates to touch the customer emotionally with the help of technology. Store associates are seen as experts which customers are seeking for advice. By raising your associates’ awareness for sustainability, you show your customers your responsibility for environment. Because it is what consumers want.

It’s a new state of mind and a new era. Everybody realizes that luxury and the endless resources we were taking for granted is over. The challenge of our generation is to adapt through [practices like] recycling and the circular economy.” says Sébastien Kopp, co-founder of Veja. The return of investment of all sustainable efforts will pay off as you demonstrate to the consumers how you are living their values.

Digitization is per se already one step to sustainability. Use just one tool to combine customer, store, brand and team interaction. Create more visibility and traffic, promote your sustainable store and touch your customers at very touchpoint along their journey.

Jasmin Janson

Marketing & Communication Manager mPocket

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5 trends for the future of physical retail

5 trends for the future of physical retail

5 trends for the future of physical retail

How to use phygital transformation as a restart
Reading time: 5 minutes

You can blame Covid-19 for countless things, but the global pandemic only uncovered to the highest possible degree what was known for years: a significant change in the customers behavior to spend money. This resulted in empty city centers, declining highstreet footfall  and a massive boom in e-commerce. The challenges retailers were facing already in the recent past were simply accelerated due to the pandemic and the urge for digitalization. 
The keyword for not only surviving but thriving in the post-Covid-world will be – becoming phygital. Since there are hybrid solutions for many gadgets why not for your retail? Capture your customers with immersive experiences while preserving the convenience of the digital world.  
Which trends are to be expected and how to master the symbiosis of physical and digital retail? 

E-commerce penetration growth in US in percent

1. The rise of interaction 

Shopping must be a multi-dimensional experience for the customers to arouse their feelings – at best in a positive way. Feelings are possible to change over time, so the desires shift as well and need to be met each time in a particular manner. Paul Greenberg put it this way: “customer engagement by definition is the ongoing interaction between company and customer offered by the company, chosen by the customer”.  
In different words: You do not sell by simply offering your products/services at a certain place. Whatever you offer needs to be seen and proactively adapted to the customers’ demands. 
The customer will decide which shop to choose – out of multiple comparable ones – based on the availability in local maps and the ratings or reviews of probably like-minded people. Beside visibility through local search, you also need to show the online availability which a customer gets from almost every online retailer: real time responses are anticipated more and more. 

2. The customer as your channel 

If there is availability you are one step away from the convenience of online shopping: offering services while your customers are comfortable on their couch adds convenience and saves time out of their busy day.    
To gain a competitive advantage to online pure player you need more developed services: 
Is the requested product available or can you recommend a similar one? 
Can your shop assistant turn it upside down and put it to daylight in a videochat
Is it possible to reserve the one I bought two weeks ago in another size for my friend and me until Saturday? 
Can I pay immediately but send my brother for pick up later?  

Time is limited. People are oversaturated. Considering both you need to provide a convenient way of forward shifted high quality services. 

3. The importance of brand interaction 

The well-known word of mouth takes place online. 85% of customers check online ratings and reviews before deciding to pick that one restaurant or to choose the shop which is four streets further away. 
The more visibility you show online the more you are seen. The more you are seen the more customers you attract. Within this loop you create loyalty by your customers with outstanding services and a sustainable experience for them. Invite your satisfied customers to leave a feedback and be one step ahead of your competitor.  
Every action requires some reaction – each request, feedback and critique is supposed to be answered by you. Create long termed customer relations and fans with unique pre and after sales interaction. 

4. The age of assistance 

Technology can combine the skills of a good sales person with the convenience of online shops: based on the customer data your store associate can offer on a tablet suitable product (similar shoes in the customers size, the add-on for the smartphone, which was bought two weeks ago, the sold-out perfume which is available again). 
Besides this so called clienteling online bookings, presentations of new products/ collections or consultation/tutorials over a video chat can improve the productivity of your staff and give the customer a feeling of blissful exclusivity. 
The leverage of experiencing something positive alongside saving time will enable the store associate to touch the customer emotionally with the help of technology. 

5. The store as an experience 

The reinvention should not stop by the services and staff.  
Pop-up stores and micro-retail concepts already have been growing with multiple positive effects like presentation of your brand while having a lower risk like a normal retail space. Customized guidance through the downsized portfolio together with multiple fulfillment options (buy online, pick up in-store or buy in-store, ship home) pushes shopping to a higher level.  
Even the most popular and successful manufacturer for affordable furniture took a turn the recent years and went from only greenfield stores to small showrooms in the inner cities. There your next living room is decorated in themes and you simply scan the QR code of the products, pay on your phone and get them delivered.  
People feel – a certain smell brings back memories of your childhood, a song reminds you of a nice weekend trip. Appeal to all senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch and possibly activate the sixth sense – the intuitive power- to trigger the desires in your customer. Besides all reviews the rational brain can study, an emotional decision for a purchase is usually a matter of seconds.  
No online shop can evoke emotions like you can by being present and nudge these human senses.

There is space for any kind of reshaping if you intend to improve your retail store. But as the gigantic growth of e-commerce shows it is inevitable to go digital for the trends in the upcoming years. 
Stand out through uniqueness, build relationships with your customer through interactions and enrich your customers lives with eventful, time-saving shopping and services out of the ordinary. 

