In the battle of traditional retail vs. modern retail, who’s the winner?
With the emergence and proliferation of online shopping, the appeal of conventional retail has waned significantly. Fearing imminent extinction, many retailers have scrambled to adapt to this new retail landscape, moving into eCommerce and embracing interactive technology in their retail shops.
In the UK, e-commerce is forecasted to reach a share of 38.1% of all retail sales by 2025. This growth in demand for an online shopping experience coincides with a drop in footfall for high-street shops. The pandemic affected this but even before then, retail footfall dropped on a monthly basis throughout 2019.
Some retailers, however, have tried their hardest to go against the increasingly scary and enveloping tide of modern retail. These businesses have steadfastly continued to operate the way they always have. Sears is one such business that failed to adapt to the evolution of retail and in 2018 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Does traditional retail still stack up when it comes to the key aspects of the retail shopping experience for customers or is the modern online method the only way to go? Keep reading to see how traditional and modern retail compare.
Interacting with products
When it comes to getting an up-close look at your products, traditional retail is still the best way for your customers to do this. When a customer walks into your store they can physically inspect your products by picking them up and feeling the materials of the product to judge the build quality. As well as this your customers can compare similar products side-by-side to help them make a decision on which is best for them. Through physical inspections and comparisons, the customer will be able to settle on which best suits their needs and will leave satisfied thanks to this in-person retail experience.
However, certain products such as larger items that can’t be displayed on a shopfloor are unable to take advantage of this. As a result, the customer will not get the chance to judge these products as they won’t have access to it. As a solution to this, you could implement window displays, or a video wall, like shown below, to display these products allowing your customers to still gain knowledge on them and see what they look like.
This would provide a similar experience to online shopping as the customer would see high-quality images of the products. The added bonus here though is that they can then ask for the product and receive it there and then whereas buying online would require them to wait for delivery.
Get in touch with our experts who will help you to find and implement the right digital signage solution for your store.
In the world of online retail, your customers can’t physically interact with your products and rely on images and descriptions from your product pages. 48% of shoppers have said that their top irritation post-purchase is that the product didn’t meet their expectations. This shows the importance of the product page for online retail. It needs to accurately represent the product being sold both in terms of specifications and the imagery used. These must reflect what the product is capable of and how it actually looks. With high-quality photography readily available now, getting an image that properly shows off your products is easily achieved. As well as standard imagery you can include the more recent feature of 360-degree images. These are able to show every angle of your products allowing your customers to fully understand the dimensions and how it appears in any orientation. Together these elements of the product page will help your customers to gain a solid enough understanding of how your product will act while in use and make a purchasing decision based on that.
Speed of the shopping process
Making a purchase in a traditional retail environment results in the customer receiving the product there and then. Once they have selected the product they want to buy, they take the item to the checkout, pay for it and leave with it. In-store queues and long waiting times can slow down this process, which can create a negative customer experience. This presents a danger because reports have found that 70% of consumers are less likely to return to a store if they experience long waiting times on just one occasion. Maintaining low waiting times is a must for traditional retail or you risk losing out on sales.
A way to help reduce your queue sizes would be to introduce self-service kiosks. These will help to break your queues up as the flow of customers will be kept moving thanks to the speed of the self-service information and checkout process. Retailers offering self-service options have seen a 40% decrease in customer wait times.
LamasaTech is a provider of commercial-grade self-service kiosks designed for high-traffic areas like your store. Contact us today to learn more.
Customers purchasing online do not benefit from the same instant hands-on ownership of your products as they would if buying in-store. They have to wait for the item to be dispatched and delivered to them. Delivery times are getting shorter though, with many online retailers offering next-day delivery if purchased before a set time. However, the customer would still likely be able to receive the product quicker if they travelled to their nearest store and picked it up.
Generating a positive customer service experience can help to build customer loyalty and turn first-time buyers into repeat customers. Human interaction is the best way of achieving this, as knowledgeable staff can assist customers with finding the right product for their needs and build a connection that encourages them to return to your business. The importance of undertaking this human interaction is seen by the fact that 74% of customers say they’re more loyal to a company when they can speak to a real person.
