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Strategy

How Con-ven-ient!

Technology makes our lives much more convenient - and us much more spoiled. Can brick and mortar stores keep up with this trend, and if so - how?

Lauren Dowdle
December 22 2017

Let’s be honest: We’re all a little spoiled. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve come to expect more while doing less thanks to some major advancements in technology.

You can order takeout with a tap of a button on your smartphone, sit behind the wheel of a self-driving car or even video chat with your dog and give them a treat remotely.

As more things are becoming easier and more convenient, we have started to expect the same from different aspects of life, including our shopping experiences. That’s why you’ve seen a boost in people using Amazon’s Prime Pantry, along with curbside pickup for brick-and-mortar grocery stores.

The push to make the consumer’s shopping experience easier is only going to get stronger considering 77 percent of consumers say convenience is an important reason they remain loyal. Next to that, 76 percent say an easy payment process is a big deal to them. Basically, they want (almost) effortless and they want it now.

What Is Convenient Shopping?

By definition, something that’s convenient fits in well with a person’s needs, activities and plans. It also involves little effort or trouble. It’s the word you want consumers to use to describe your shopping experience.

It starts the minute the consumer interacts with your company and continues until they receive their purchase, whether online or in the store. Each touch point along the way needs to be smooth sailing.

We’ve conveniently (sorry) put together some of the top ways to create a shopping experience your customers will rave about for purchases to come.

#1 Keep it varied

No two customers are the same, which means that no two individuals have the exact same shopping needs and expectations. You can’t create one experience that will be perfect for everyone, so give your customers a variety of choices so they can decide what works best for them.

That means allowing them to make purchases from your site, app or store. Or, give them the option to pay with for their purchase before they arrive and pick it up from a “to-go” area.

Retail giant Wal-Mart upped their game by creating a Scan & Go option that cuts down on customer checkout times, while also giving them another way to shop and pay. Plenty of other retailers offer Self Checkout lanes, allowing consumers to get in and out quicker. You could even create a special line for your star customers, showing them you value their loyalty and want to make their experience better.

Curbside pickup is another growing trend because it makes the customer’s duties easier and cuts down on the time they have to spend shopping. Remember, people are spoiled. Or, you can take that a step further and start offering delivery services. Anyway you can save them time and effort is a win.

#2  Keep it simple

Whether you have an online or brick-and-mortar store (or both), you need to make sure customers can easily find what they need.

That means you need to have an intuitive website design that works on both mobile and desktops, with clear tabs and CTA buttons to smoothly move customers through the buying process. For stores, be sure your departments are clearly labeled with signage, and ensure your employees can help direct customers.

You want the customer to be able to spot exactly what they’re looking for as soon as possible. That could mean using your customer data to showcase products you know they’ll like when they visit your site or placing popular items on the end caps at stores for an easy grab on their way out the door.

#3 Keep it personal

The better you know the customer, the better you can make their experience. (That’s where big data comes in.) If you create a tailored shopping experience for them, they just may stick around.

For example, save their basic, shipping and payment information on your site so they only have to login and maybe enter a security code for their credit card to complete a purchase. Only ask for the information you need to reduce the time it takes to fill out your forms. The less they have to do, the better.

Another useful online trick is to allow them to save things in their basket for another time, with a “Saved for Later” option. Amazon.com uses this tactic and it works! The option makes it easy for them to come back to something they’re interested in during another session instead of searching for it repeatedly. Because the majority of the time, they won’t.

#4 Keep it connected

Make it easy for your customers to stay connected when they visit your business by providing free Wi-Fi, no password required. And while this may seem obnoxious, there are several benefits of adding Wi-Fi:

  • 90 percent of consumers use their smartphones when shopping
  • 54 percent are using their phones to compare product prices
  • 4 percent search for product information
  • 42 percent are looking up reviews

Allowing them to do those things on Wi-Fi keeps them in your store longer, and it can also result in more spending because they are able to find the information they need to make a purchase. You can even use the Wi-Fi as part of your customer loyalty plan, giving customers points or discounts for checking in at your location. Buffalo Wild Wings and Kohls have already capitalized on this strategy and if it’s good enough for them…

Worried about security? You can have a separate, password-protected Wi-Fi for your employees and business needs, as well.

#5 Keep it mixed and matched

Your website or app shouldn’t be separate from your brick-and-mortar store: They should both be extensions of each other.

Allow customers to make purchases online and pick them up and/or return them in stores. Or, let them take advantage of an online deal in stores. If they see something on your site they want, let them see if it’s available at the store. And if they find something in your store but need a different size, let them order it online and have it shipped to the store.

The goal here is for customers to view your company as one fluid brand that allows them to shop however (and wherever) they want.

Put Your Customers First

We all want things to be as easy as possible, and that’s not going to change. Technology and services updates have only ignited the convenience fuel — because now consumers not only want a hassle-free experience, they expect it.

Companies that limit the amount of roadblocks that keep customers from making purchases climb their way to the top of the game. See you up there.

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Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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