In the digital age, successful brands are those that understand the importance of a multi-channel strategy. Many analysts would have you think that the bricks-and-mortar retail industry is dying – however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although it is true that losses in physical retail stores are mounting, major bricks-and-mortar brands still dominate. For example, the proportion of retail sales attributed to e-commerce is actually set to fall slightly going into the next decade. However, what emerges is not the dominance of a particular space, but brands that understand the interplay between on and offline sales techniques in retail. In this article, we explore the importance of an omnichannel approach with an emphasis on customer service.
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How the digital space is changing sales techniques in retail
Contrary to popular belief, the digital is not replacing the physical – instead, they complement and facilitate each other. Now, the e-commerce environment is multi-channel. This means that brands have to attract and retain customers across every touchpoint.
This includes physical retail locations, web e-commerce, mobile, and social networking. To demonstrate the importance of this interplay between the physical and the digital, nearly 60% of customers will turn to a mobile device before making a purchase in-store. Therefore, it is essential that brands leverage digital strategies in-store, in order to integrate their on and offline customer experiences. For instance, some brands are integrating augmented reality into their physical locations.
How chatbots enhance multi-channel sales techniques
Perhaps a key reason why the high street endures in the digital age is hands-on customer service. Now, consumers are increasingly savvy – instead of wanting the immediate, no-frills service that e-commerce could provide, they look for the contrary. Instead, consumers want service that preempts their needs, creates personalised offers and makes recommendations – much like a traditional personal shopper. It is for this reason that artificial intelligence should be a cornerstone of online sales techniques in retail. Chatbots can deploy natural conversation to capture and convert leads in the online space, replicating the inter-personal in-store experience. Whereas once consumers were resistant to artificial intelligence, now, 47% are open to buying items through a chatbot.
Best practice for chatbot strategy in retail
Today, consumers expect fully integrated online and offline purchase experiences. They want interactions with brands to be as instantaneous as asking a shop assistant a question. To replicate this experience in the digital space, companies should integrate a chatbot into their website to deliver real-time answers. Furthermore, brands should also consider integrating chatbots into messaging apps, so they can capture and convert customers on their platform of choice. Not only will this streamline the sales cycle, but it also creates important opportunities for upsells and cross-sells. Whereas once these nuanced techniques were only possible through human interaction, now, brands can leverage bots to provide enhanced customer service.
Developing meaningful relationships
The future of retail isn’t restricted to a single space. Instead of pitting the physical and digital against each other, brands should integrate their approach. Now, successful retailers focus on how they can connect, converse and build relationships with their customers. This is achieved by creating instantaneous, personalised interactions with consumers, where the physical and digital retail experiences mirror and enhance each other. As such, brands should integrate human and artificially intelligent sales representatives to deliver the highest level of service. Together, human and AI-powered sales techniques in retail can create experience consumers expect in the digital age.