Multichannel retail stores: increasing convenience through innovation

24.09.14

With the massive power of the Internet and new retail formats, strategies and opportunities emerging, store retailers need to focus on keeping abreast of the changes and staying ahead of the game. Improving the convenience element of in-store shopping must form the basis of any retail development strategy.

Mobile payments, stock search equipment, QR codes and mobile point of sale have been introduced over recent years and are noticeably improving in-store convenience, while proponents of biometrics forecast the creation of a truly individualised, customer focused and convenient in-store experience should the retail industry welcome this new technology into the retail arena.

Leveraging retail technology

One particularly innovative bricks and mortar retailer is determined to show that pure play online retailers do not have the monopoly on convenience. Turning fashion retailing on its head, the Hointer store in Seattle, Washington, seeks to compete with the convenience of online shopping using a range of technology to change the face of the bricks and mortar model. The store displays one item each of a large selection of men's clothing, with a QR code attached to each. Customers scan the QR codes to create a virtual shopping basket and are then directed to a changing room where the clothes have already been delivered ready to try on. Payment can even be made while the customer is still in the changing room by swiping a credit or debit card on the available card reader. Taking things a step further, the store also offers free, next day alterations to clothing, providing a level of convenience and personalisation that pure play retailers can't yet match. This is one retail store determined to benefit from changing customer requirements and meet the multichannel challenge head-on!

Growing collection & delivery convenience

Click and collect, now almost synonymous with convenience, is extending its scope with a new range of fulfilment options starting to appear. For example, Doddle, a National Rail-backed venture, is installing collection and return points at 300 railway stations and hubs across the UK, many of which will offer changing room facilities. Similarly, Local Letterbox plans to open its parcelpodsTM, complete with changing rooms, in a range of convenient locations such as railway stations, universities, gyms and convenience stores. And this autumn, 2014, in collaboration with logistics company, ByBox, Waitrose is providing refrigerated lockers at Gatwick airport, enabling weary travellers to pick up their online grocery shop before leaving for home. No more arriving home to an empty fridge!

Many pure play retailers, such as Asos, are choosing to make the most of delivery company DPD's range of innovative services which put customer convenience at the heart of the offering and takes home delivery to a new level. DPD's ‘My Parcel' service allows customers to track the journey of their parcel to an eventual 15 minute delivery slot, while the ‘Predict' service notifies customers within one hour of delivery, avoiding the inconvenience of waiting in all day for a delivery. Other options include Sunday delivery and the possibility for customers to change their delivery requirements the night before.

Challenges for retail stores

Both click and collect and delivery options bypass the need for consumers to enter the retail store, making it even more important for bricks and mortar retailers to offer the best, most innovative and convenient in-store click and collect services and a level of customer service which is second to none. Waitrose again leads the way with its in-store welcome desk which offers additional convenience services such as dry cleaning and gift wrapping alongside click and collect and online ordering via an in-store tablet.

While the Internet may be changing the shape of retailing, the retail store still has a major role to play within the larger multichannel offering. Over the coming years we can expect to see a continued metamorphosis of the store from the static, four walled installation of the past to a new, living, breathing, evolving experience. Store retailers are taking up the challenge, adapting to meet the convenience requirements of today's consumer King and enabling the blending of virtual with physical for the ultimate retail experience.

To find out how we can help you and your store meet the convenience and innovation requirements of today's multichannel retail shopper, call us on (01442) 475666 or contact us by email

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