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How to join the dots between in-store and online commerce

Via LinkedIn : In-store and online shopping really do have more in common than you’d think and it’s a huge mistake to treat them like two completely unrelated endeavours.

More retailers across all industries are harnessing customers’ in-store behaviour to optimise the online user experience.

High-end designer brand Rebecca Minkoff has an especially sophisticated in-store research system. The retailer uses RFID tags to track every single move its garments make. It knows exactly which items are tried on, what sizes they are, when they’re discarded and what other items are purchased with them.

By building this smart client profile, Rebecca Minkoff is able to optimise its online offerings and create targeted marketing efforts to drive more traffic and business.

Other companies like Polyvore take a broader approach and use this type of data to aggregate clothing from across the web and allow clients to virtually create outfits from a number of different brands.

In today’s era of ecommerce, it’s more important than ever to link the in-store experience to the online experience. There are three main connections that need to occur:

1. Connect store layout to site architecture

Identify the connectedness of your physical store, and create a heat map of its foot traffic.

If clothing and shoes are your most popular departments, have your online user experience match that trend by grouping these departments on the same page. You can also influence traffic to your less popular departments by creatively featuring them alongside your big money makers.

Amazon does a tremendous job of this by peppering its site with “frequently bought together” and “customers who bought this item also bought” suggestions.

2. Connect salespeople to virtual consultants

People rarely go shopping alone, and human interaction is a powerful sales driver. Salespeople not only help shoppers find specific items, but also provide advice and opinions.

Online retailers need to come up with creative ways to add a personal aspect to their impersonal medium.

Some stores recreate this companionship by offering online chat support and even personal shopper services. Farfetch was one of the first companies to peddle personal shopping and quickly found success doing so. Increasing client contact and personally helping them navigate your online store is crucial to boosting your sales figures.

3. Connect the best of both worlds

Whether they’re shopping in your store or online, customers want to feel like they’re important to you as a retailer.

To thrive, your online store needs to truly provide the best of both worlds: the immediacy of the in-store experience and the convenience of the online experience.

One of the biggest struggles for online retailers has been justifying the colossal warehousing and logistical investments necessary for their online operations.

It can be extremely difficult to find the sweet spot, and consumers have little patience for inventory being out of stock or slow shipping times. They’re more than willing to shop around for a better situation.

To combat this, companies have begun using their physical stores as warehouses and shipping centres for nearby customers. They understand that they need to do whatever it takes to create a “best of both worlds” shopping experience.

Roberto Ugo is co-founder and CTO of Movvo, an innovative platform that measures the flow of people in physical spaces and helps retailers enhance customers’ shopping experiences. Ugo specialized in business data networks and e-commerce at Boston University and the University of the West of Scotland and has an international background in engineering and computer sciences. Movvo won the first MIT Portugal Venture Competition and has offices in Portugal, Boston, and Silicon Valley.

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