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Consumer behavior and shopping experiences have arguably changed more in recent years than ever before. Throughout the pandemic, shoppers became more accustomed to online ordering and the inevitable ease that comes with shopping from the comfort of your own home. This has inspired consumers to come up with a whole new set of demands and expectations as they return to in-store shopping.
Recreating the seamless experience of online shopping for brick-and-mortar retail is no small feat. It requires a great deal of innovation to be successful, which is why many brands have begun to incorporate mobile apps and technology that gives shoppers more options. This includes being able to scan an item and — if it’s not available in-store in your preferred color, size, etc. — order it to your home.
While this type of technology is helpful in terms of enabling shoppers get the items they want and conclude their purchase, it can be frustrating for shoppers who go out of their way to visit a physical store, only to have to revert back to an online interaction to get the item they sought out. Most people opt for in-store shopping because they’re looking for some kind of instant gratification or need something in a pinch. If they’re not walking out of the store with a physical purchase, which is usually the goal of brick-and-mortar shopping, it can create a cycle of customer dissatisfaction.
With so many consumers returning to in-store shopping with a new set of expectations, stores have become overwhelmed and are even starting to lose customers due to impatience. This has inspired the idea of a potential hybrid retail model where brands can take advantage of omnichannel to make the in-store shopping experience more seamless overall.
Hybrid retail is the idea of offering multiple fulfillment possibilities and experiences to your customers by blurring the lines between traditional in-store and online retail. The uptick in hybrid retail has helped traditional brick-and-mortar evolve from simply displaying products, helping shoppers find what they’re looking for and complete a transaction, to becoming an experiential showroom and distribution hub.
Technology has played a massive role in the success of hybrid retail, and it’s important for brands to keep that in mind as they evolve their in-store shopping experiences. A “cool” or “unique” shopping experience isn’t enough to keep customers interested or loyal if they’re waiting in line for 45 minutes to purchase an item, or if they drive 20 minutes out of their way to visit a store that doesn’t have their size or preferred color. Technology that provides insight into an individual customer’s journey can offer a solution to this by giving visibility into what type of inventory a store should have to ensure a successful shopping trip. This, combined with things like digital interfaces and truly frictionless, contactless checkout, will create a hybrid retail experience that meets the ever-growing needs and expectations of the modern-day consumer.
Anat Shakedd is the CEO and co-founder of Nexite, a breakthrough real-time data technology startup that’s set to transform the fashion retail industry.
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