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The Future of Brick and Mortar Stores

What will the role of brick and mortar stores be to consumers as eCommerce solutions and mobile technology continue to grow?  What is going to motivate consumers to drive across town to visit a furniture store within the window of open hours and shop when they can do so from their home at any time? It has become a necessity for brick and mortar stores to create a valuable, memorable experience that compels people to visit your store. The experience of the brick and mortar channel needs to be something that consumers can’t get online while complementing online shopping.  As some retailers are experimenting and finding successful ways to create that experience, others find it a challenge to keep up.  Below are 4 methods to entice consumers by adding value to your furniture retail channel:

  1. As consumers are increasingly using their smartphones as decision-making tools to guide them through their shopping journey, retailers need to react quickly in using mobile to their advantage. Mobile consumers use their devices before heading to a store to research products, prices, availability, coupons and search for nearby locations.  Retailers should optimize their online presence for local searches or have a zip code option to generate a map of the nearest locations.  In addition, sending customers “in-store only” coupons or promotions via email or text messaging will spark interest and can be another strategy in attracting customers to your store.  Retailers must learn how to engage with shoppers in new ways and embrace the uprising mobile retail trends.
  2. The capabilities offered by in-store mobile Point Of Sale solutions will allow retailers to connect with their customers in new ways. Mobile POS has the ability to access real-time information from anywhere in the showroom, which is important in delivering quality customer service. Your sales team will be able to provide vital information, such as customer profiles, exclusive promotions, and even provide up-sells and complementary product options to drive higher revenues. Mobile barcode scanning is another method in which retailers can provide excellence customer service by simply scanning a barcode to instantly bring up detailed product information.  Mobile technology provides an engaging solution for consumers who are looking for the same instant gratification and easy experience they receive when purchasing online. A solid social presence can also help with website ranking.
  3. How influential is social media to consumers purchasing behaviors? Researchers predict that social media channels in the future will be more interactive and influential in the customer’s shopping experience. Retailers are beginning to use these channels in different ways, including promoting events, offering in-store exclusives/giveaways, and sharing new products.  Some retailers are providing incentives to consumers for tagging their brand in tweets and photos, or for “checking in” at their stores’ location.  Retailers should also establish their business presence on various content-driven channels such as Yelp and Facebook, where they have the opportunity to engage with customers proactively.
  4. Combining online and in-store selling using retail kiosks provides a satisfactory customer experience for consumers. Positioning kiosks in strategic places will give consumers the choice of self-service, which they are beginning to search for and intuitively know how to use. Kiosks can provide customers will detailed information about products and services such as product reviews, pricing, availability and additional features. Customers can enjoy a more enhanced buying experience using self-service kiosks while also saving time in their decision-making process.  Self-service kiosks offers convenience and benefits that can help retailers generate increased revenue, improve brand loyalty and improve customer satisfaction.  Additionally, kiosks grant employees more time to help customers with more advanced needs and even make upsell offers.  Self-service kiosks allows consumers to have an online shopping experience while they’re already in a retailer’s store.

Brick and Mortar stores will remain a strength in retail’s future, however, consumers not only expect to engage with the products they want to find in stores, but also want a memorable experience.  As the retail industry is undergoing an exceptional wave of innovation, staying ahead is the key to success.

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