Research Brief: Spanning Physical and Digital Environments with a Mobile-First In-Store Retail Strategy
Brought to you by WBR Insights
Today, most of the world's consumers are buying online. But even in the age of Amazon, retailers that bridge the gap between online and offline realms are finding new opportunities in their physical stores. According to Forbes, the most successful retailers are already unifying their growing online presence with an experiential physical environment.
In a recent study by WBR Insights in coordination with the Future Stores event series, researchers explored how the most successful retailers create unified, seamless experiences between digital and physical environments. Measuring retailers with up to 5,000 brick-and-mortar stores in operation, we discovered how a mobile-first approach has become a critical contributor to connecting these environments, and will continue to do so in 2019.
As customers increasingly seek out social and experiential environments, retailers are adopting a mobile-first in-store strategy to increase foot traffic (with push notifications, coupons, mobile apps, etc.) and to drive both engagement and loyalty. But how can retailers successfully modernize their stores and create brands that span both online and offline environments?
Prioritizing Social & Experiential In-Store Environments
Retailers begin by adapting their brand strategies, leveraging data from customers' both online and offline experiences to create a more inclusive, personalized environment. These insights are driving social and experiential in-store environments, which have become a substantial element of retailers' in-store customer experience initiatives.
Already, 35% of retailers consider these methods essential, claiming they are a critical and strategic part of their in-store appeal. Most other retailers (42%) claim they are one important part of their in-store strategy, among other priorities. (Two answer choices were omitted and will appear in the final report.)
Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline
The most successful retailers have already created a unified, seamless experience between digital and physical channels for a competitive advantage in today's digital economy.
While the vast majority of retailers have already modernized their stores and branding to span both online and offline environments, almost one-quarter of retailers (22%) have real strategies to do so in 2019. Only 2% of retailers have no real strategy.
Researchers found that integrating in-store, mobile-compatible technologies is a key element of new strategies for customer engagement. Mobile-first strategies help retailers supply in-store teams with online and offline data to provide a more inclusive environment for customers, increase personalization and drive loyalty, and integrate physical and digital branding for a more holistic experience.
A mobile-first approach to in-store customer engagement is already in practice for most retailers, where 70% have already implemented this strategy. Most other retailers (27%) will do so in 2019, while 3% are only considering adoption. (6 in-store strategies have been omitted and will appear in the final report.)
Our Upcoming Report on Brick and Mortar Loyalty
In our 2019 report, Brick and Mortar Loyalty: How Brand and In-Store Retention Strategies Go Hand in Hand, we expand on our cross-channel and mobile first findings featuring the complete data from the survey, including 11 additional charts about user-generated content (UGC), appointment setting, and strategies for competing with digital-only retailers. Finally, we get qualitative insights from retailers themselves into how they are adapting their brand strategy to the new challenges in retail.
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