According to Oberlo, the e-commerce sector is on track to grow by a further 10.4% during 2023. Taking yet more market share from physical retailers, but they are fighting back by investing in technology. They are effectively fighting fire with fire.
Below is an overview of how they are doing it.
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Beating The Ecommerce Companies At Their Own Game
At the top of the list is selling more products online themselves. According to research carried out by Mastercard, 75% of retailers are investing in improving their online presence.
Many are going beyond simply creating a great-looking and user-friendly website and leveraging social media channels. As well as doing that, they are installing touch screens in store to provide access to online ordering and more information. This sounds counterintuitive, but it means that if an item is not available in store in a customer's size, they can easily order it for home delivery using the screen that has been provided. Or use the retailer's app to scan the QR code on the item and call it that way. The online QR code generator can also tell shoppers more about each item or suggest other things that look great with what they are buying.
Pulling together the advantages of shopping in-store with the online shopping experience gives physical retailers an edge. It taps into the fact that when buying things, consumers like to touch and feel that item. As well as having the opportunity to scan the store looking for more things they might want to buy. Browsing online is OK, but you can do it more efficiently in-store.
Tech That Generates Targeted In-Store Advertising
Once someone enters a retail outlet, it is essential to engage them positively. That means creating a great in-store experience. Ensure you have what they need in stock, that the store is clean and well laid out, and that staff members are helpful and polite.
Letting them know more about what is available for them can also be part of a positive experience. Using something like Mandoe Media's digital signage system, owners can share special offers, details of extra services, and much more with potential buyers. Because what is displayed on the screens can be changed in less than a minute, the ads or information can be tailored to appeal to the demographics of the people that typically shop at certain times of the day.
Using Technology To Help Their Staff
The saying people are your biggest asset true for retailers with physical outlets. Without the right staff, their business cannot exist or thrive. Unfortunately, for many stores hiring the right people is increasingly difficult. For example, in the UK, between June and August, retail vacancies hit 1,034,000, a record number. Retention rates have fallen too. A double whammy means staffing a store sufficiently to provide a good service is much more complicated than it used to be.
To combat this, retailers invest a lot of money in technology that helps their workers do a better job with less effort. Serving customers efficiently reduces stress levels for everyone and helps generate more return business and higher per-visit spending. Here are a few examples –
- Ensure information is at every employee's fingertips by equipping them with tablets that provide access to store systems. This lets them tell at a glance if an item is in stock and where it is located. If it is unavailable, they can tell the customer when it is due or help them order it online.
- Lifting technology such as exoskeletons is helping to reduce the physical strain on staff.
- Providing ongoing staff training that is accessible anywhere, anytime, and in small, easily assimilated chunks is equipping them to do their jobs better. Retention rates increase when this lasting training results in acquiring new skills and qualifications. Staff members see the provision of practical training as a sign that the company values them enough to invest in them.
Will Physical Retailers Or Ecommerce Companies Win The Battle?
It is too early to tell whether using tech will be enough for physical retailers to claw back market share from e-commerce, but the early signs are promising.
Much of the information in this article was drawn from Mastercard's study of how physical retailers are fighting back in the face of the threat from e-commerce competitors. If you would like to read the entire report, you can do so by clicking here.