Today’s retail market is tougher than ever before. With hard discounters on one side, making it nigh on impossible for retailers to compete on price, and giants like Amazon on the other, dominating the online retail market, how can retailers gain a competitive edge?
Retailers need to find a way to differentiate themselves. If they cannot offer the lowest prices, or offer same-day delivery, they need to look at their key differentiator – the in-store customer experience.
Optimising the in-store experience can encourage shoppers away from discount stores in favour of a more pleasurable experience, and away from online stores in favour of same-minute delivery! And how better to do that than by removing queue times, offering personalised promotions and guiding shoppers around your store to find the items on their shopping list.
Waitrose for example, competed on price, launching its budget range, ‘essential Waitrose’ back in 2009, and for a time, the brand experienced a good level of success. However, in 2016, it became terribly apparent that its intense price cutting was drastically influencing its growth. Meanwhile, hard discounters such as Aldi and Lidl continued to grow.
On the other hand, online retailer, John Lewis, launched a free ‘click and collect’ delivery service, back in 2008 that allowed customers to order any item and have it delivered free of charge.
However, as the orders came in thick-and-fast, it gradually became logistically overwhelming for John Lewis. And, to continue the service, John Lewis had to introduce a £2 charge for orders under £30.
Whenever retailers compete on price, they’re heading down a path that leads to the eventual cannibalisation of their business. In the short-term, cutting prices will always drive more traffic into the store, but as a long-term strategy, it’s just not sustainable.
Free delivery is also an option, but the retailer needs to have an adaptable logistics infrastructure and pricing plan to support the process on a day-to-day basis.
If retailers can’t offer either – optimising the in-store experience is the best way to secure more business.
So, what are the problems with the in-store customer experience?
First and foremost, the biggest concern when it comes to any customer’s in-store experience – is the large queues. Many shoppers turn to online shopping purely to avoid that possibility; instead completing their purchases from relative comfort.
Next, there’s the additional problem of the large, modern store. Grocery stores in particular, are quite big already and for the first-time shopper, finding items can sometimes be difficult.
Finally, as opposed to online shopping, in-store shopping lacks targeted promotions and discounts that shoppers can capitalise on in real-time. Today, shoppers are looking to get more from retailers in exchange for their loyalty. If retail stores are to drive more customers in-store, they need to provide the customer with real-time, targeted promotions and discounts that are better than the online equivalents.
And PSS technology can help.
How can PSS technology help?
PSS streamlines the traditional shopping experience, removing the need for shoppers to unpack items at the checkout, have them scanned and re-bagged prior to leaving the shop. With PSS, shoppers can track their spend, bag items as they go and not unload/reload at the checkout – resulting in a seamless checkout experience.
Also – particularly for first-time visitors to the store – rather than attempt to navigate the store and be unable to find a specific item, customers can connect their shopping list directly to the PSS device and be guided around the store to the item(s) they are looking for. Forgetting essential things and being unable to find items becomes a thing of the past with PSS.
Lastly, PSS can be used to deliver personalised product promotions to customers in real-time, based on customer purchases and items currently within their baskets. This way, retailers can provide benefits and incentives to in-store customers, whilst simultaneously competing against online and hard discount retailers.
Remember, the modern customer wants more from their shop – and the ability to provide this level of functionality, personalisation and a seamless in-store customer experience through PSS, not only appeals to the customer, but also demonstrates the store’s commitment to customer satisfaction.
Find out more about how our PSS technology solutions can help you to improve the in-store customer experience here: