The hybrid retail experience is here to stay
By Laura Stone, Industry Director Retail, Ricoh USA, Inc.
Hybrid retail shopping experiences put control into consumers' hands.
Read time: 4 minutes
While the pandemic expedited a massive shift in consumer shopping behavior, it increased the speed of a trend already underway — the hybrid retail shopping experience.
For decades, brands and retailers controlled the consumer shopping experience by targeting consumers with specific messages through specific channels. Now, the consumer dictates every element of this experience. They decide how, when, and where to purchase products and services. Sometimes it’s in a store, sometimes online, and sometimes bought online and picked up in a store, also known as BOPIS.
Great consumer experiences start with information
Regardless of the channel a specific consumer selects, retailers must provide a consistent, relevant, and timely product experience across them all. Adding to the complexity, most retailers have established proprietary connections for brands to share product information to their specific e-commerce sites and in-store experiences.
Those fortunate enough to have an e-commerce presence before 2020 had a temporary advantage. And those with the most intimate knowledge of their digital information, including product information, inventory and consumer preferences have always been the best prepared to deliver on consumer expectations for immediacy, personalization, and omnichannel shopping experiences.
That said, information is only as good as your ability to extract, connect and use it for strategic advantage. The growing number of proprietary silos storing product content has created interoperability challenges that result in brands losing sales. For many consumers, convenience and a seamless experience take priority.
According to a recent report from Salisfy, 46% of shoppers in the U.S. will not buy a product — either online or in a store — if they don’t find the detailed information they’re looking for online. In this harsh reality for brands and retailers, alternative options for shoppers are always a click away.
The other reality for retailers is that consumer shopping behaviors have fundamentally changed. According to a Ricoh survey of retailers, 88% plan to keep the digital shopping enhancements they implemented mid-pandemic.
How the hybrid retail shopping experience works
We see this hybrid retail consumer shopping experience coming to life in a variety of settings. According to a survey from IBM in partnership with the National Retail Federation, hybrid shopping is on the rise, particularly in the home goods category, with 40% of respondents saying hybrid is their choice for home purchases, followed by 25% for apparel and 20% for groceries.
For grocers, a hybrid retail approach can have multiple benefits, a huge one being flexibility and meeting each customer’s evolving needs. While some customers couldn’t wait to get back in-store, many still appreciate and plan to use buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS), curbside, or delivery options purely for convenience.
Retailers also realize a hybrid retail approach can fulfill both customer needs. For example, before heading to the grocery store, a shopper can place an online order for items they don’t need to personally select, for example, their “center aisle goods” (paper towels, canned goods, and cereal). When they arrive at the store, they select their produce, meats, and other specialty goods and, upon departure, pull up to the back of the store for their core goods to be loaded into their car.
Now, grocery stores are providing an ideal hybrid retail experience that saves consumers time while still allowing them to enjoy the benefits of in-store shopping.
At Ricoh, we empower customer-focused retailers to create more meaningful human experiences. We do this by using information to discover what convenience means to your customers and how you can deliver amazing experiences for shoppers.
Learn more about how Ricoh can help enhance your retail customer experience.
Explore our content library
Recommended for you
Retail payment technology and consumer demand
Retail payment technology is evolving. Is it going cashless? Ricoh surveyed retailers into consumer demand. This article shares highlights and links to full report.
Why retailers choose a retail technology service provider
Find out how a third-party technical service provider can provide reliable technical service on retail technology equipment to provide an integrated solution for all your stores.
Cybersecurity problems retailers face
Looking for tips for solving cybersecurity problems in retail? Ricoh explores ways to minimize the risk of cyberattacks, data breaches & ransomware.