Though media coverage portrays the high street as a dying format, offline retailers like Kiddicare are bucking the trend by investing in bricks and mortar stores in order to provide a more comprehensive multichannel customer offering.
Amidst speculation on the decline of physical retail, Morrisons-owned children’s brand Kiddicare has announced plans to open ten retail outlets by August. The decision reflects a growing trend of online retailers experimenting with pop-up shop formats in the belief that being able to physically see, handle and test products still serves a profitable role in the customer’s buying experience.
On the other side of the equation, Morrisons are facing the fact that few brands can afford to ignore online and mobile shopping channels in today’s multichannel world, and will be launching online grocery services in 2014.
Ecommerce businesses like Kiddicare expanding offline may gain an advantage over traditional retailers moving in the opposite direction however, in that these brands are often better placed to develop a well-integrated customer experience.
Online retail already relies on connected consumer touchpoints, from social media to mobile customer service apps. As a result, online retailers are likely to approach the development of an offline offering with the same mindset, experimenting with ways to combine the benefits of online and offline shopping into a smoother overall customer journey. Thanks to this focus, pop-up showrooms where customers can interact with products before placing an order for delivery and online ‘click and collect’ services are gaining popularity as more convenient multichannel shopping methods.
What’s more, ecommerce sites are highly accustomed to using technology to monitor consumer browsing behaviour and provide more effective customer service. Naturally, many have looked to replicate this approach offline, through features such as in-store iPad help points to deliver product information and mobile loyalty card link-ups.
Whether venturing onto the high street for the first time or making the shift to ecommerce though, there is one key lesson for retailers to take away from this trend: today’s customers expect the same level of service however they choose to interact with a company.