What is Connected Retail?
Whether you call it offline-online shopping, integrated retail, unified commerce or connected retail, the concept is simply that the offline real-world store works seamlessly with online technology so that the customer can connect with your company whenever they like. When they’re out shopping on the high street, browsing the web on their lunch hour or using apps on their phone. But the key is that these experiences all merge and work together rather than as separate entities.
The scope for connecting the user experience of retail is vast and varied. But the goal is to give customers what they want, when they want, to keep them loyal and engaged with your company.
Over the past few years, researchers have been following this trend and watching as it continues to grow. The Global Connected Retail Market by Market Insights Reports predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.43% from 2021-2026, taking the market from USD 27.84 billion in 2020 to USD 78.21 billion by 2026.
Many customers are now so accustomed to this type of 360-degree experience from the biggest global retailers that companies that don’t integrate some of their offline and online offerings are likely to be left behind.
The Benefits of Connected Retail
The high street has suffered badly during the Covid pandemic, but it’s already showing signs of a bounce-back. According to The Times, “In January 2021, at the start of the second national lockdown, the ONS estimated that 36 per cent of all retail sales took place online, a record high. This fell to just under 30 percent of sales after restrictions were lifted in May, but it still remains higher than pre-pandemic levels, when less than 20 percent of sales took place on the web.”
Customers were forced to resort to online shopping when the high street closed, and while there’s no doubt that online shopping will remain high, many people are now looking forward to returning to their favourite shops, restaurants and cafes for face-to-face experiences.
Some benefits we’ve seen from our projects at ADAMAPP include:
- 3x increase in spending by customers who use the app compared to the website
- push notifications with a 25% conversion rate
- 50% decrease in marketing costs compared to SMS, email or post
Having enjoyed the convenience of open-all-hours online shopping, there’s no doubt this will continue to be a growth area. But the reality is that the online shopping experience can’t fully replace offline - and vice versa. The retailers that provide the most rewarding customer experiences are those who fully integrate their services, giving customers the best of both worlds.
Connected retail comes in many forms. Below are a few more popular and innovative ones.
Selling to existing customers costs 25% less than to a new customer, which is a key reason loyalty programmes are so popular. Anything you can do to encourage people to come back to you will help increase profits.
With so many shops offering loyalty programmes now, customers can’t keep up with all the cards. But most people rarely leave home without their phone.
That’s where loyalty apps come in.
When customers are out shopping, they can just open the app, flash the card and earn points or rewards, providing an excellent user experience of your company. And if they have a choice between your shop and a competitor, but they have your app with their loyalty card ready to go, they’re more likely to walk into your shop.
What’s more, just seeing the app on their phone increases brand awareness, reminding them that you’re ready for their custom whenever they are. Plus you can ask them to set up notifications in the app to receive personalised offers.
Three-way Ecommerce - app, website and high street
People usually browse for goods multiple times before purchasing, so you want to give them every opportunity to do so. Connecting your app, website and high-street experiences can provide a compelling customer journey that’s more likely to lead to purchase.
If they’re browsing on your website, then later, when they open your app, it shows the same items they were just viewing, with the same shopping basket, it means they don’t have to start from scratch. This sort of customer experience makes for an easier path to purchase.
But to fully connect the retail experience to the real world, you can provide details of shops near them that have the items they are interested in, with details of how to see it, and even codes for them to scan at a machine or by an employee when they arrive.
Or they could place the order online, then go into their local store for pick-up using a QR code or order number on the app, saving your company on delivery costs and increasing footfall in your shop, potentially leading to additional purchases.
By connecting up your Ecommerce in this way, you can create highly personalised homepages on the app and website, based on their history of purchases across all online and offline sites, which can include tailored offerings.
Augmented Reality on the High-Street
While many companies now merge their offline-online offerings, the most forward-thinking are venturing into the world of AR. Some examples include:
- placing items of the retailer’s furniture ‘virtually’ in your own home to get an idea of what it would look like in situ before going to the shop to see the shortlisted items in real life to make the final choice.
- trying on clothes, jewellery or make-up in a virtual dressing room by using the app to scan an image of yourself, then choosing the items to ‘try on’ before going to the High-Street shop to pick up the items.
- customising products, so a customer can see what something might look like in different colours or with additional components, for example.
- app games with various options for linking to real-world where people earn points or bonuses that they spend and collect in real-world shops.
guided walking route in your app. Customers open the app while in the real-world shop, aim it at the floor, and it guides them straight to the item they are interested in purchasing.
ADAMAPP’s Connected retail Solutions
The future of retail lies in connecting with your customers wherever and whenever they like. In your shop, at work, at home, out and about. At ADAMAPP, we are experts in connected retail, having worked with some of the biggest brands for more than a decade. Get in touch to discuss how we can help your real-world shops maximise revenue by connecting your offline and online offerings.