Your complete guide to Bricks and Clicks in 2021! Let’s start with online shopping — your one-stop to shop until you drop. Whether at home or on the go, e-commerce is booming! But is it replacing physical stores?
While it may not surprise you that worldwide e-commerce sales are expected to reach US$4.5 trillion in 2021, this figure only represents 17.5% of global retail sales. Meaning that the majority (82.5%) of sales still occur within the four walls of a physical store. So while online shopping is gaining momentum, it seems that physical stores will not be disappearing any time soon!
Despite offline and online strategies once considered independent of each other, recent years have observed an online and offline retail integration creating synergies of opportunity. Known as Bricks and Clicks, this retail model operates both online and offline, combining the two channels into a single strategy. It is the perfect representation of Engagement of Things (EoT) where businesses elevate in-store experiences with digital opportunities. As customers become more experience-driven, retailers find themselves minimising the divide between e-commerce and physical stores by bridging the channels. The idea is to reinvent experiences rather than to replicate environments.
Let’s have a look at ways to enhance the customer journey through seamless and personalised experiences for Bricks and Clicks:
Virtual Shopping — personalised live experiences bridging online shoppers with in-store staff
Online shoppers can be instantly connected to skilled in-store staff to explore products. maaiiconnect provides a leading web widget for live chat, audio and video calls that be leveraged for instant customer service or virtual shopping experiences. Likewise, the widget can be activated by clicking web links — which many businesses design in their branding as buttons or images on their websites inviting shoppers for their personal shopping experiences.
Smart routing immediately connects customers to staff best suited to their needs, and staff have access to rich customer insights. They can even follow up with the customer over their preferred instant messengers and social media for true relationship building — often sending special offers and deals exclusive to that customer.
Digitising in-store resources for deep human to human relationships
Working in the same way as web links are QR codes which offer digital connectivity through printed collaterals such as packaging, posters and business cards.
To illustrate let’s look into business cards. By incorporating QR codes, sales staff business cards are transformed into a powerful platform launching a variety of communication channels such as live chat, web calls through virtual numbers, video calls and more. Many retail businesses are built on close customer relationships, however when sales staff personally communicate and form relationships with customers, valuable information may not be shared with your business. A QR code that ensures all communication is centralised into a cloud-based omnichannel communications solution means a 360° customer profile is automatically assembled.
Humanising your brand to nurture customer relationships
Following the idea of nurturing close relationships with sales staff or personal shoppers, web links and QR codes can also be used to start conversations on instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat.
Modern customers are on-demand — in other words they are not used to having to wait around. If vital information is not communicated effectively and efficiently, it is so easy to miss out on opportunities and risk losing your customers to competition. In fact, 86% of customers cite an emotional connection with staff as a reason to continue doing business with a brand.
By keeping a close relationship through an instant messaging platform, staff can keep customers informed of all the latest news based on their preferences, ensuring a fully personlised journey.
In terms of business value, when staff leave the company, the customer records and communication history remains within the company — so a new staff member can pick up straight where the former left off.
Benefits of Bricks and Clicks
Being available on both online and offline means your customers can choose to how to reach you. By going where your customers are, improves your accessibility and gives you a more cohesive retail ecosystem.
Click and Collect
This gives the customers the option of shopping online but collecting their item in-store where home delivery is not convenient. Click and collect is usually cheaper for the retailer and customer, while also giving both parties the chance to meet face-to-face, creating a win-win situation.
Relationships leading to higher conversions
The increase of touchpoints throughout the customer journey means that engagement is prioritised for relationships to be built and nurtured. No matter the point in their journey, staff have full access to communication context to drive business through long-term relationships rather than transactions.
It’s all about customer experience
We have illustrated the necessity of customer servicing acting as the link of Bricks and Clicks, however it is the overall experience that makes the biggest difference. Customers seek personalised experiences that are seamless and consistent. As a retailer you must seek to optimise your processes and communications to create a seamless experience for customers no matter the channel they choose.
By taking customer servicing onto maaiiconnect’s omnichannel communication platform, here are some key benefits:
- Omnichannel communications — this means that rather than having independent channels, the channels are integrated to benefit each other.
- A Cloud-based solution — Customer servicing can take place anytime, anywhere and on any device.
- Customer relationships — it isn’t just about having conversations with your customers, it’s about building relationships that translates to long term business.
- Customer identity and intelligence — One of your greatest assets to make informed, customer-centric decisions.
- Privacy and security — All communication and data is encrypted and protected under maaiiconnect’s high security and compliance standards (ISO9001 and ISO27001, GDPR and PCI-DSS).
- Reporting and insights — these give you the information needed to make strategic decisions about your evolving business.
Remember Bricks and Clicks is about meeting your customers’ demands. It’s about being able to serve them where they are and the way they want, offering more value to ensure your business keeps growing.
Start a chat with us to learn more about how maaiiconnect is your solution to creating a successful Bricks and Clicks retail strategy.