Retailers and brands are constantly adapting to new trends. When the pandemic started to affect the way we live and shop, retailers knew that things would look different after restrictions were lifted. However, nobody expected this massive digitalization in all industries.
While retailers were already adopting new technologies and providing a multichannel option to customers, COVID-19 accelerated digitalization and brought up new challenges. In this article, we are going to talk about the new era of retail: hybridization.
What does hybrid retail mean?
For quite some time, retailers have been offering hybrid retail options to their customers. For example, curbside pick-up. Instead of waiting in line at the store, customers can order their products online and come to pick them up in a few hours.
COVID-19 forced retailers to adopt a hybrid retail model faster, because customers want to have a convenient and fun experience while shopping, instead of seeing it as a chore. While there were a few hybrid options available, more retailers started offering the full hybrid experience to their shoppers in the last year.
Hybrid retail means combining online and offline shopping possibilities and adding extra convenient options for shoppers. Online shopping surged in popularity in the last year and a half, but that doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar shopping is dead. Hybrid retailing gives retailers the possibility to combine eCommerce with physical retail and offer their customers the best possible experience.
Why is hybrid retailing the future? Because shoppers got used to the convenience of online orders and curbside pick-up, but they also want to enjoy an amazing in-store experience where they can interact with others. By offering shoppers a hybrid shopping experience, they can choose what they want and they will leave satisfied.
Hybrid shopping journey
Until a few years ago, there were two ways in which customers could shop. The traditional way they went to the store was to look for products, purchase what they wanted, and leave with their products home. The online shopping version meant they could choose from a wider variety of products and they didn’t have to move from the comfort of their home. However, they had to wait a few days to receive the products.
Now, with a hybrid shopping journey, customers can choose how they want to shop. They can order the products online and come pick them up in 2 hours, they can come to the store and enjoy the whole shopping experience or do showrooming and go home to order the products online.
A hybrid shopping journey can help increase customer satisfaction and lead to customer loyalty. If shoppers see that you made their experience convenient, they won’t feel the need to choose the competition. However, if they have to jump through hoops to purchase your products, they won’t come back.
How to implement a hybrid retail strategy
For each retailer, a hybrid strategy looks different. For some, it might mean opening a pop-up store, while for others it means offering new convenient pick-up options. We will offer you some general guidelines and find the right mix of channels for your shoppers.
1. Offer both physical and online shopping options
Customers want to know that they can choose how and when they want to shop. People want to order products online and come to pick them in-store. Also, they want to have the possibility to come to the store from time to time to check out the merchandise, talk to the staff for more information and engage with other shoppers. That is why you need to offer them both options.
2. More convenient options
Convenience is key in retail. Think about the moments in the shopping journey where there is still friction and eliminate it. It might be right at the decision point or at the checkout point. One great convenient option is BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in-store). Also, allowing shoppers to see if the products they want are available at your nearest shop is another convenient option. People can check online to see which products are available and plan their shopping journey accordingly.
3. Technology is your friend
Don’t forget that technology was created to help people be more productive and achieve more in a short period of time. Nowadays, there are many grocery tech options available for your store.
Also, take advantage of data analytics on your eCommerce platform. In-store it is hard to collect and monitor this data. However, online shopping gives you more information about your audience.
4. Entertain your shoppers while in-store shopping
When customers do come to the store, they don’t do it merely because they want products. If they wanted that, they would have shopped online. They come to the store for the experience and the human interaction.
Find ways to engage with customers directly at the point of purchase. Tokinomo is a great in-store marketing solution that can help you entertain customers and sell more. The robotic POP display can make products come to life every time shoppers pass by.
5. Ask for feedback and implement it
Making the shift to a hybrid model can be a bumpy ride. However, loyal customers will always be more than happy to share their feedback with you. Make it easy for them to share their thoughts with you and try to implement as much as possible.
These are a few things you can try to include in your hybrid retail model. Test it out and see what works for you and your shoppers. Remember that customers are the pillar of retail and that’s why you need to make it easier and fun for them to shop.