Anna Hee Ustvedt

How to strengthen your physical presence

The natural development and especially the ongoing pandemic have shifted consumption online significantly. Consumers appreciate the convenience and speed that e-Commerce offers, but that does not mean that physical retail has lost its livelihood. On the contrary, most consumers still prefer to shop physically, where they are offered a personal service and experience the products in real life. When the world reopens, it will certainly be valuable to have a physical presence.

Many so-called online pure players - retailers who exclusively have an online presence - also choose to expand with a physical store or showroom. They do this because online and offline channels each have their strengths. It's just a matter of finding them and leveraging them to create the best customer experience. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at how you as a retailer can strengthen your physical presence.

smart retaail

It may be relevant for physical retailers to look into how to leverage the technology to enhance services and refine the entire experience in the physical space., and there is many who have already done so.

In recent years, more and more retailers have transformed their traditional business into a so-called Smart Store. A Smart Store is simply a physical business that uses smart technologies to enhance and personalize the customer experience. Below we have listed some of the technologies physical retailers have implemented to enhance the customer experience.


Self-service technologies - let customers control their own purchasing process.

When consumers shop online, they can do so at their own pace while avoiding having to stand in line. By investing in self-service technologies, physical retailers can offer their customers the same convenience. Bauhaus, Fleggaard, Carls jr. and Netto are among the retailers that have implemented self-service solutions, such as self-scan, key-self, and scan-and-go in recent years their physical stores. With the self-service solutions, they let customers control their own purchasing process while minimizing the store's queues. The employees who should have been at the checkout can now be 100 percent available to customers in the store and inspire with knowledge, product demonstration, and suggestions for solutions.

Before making a tech investment like this, it is relevant to examine whether it makes sense in terms of the size and concept of your business. Particularly high demands are placed on the convenience of retailers with many expeditions and item numbers.

Read more about the benefits of implementing self-service solutions in your business here.


Electronic shelf fronts - less manual labor, competitive prices, and better shopping experiences

Traditionally, physical retailers have had (many still have) matching price tags for each product in their business. Behind the production of price tags, are a job of manually producing the tags and continuously getting the products priced and updated frequently. It can quickly become a time-consuming and elaborate process when the prices of individual products have to be changed from time to time in connection with new offers and/or price changes in the market. For many physical retailers, this can mean that prices are not adjusted correctly in time, and with the price focus we have today it can result in the customer choosing to buy the item elsewhere.

Electronic shelf fronts give physical retailers new flexibility in everyday life while giving them a better opportunity to keep up with market trends. It will be easy to update quickly and change prices, e.g., for specific day-to-day offers or ongoing price adjustments in the market, without going to the shelves and manually updating data. This way, electronic shelf fronts help to ensure a greater probability of conversion in the stores.

For online retailers expanding with a physical presence, electronic shelf fronts can be a huge help. Online retailers are used to changing promotions and offers with one click without a more time-consuming, physical visibility of this action. A physical store without electronic shelf fronts will require staff who dedicate a large portion of their work to this. With electronic shelf fronts, the workforce in places can be utilized to create great customer experiences in the new offline universe.

In addition to reducing manual work and ensuring updated prices, the electronic shelf fronts can personalize and improve the store's customer experience. Some electronic shelf fronts have the function that they can recommend similar products or "often bought together" products. For example, a conditioner for "colored hair" may be recommended under the shampoo for "colored hair."

Also, they can include built-in product reviews/experiences. This feature provides particular value because most consumers are most likely to listen to their fellow consumers when purchasing a product.
Many have discovered the benefits of electronic shelf fronts, and the technology's implementation is a growing trend among physical retailers. A recent report estimates that the global ESL (electronic shelf label) will grow to over 15 percent CAGR between 2018 and 2024.




Beacons - inspire and retain customers.

A major topic of conversation right now is how shopping centers and city centers will cope in the future and what work can be done to ensure that they do not disappear. Here beacons can be a solution. The Herning Center is a living example of a shopping center that uses Beacons to inspire and retain customers.
With insight into customers' data, e-Commerce can present them with great offers, discount codes, and personal recommendations when they visit their webshop. With beacon technology, physical retailers have the same opportunity.

Beacon technology got its name for a reason. Beacon means lighthouse, and similar to lighthouses, beacons send a one-way signal to smartphone users to communicate a message from a specific place (a business). Beacons are small, battery-powered, and wireless sensors that attach anywhere in the store and send BLE (Bluetooth low energy) signals to nearby smartphones. Suppose the customer has activated Bluetooth as well as installed the store's app and approved location services. In that case, the app will register the beacon device and send location-specific information to the store's server. This can, for example, be the department the customer has just passed. This data is paired with other data in the customer's profile, and based on this, personal offers is sent to the customer's smartphone.

Beacon technology is becoming increasingly popular with physical retailers, and major retail giants such as Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, and Target are already on board. The global market for beacon technology is expected to grow from 1.17 billion. Dollars in 2018 and 10.2 billion. Dollars in 2024.


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