Bringing Digital In-Store: Europe's Top 3 Retailers


85% of customers want an experience which unifies online and in-store, but only 30% receive such an experience. However, top retailers in Europe have made achieving this goal a priority. To do it they are taking advanced digital elements from their experience in the digital realm and bringing them to their bricks and mortar stores.

Exactly how they are doing this will be a hot topic at this year's Future Stores 2018 in London, find out what's being discussed by taking a look at the line-up for this year's event.

The evolution of multichannel into omnichannel has been a hot topic among retailers for a while now, long enough to go tepid. Retailers have, for the most part, figured out how to be available at numerous touchpoints. Of more concern is how to do it well, and create a truly connected and seamless experience for their in-store customers.

As part of our research in advance of Future Stores 2018 we asked 103 Heads of Omnichannel, Customer Experience and Store Development from top retailers about who they think is really leading the way when it comes to omnichannel and digital in-store. Here are the top three.

#1 Tesco


Tesco synchronises a customer’s preferences through their Clubcard account. Their website is responsive, versatile to PC, smartphone, tablet, and bolstered by a range of apps targeting particular services, like banking, mobile phones, and grocery shopping. The grocery shopping app allows users to create a shopping list, to add and remove items whenever they choose, which can be used in store, or for a home delivery order.

For a while, Tesco has offered a ‘Scan as you shop’ service, allowing Clubcard members to scan and pack shopping as they go. Now their BYOD (bring your own device) app allows users to scan barcodes with their own phone to find out more about a product and its availability.

More recently, Tesco has been testing the waters of automated e-commerce, having just launched a channel on the digital platform, IFTTT (If This Then That), a service which allows consumers to connect their favourite apps, in this case, Tesco with Google Home and Alexa. Users can ask their Google Assistant to buy milk and the app either adds it to their basket or if a delivery slot has been booked, adjusts the order. In addition, recipes can be added to streamline shopping, and household products can be automatically ordered every few weeks, all by voice command. These voice command orders prioritise the user’s preference from their order history.

#2 Marks and Spencer


Click and collect is a popular service among customers, with 72% making use of the service, yet only 10% of retailers have an area of the store dedicated to it. Despite the service’s unique efficiency, many still seem to regard it as an afterthought. In addition, only one in three retailers has store stock levels visible on their website, a feature which allows customers to avoid disappointment in-store.

However, Marks and Spencer have embraced the integration of online shopping into their stores, with one example being their in-store ‘browse and order’ hubs. These hubs allow customers to browse the catalogue on a large touchscreen, and explore product information by scanning barcodes. Customers can check stock and choose to have the product delivered to home or to click and collect if it’s not available in store. If they choose to buy, the card machine is at hand. With these hubs, Marks and Spencer have managed to bring the efficiency of online shopping to the shop floor.

#3 Apple


As a tech company, Apple is well positioned to manipulate the boundaries between digital and in-store experience. Customers with the Apple Store app can schedule appointments with support reps at the Genius Bar and get their order information instantly when entering the shop to collect the item. They can be notified when a rep is ready to help them or when they're near the store where they have an item waiting to be collected, for which the customer can then make the transaction with Apple Pay.

Apple have clearly covered an abundance of touchpoints in their shops, blurring in-store and online.Where others fall short and Apple thrives is in synchronising customer data across every channel to coordinate a singular view of their customer, and construct a targeted and memorable experience.

What’s interesting is how it’s not just the customer service, but also in-store events like hands-on sessions to connect with influential artists, musicians, developers, and entrepreneurs, which manage to reflect their online messaging, coupling technology with human connection.

By recognising how one channel adds value to another, Apple has amplified the ways in which channels integrate symbiotically, rather than competing with one another. Apple stores changed the game for good by allowing customers to interact with products they would be more likely to buy later, online. iBeacons are another example, facilitating digital interaction with customers in-store to offer discounts depending on the products they’re looking at.

Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst of Business Communications at Quocirca observes that “The Apple experience is infused across the stores… retailers need to stamp their identity at every touchpoint and increase their connection with the customer.” Consistency is clearly the key to the seamless integration that customers are looking for.

Make sure to also download the Future Stores agenda to check out all of the great activities, speakers, & sessions planned for this year.

Future Stores Content Agenda

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