Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. What we lack in one area, we make up for in another, and traditional retailers — which increasingly offer new purchasing channels for customers while maintaining original processes — are no different. While brand e-commerce sites and online marketplaces such as Amazon are quite attractive to consumers who want ease and variety, traditional retailers still have their own competitive advantages. The trick is knowing how to play to these strengths and to have the right lead nurturing technology in place to do it.
Where to Buy?
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of online consumers has more than quadrupled since 2000, and that number gets larger each year. Pew reports that despite this growth, two-thirds of online shoppers prefer to buy in brick-and-mortar locations first, but lower prices and greater product variety are the differentiating factors that push consumers to the web.
How are retailers remaining one of the most preferred channels for customer purchasing amidst the e-commerce craze? Online marketplaces see significant traffic because they present consumers with a greater ability to compare prices. Retailers, however, provide a level of customer service that is hard to find online. This factor keeps brick-and-mortar locations in the fight, even though availability and variety reign supreme on the web. While retailers are cultivating relationships with customers, many online marketplaces are still figuring out how to increase customer engagement.
Retailers come out on top in one category, but it's an important one. By leaning into customer service strengths and shoring up any lead-nurturing weaknesses, retailers can remain a strong contender in the battle for channel preference.
Personalized lead nurturing and a seamless customer service experience are great ways for retailers to continue remaining relevant in an ever-increasing digital shopping world.
4 Ways to Beat Digital-Only Retailers at Their Own Game
"If we can't beat them, join them" might as well be the new mantra for traditional retailers. Brick-and-mortar retailers can continue providing excellent service to modern shoppers by drawing on the successful tools of online marketplaces and brands. By leveraging cutting-edge communications technology, traditional retailers can:
1. Deliver omnichannel customer service
With communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS), that much-appreciated customer service extends far beyond stores and 1-800 numbers. Retailers can use developer-friendly APIs to embed real-time communication features (voice, video, text, and instant messaging) into mobile apps, websites, and various social channels. That way, shoppers can easily engage with customer service reps across channels, using their preferred mode of communication.
2. Bring in reinforcement bots
Voice bots and chatbots also extend the reach of customer service by delivering instant answers to customer questions, helping people find what they're looking for, and assisting with self-checkout. That means round-the-clock customer service without making people wait for an available agent. Considering modern shoppers (especially Gen Z consumers) have a serious need for speed when making a purchasing decision, seamless and expedient experiences go a long way toward appealing to customer preference.
3. Personalize marketing and lead nurturing
If there's one thing Amazon and Netflix have taught retailers, it's that personalized recommendations are powerful tools. Whether retail customers are engaging with chatbots or receiving outbound marketing messages, they appreciate it when retailers know what they want. They also appreciate the shopping inspiration. Communications APIs not only help retailers send customizable messages to customers, but they also gather insight into customer purchasing histories, allowing businesses to personalize communications for better service in the future.
4. Reinvent the in-store shopping experience
According to Pew, the majority of shoppers use a combination of online, mobile, and brick-and-mortar shopping, using their mobile devices in store for everything from making purchases to reading product reviews. By combining geofencing APIs with SMS or chatbot APIs, retailers can send mobile alerts or SMS messages to in-store shoppers to let them know about special deals, make personalized recommendations based on customer buying history, or remind them of items in their online shopping cart that they might prefer to grab while in the store. This type of communication meets customers through a combination of their preferred channels, ultimately meeting their needs and building loyalty.
Personalized lead nurturing and a seamless customer service experience are great ways for retailers to continue remaining relevant in an ever-increasing digital shopping world. By adopting digital-first tools, retailers can play the game on their own terms — and reach customers well beyond that first purchase.