In Part 1 we began our exploration of what strategies ecommerce retails can adopt to integrate in-store elements into the online environment to create an unforgettable online shopping journey. If you missed Part 1 you can access it here. In Part 2 we are going to cover additional strategies which can help you bring the tactile and immersive experience of retail shopping into your online ecommerce store.
Showroom Experience and Curation
Physical stores often feature carefully curated displays and showrooms that cater to specific customer segments. Online, retailers can replicate this experience through virtual showrooms and curated collections:
Online Showrooms and Virtual Store Tours: Some retailers have created virtual store tours and showrooms, allowing customers to navigate a digital space and interact with products. For example, SuitSupply's virtual showroom lets users explore clothing collections, interact with items, and receive personalized advice from stylists. Retailers across various sectors can create immersive online showrooms, giving customers the opportunity to explore products in a digital environment that mimics the in-store experience.
Curated Collections for Specific Customer Segments: Retailers can create tailored online collections that cater to the needs and preferences of different customer segments. For instance, Nike offers a "Women's Running Collection" featuring a curated selection of products designed specifically for female runners. This strategy allows retailers to showcase their products in a targeted manner, making it easier for customers to find items that suit their needs and preferences.
Exclusive Online Events and Product Launches
Brick-and-mortar stores often host exclusive events, product launches, and sales. Retailers can replicate this excitement and exclusivity online by organizing virtual events, webinars, or live-streamed product launches. For example, Apple has successfully transitioned its iconic product launch events to a digital format, generating excitement and anticipation among customers.
These strategies are not just in the realm of larger brands, smaller ecommerce stores can replicate these strategies using functionality like:
Exclusive Product Launches:
Live Streaming: Why not host live streaming events on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube to announce new product launches or limited-time offers. Live streaming creates a sense of urgency and allows real-time interaction with your customers, generating excitement around your brand.
Email Marketing: Leverage your email list to announce exclusive product launches or limited-time offers to subscribers. By creating a sense of exclusivity for subscribers, retailers can drive customer engagement and boost sales.
Virtual Store Tours:
Matterport: Matterport is a platform that allows retailers to create immersive 3D virtual tours of your store or showroom. While the platform is widely used by real estate professionals, smaller retailers can use it to create engaging virtual store tours for their customers. Matterport offers different pricing plans, including a starter plan designed for smaller businesses.
Google Tour Creator: Google's Tour Creator is a free tool that enables users to create simple virtual tours using 360-degree images. If you’re a smaller retailer you can use this tool to create a basic virtual tour of your store or showroom, allowing customers to explore your products in an immersive online environment.
SeekBeak: SeekBeak is a platform that allows users to create interactive 360-degree virtual tours. The platform offers a range of features, including hotspots, multimedia integration, and customizable branding. SeekBeak has various pricing plans, including a free tier but this has more limited features so check out what features you would need to see demonstrated before moving to a paid plan.
Seamless Omni-Channel Experience
As customers increasingly shop across multiple channels, it’s vital for retailers to provide a seamless and consistent experience both in-store and online:
Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) Options: BOPIS options help bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping, offering the convenience of online ordering with the immediacy of in-store pick up. Many leading brands, provide customers with the option to buy items online and pick them up at their local store, often within just a few hours.
Easy Returns and Exchanges Between Channels: Ensuring a hassle-free returns process is crucial for customer satisfaction. Retailers can make it easy for customers to return or exchange items purchased online by allowing them to do so at physical store locations. For example, Zara enables customers to return online purchases to any of their stores, streamlining the process and improving customer satisfaction.
Unified Customer Profiles and Reward Systems
Retailers should aim to create a unified customer experience by integrating customer profiles and reward systems across all channels. Starbucks, for example, offers a seamless loyalty program that allows customers to earn and redeem rewards both in-store and through their mobile app.
Seamless loyalty between the physical retail world and the online space has improved dramatically in recent years. Here are examples of 5 leading apps that all be utilised to integrate loyalty between a Shopify ecommerce store and bricks and mortar retail:
Smile.io: Smile.io is a widely-used loyalty app that integrates with Shopify and supports both online and physical stores. It offers a range of features, including points-based rewards, referral programs, and VIP tiers.
Yotpo Loyalty & Referrals (formerly Swell Rewards): Yotpo's loyalty app allows retailers to create customizable rewards programs that work both online and in-store. The app offers features such as points-based rewards, referral programs, and VIP tiers.
Marsello: Marsello is a loyalty and marketing automation app that supports both online and physical stores. It offers features such as points-based rewards, referral programs, automated email marketing, and personalized offers.
Growave: Growave is an all-in-one marketing platform that includes a loyalty and rewards program compatible with both online and in-store shopping experiences. The app offers features like points-based rewards, referral programs, and personalized offers.
LoyaltyLion: LoyaltyLion is a loyalty app that allows retailers to create customized rewards programs for both online and brick-and-mortar stores. The app offers features such as points-based rewards, referral programs, and tiered loyalty programs.
Incorporating elements of the in-store shopping experience into the digital realm is essential for e-commerce retailers to stand out in an increasingly competitive market. By focusing on human connection and personalization, immersive product visualization, curated showroom experiences, and a seamless omni-channel customer journey, retailers can create unforgettable online shopping experiences that drive customer loyalty and boost sales. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, businesses both large and small that adapt and innovate will be best positioned to thrive in the digital-first world. If you’re interested in improving your online user experience check out our Road to Retail Fast Growth Ecommerce Course: Mastering the Online Shopper Experience.