How an Online-Presence Can Benefit an Offline Store

With the tremendous upsurge and preference of customers shopping online in the recent years, most offline stores have sought to evolve in changing how they approach the markets.

While they may not want to change their identity to a fully fledged online store and lose the many advantages of a brick and mortar brand built, they are opting to take a middle ground. With this strategy, they can still enjoy the incredible 43% conversion percentages that physical stores are known for and add to that by establishing a presence online.

In today’s shopping landscape this merging of the virtual with the reality is becoming a workable model for numerous top companies and is proving quite impactful.

2014 was the year when offline retailers upped the ante in a quest to provide shoppers with a seamless integrated Omni-channel shopping experience. 2015 saw some brands further integrate their online and offline offerings.

For example, Unilever announced it was looking to explore how to use iBeacons to bridge offline shopper data with mobile ad retargeting following a successful trial for its Knorr brand.

It is becoming apparent that it is no longer sufficient for retailers to aim for a smooth offline to the online experience simply. Rather, the two should become entwined to the extent that there is no telling them apart.

Take shoppers from the renowned House of Fraser for instance who are now able to check on stock levels for items of interest to them while they are in the store or on the move thanks to their new mobile app.

House of Fraser is a department store founded in 1849 and has a long and distinguished history. It’s an excellent case study of how a traditional off line store can use an online presence to enhance their customer experience. Below we explore the ways House of Frasure is using multi-channel innovation to sell clothes.

1. Augmented reality

The store introduced 'scan and explore by Hof,' an augmented reality feature into its iPhone and iPad shopping apps which are constantly updated.

This app was launched to give shoppers a richer shopping experience;

  • It locates nearby shops for users
  • It stores loyalty data
  • It sends push notification, a good way to alert customers of targeted offers with messages
  • It enables customers to scan barcodes for more information

The store provides free Internet in store, so you don't have to use mobile Internet. This allows shoppers to access the apps and shop from immersive content like videos, music, 3D product previews and shoppable look books.

The store also digitized its brochure which has an augmented reality feature as well and is a great example of using mobile technology to drive interactions.

2. Digital mannequins

Last year the department store became one of the first to use iBeacon. When a customer sees an outfit on a mannequin, iBeacon technology allows them to connect with it on their iPhones or iPads to see what products on that mannequin are available in-store. Shop assistants armed with iPads can start selling, up selling and cross selling to those customers in real time.

Digital mannequins are how House of Frasure is encouraging shoppers to use mobile phones in its stores as it looks to engage and interact with customers across all its channels.

3. Buy and collect

The introduction of this service has reduced time spent in queues and increased customer satisfaction by 40%, which translates to their likelihood to spend more. House of Frasure has one of the best in-store buys and collect services on offer thanks to its wide network of stores.


Conclusion

This example goes to show that a traditional offline apparel store can boost brand image and increase sales through online presence without giving up its identity or closing its physical stores.

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