Markus Demirci

Founder & CEO mPocket

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Live Shopping Trend – 7 video tools you should know in retail

Live Shopping Trend – 7 video tools you should know in retail

Video chat also in the retail industry

7 tools for video chat that you should know in the retail industry

 

 

Find out:

  • Why video chat tools are a chance for the retail industry?
  • Which video chat tools you could use for your store?
Reading time: 5 minutes

Especially this year, video chat solutions have become more and more important for us to visually get in touch with friends, family, colleagues and customers even at a distance. So why shouldn’t this technology also be used in retail to advise via video chat right now and in the future and to allow customers to take a closer look at the products from their smartphones or tablets?!
Due to the current situation, customers are increasingly staying away from brick-and-mortar retail. However, with the help of video chat solutions, you can continue to personally advise your customers despite social distancing and bring them home the shopping experience from brick-and-mortar stores. Offer your customers the opportunity to experience products, their colors, sizes, fits and more as on-site in-store.
There are already some dealers who have decided to incorporate video chat solutions into your consulting concept. There are also a few points to consider when it is a wide selection on the market. The following is an overview of 7 different solutions and their advantages and disadvantages

Apple FaceTime

Apple’s video chat solution for all IOS devices, whether on the iPhone, the Apple Watch or the MacBook, with FaceTime, Apple users can chat with up to 32 people simultaneously for free via video. Facetime conversations and group calls can be started directly in the FaceTime app or iMessenger and are unlimited in time. However, since FaceTime is only available for IOS devices, you can’t advise all your customers here.

Conclusion: Only available on Apple devices, proven good video quality and pre-installed on any IOS device.

WhatsApp Video Call

The American instant messaging service WhatsApp offers its 2 billion users worldwide the possibility to connect with up to eight people simultaneously via video chat. WhatsApp video chat is possible for all WhatsApp users whether Android or IOS operating system on laptop or smartphone without any time limit. Create a corporate account and use voice messages and video calls to provide more targeted and personal advice to your customers.

Conclusion: Many users worldwide but with a subscriber limit of 8 people and the chat must be left to send and open files. As with all WhatsApp services, there are data and security concerns.

Facebook Rooms

With the new Facebook Rooms Messenger, you can now make a group video call with up to 50 people at the same time on the Facebook platform. There is also good news for all non-Facebook users, because even people without a Facebook account can participate in group video calls with an invitation. Facebook also offers participants unlimited chat. By allowing you to launch the Facebook Rooms directly in your news feed, private or public group or event, you make the video chat publicly visible to your customer and allow them to join spontaneously.

Conclusion: Up to 50 participants, rooms can be made publicly accessible, no account is necessary to participate, as in general with Facebook data is collected here as well.

Zoom

With the Corona Pandemic, the American video conferencing solution Zoom also came around the corner, even though Zoom has been around since 2011. Zoom offers very good options, such as screen splitting, the option of setting up a virtual whiteboard that can be used during conferences, especially for conferences and business meetings. It is precisely the sharing of the screen that allows you, as a retailer, to present your latest products in catalogue form. In addition, files can be sent in the chat function and communication can be continued in writing. Zoom Meetings can be joined directly in the app or on the web with the Meeting ID. With the free version of Zoom, up to 100 people can attend a meeting for a maximum of 40 minutes. If a Zoom Call exceeds 100 participants and should last longer than 40 minutes, there are still paid offers from Zoom.

Conclusion: No account is required to participate. There are ways to share the screen and talk to multiple participants in the conference. In recent months, there have been growing security vulnerabilities and concerns. The free version is also limited in time.

Microsoft Teams

The American technology company Microsoft also offers a video chat solution with Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is a free addition to the Microsoft 365 package that can be held online video meetings or even larger live events. It is possible to contact up to 10,000 participants at the same time. Participants can participate without the Teams app with an invitation through the web browser.

Conclusion: Number of participants with event size, integration with other Microsoft apps, screen sharing possible. Required for professional use of Microsoft 365 Business License.

Google Meet

Google Meet is the video communication service developed by Google, formerly known as Google Hangouts. Companies can make video calls with up to 100,000 subscribers. In addition, Gmail customers can start video chats with Google Meet directly from their mailbox sidebar. Google will be offering free video chats for up to 24 hours until the end of March next year, but these will be limited to 60 minutes. The use of artificial intelligence is intended to enable calls made to Google Meet, which automatically improves the image in low light conditions and filters out disturbing background noise.

Conclusion: AI to improve video quality has been positive. Unfortunately, the free version is limited in time.

mPocket

We at mPocket have also adapted a video chat solution specifically to the needs of customers and retailers. In our video chat solution, you can integrate your product catalogue directly and thus advise your customers more specifically. In order to offer the customer a simpler and more pleasant shopping and consulting experience, the shopping cart of your website can also be connected for ordering directly from the video chat. Give your staff and your customers with mPocket the opportunity to experience the consultation they know from brick-and-mortar stores despite the distance between the rooms.

Conclusion: Works on all mobile devices. Quick and easy setup. Very high comfort for customers and customer advisors. Product consultation, ordering, reservation and payment possible directly from the video chat.

Markus Demirci

Founder & CEO mPocket

Use video chat also in your store!