With digital adoption strategies accelerating in the post-pandemic retail landscape, along with physical retail’s continuing struggles, WiFi solutions firm Purple sought the views of 1,500 shoppers with grocery, fashion & apparel, and big box retailers in the UK, US and Mexico.
The company’s new report, Retail. Not Dead, Just Different, provides evidence of a viable heartbeat in physical stores, but also underpins the firm’s contention that retail has now arrived at a key transformational moment for critical change.
“Customers want to feel special, so you need to appeal to their individuality to validate their existence through all the micro details, wants, needs and behaviors of their lives—a huge, and overwhelming part of which takes place online,” said Purple CEO, Gavin Wheeldon, in a news release.
There’s retail life, but it will not be as we know it
This is the rallying call endorsed by Purple and retail guru, Sir Terry Leahy: “Physical retail is at a crossroads. Yes, you need to embrace technology. But this technology must embrace your customers. They demand a highly personal shopping experience as standard.”
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
The report lays out an urgent blueprint on how physical stores can thrive in a new world of blended retail. The company envision a future that’s neither purely physical nor digital, but a complex hybrid of both.
The researchers urge far-sighted retailers to stop seeing digital acceleration as a threat, and instead to view it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to integrate physical retail with online data collection, transforming customer connection and forging a new, profitable omnichannel future. The key lever to drive success is a commitment to customer personalization.
Make it personal and they will still come
The firm prescribes a positive future, with data revealing over 40 percent still shopping in physical stores more than 30 times this last year. There’s also been a 7 percent increase in footfall, and a 48 percent increase in customer return rates, compared to before the pandemic.
The research confirms, 75 percent of shoppers remain optimistic about physical retail’s future and want it to survive, although goodwill is based on expecting the same personal experience and connection received online.
Loyalty through understanding
A key takeaway, is the crucial need for retailers to understand their shoppers. An overwhelming 97 percent of survey respondents state retailers can improve their loyalty to the brand—while 83.5 percent said that personalization or targeting would make them more loyal.
The researchers describe this as a huge untapped opportunity to turn passive browsers into active, engaged buyers. Identifying that, only physical stores can turn the purchase journey into an adventure, by making it as immersive and personalized an experience as possible.
And the winner is…
Success relies on getting access to customer data while they shop, and by finding a smarter and faster way to understand their behaviors.
Fundamental is building a future based on an evolving selection of key physical fulfillment ‘showroom’ environments, transformed into intelligent spaces. Replicating online connectivity, these deliver opportunities for service-excellence, more rewarding experiences for shoppers and visitors, while simultaneously generating additional ROI.
Living up to expectations
Recognizing expectations are changed forever liberates retailers to create a new seamless shopping experience that doesn’t lose contact with customers just because they leave the store.
The report concludes that by seizing this critical moment, retailers can look forward to a profitable future for their physical stores through even higher levels of customer satisfaction and revenues.