The main drawback to this traditional customer service experience is that it can only have an impact during the opening hours of your store. Once your store closes your customers will no longer be able to access face-to-face assistance meaning they can not generate a relationship outside of these hours.
There are also customers who prefer an automated service over approaching one of your employees. Millennials as a generation prefer to interact with self-service devices as opposed to human interaction, with around a quarter choosing the automated option. To ensure you can achieve a positive customer service experience for all of the customers who enter your store it is a good idea to have a mix of manned checkouts and self-service kiosks, giving your customers the choice to use their preferred option.
Getting help online can be a straightforward process. Product pages are typically the first point of call when a customer shopping online wants to find out about a product. The detail on these pages is vitally important and must accurately represent the product. In fact, 50% of shoppers have returned an item they bought online because it didn’t match the product description. FAQ sections are another useful addition to the online shopping experience as you can put the answers to common questions here. Common questions on an FAQ page include, where do you operate, how long does shipping take and what is the returns policy.
Online chats are also a popular way for your customers to get the assistance they need. Implementing a quality chatbot software can help to get to the root of the customer’s issue before a human assistant takes over. This will help the human sales assistant find a resolution quicker as will be provided with the key points before they interact with the customer. As a result, chatbots decrease the response time by 76% for inquiries, which will improve overall customer satisfaction.
When customers can shop with you
Most retail stores operate daily between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM. As well as this, you may have certain days of the week when your store doesn’t open or you may close for certain celebrations and bank holidays. These set opening times not only restrict when your customers can access your in-store customer service, as mentioned above but also their ability to browse or purchase your products in-store. For many people, they will be unable to shop in-store as their working hours will coincide with the store’s opening times. So as they finish working the store will be closing, leaving them unable to interact with your business.
However, a way you can interact with your customers even when the store is closed is by implementing a digital window display, as seen below.
These screens can function 24/7, so can be left to display your content even when your store has closed. This lets you promote your products to passing customers at any time of the day regardless of your opening times. By reaching passing customers when your store is closed you can encourage them to go and purchase the product online or return to the store during its opening hours. This will mean you are able to promote your brand and generate additional sales even when your store is closed.
Contact us today and we will offer you expert guidance on how your store could implement a digital window display.
The advantage of modern retail is that it is always available. Customers are able to shop online 24/7 meaning they can browse and make purchases at a time that suits them. This means that no matter what their working schedule looks like they will be able to access your store whenever they have free time, unlike traditional retail. Knowing they can access your store whenever is best for them encourages them to interact with your business.
A consequence of shopping online later in the day or at night, however, is that this can extend the expected delivery time of the customer’s order. This is because the order won’t be able to be processed and sent out for delivery until the next day at the earliest.
5 things retailers can do to modernise
- Make culture changes internally so that the forces with a tendency to resist new technology and processes are more easily bypassed.
- Make radical technology changes. Even if you only make one change, make sure it makes jaws drop. The purpose of technology in retail is to create more memorable customer experiences.
- Embrace automation and self-service. You’d be surprised how cost-effective technology-driven solutions can be when compared to people-driven solutions.
- Be prepared to iterate. The first big project you introduce probably won’t go exactly as planned, so brace decision-makers for the reality; plan to change your plans and include features that emerge throughout the project.
- Re-evaluate how tech-savvy your customers are. 39% of people aged 65-74 in the UK are smartphone users, according to Ofcom research! The times have changed.
So, in the battle of traditional retail vs. modern retail, who’s the winner? Well, it’s complicated. Of course, even the most traditional of retailers are going to have to embrace some of the trappings of the modern world eventually, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping some of the more compelling aspects of the traditional shopping experience. So, perhaps it’s most appropriate to say that both traditional and modern retail have their place, and can coexist peacefully.
Whether you’re looking to create a completely modern retail experience or want to embrace tradition, at LamasaTech we’re passionate about creating the perfect retail solution for you. Get in touch with a member of our expert team today for a free consultation about your retail project.