Hybrid Shopping: Where Online Meets Offline in Perfect Harmony
The way people shop for goods and services has morphed and evolved massively over the past few years, as global consumers slowly transition from omnichannel shopping to hybrid shopping. These days, consumers are moving in droves towards ‘zero tolerance’ when it comes to their shopping expectations, whether that be online, offline or a combination of both.
According to numerous experts, the future of shopping is a hybrid model, and one that needs to be understood well for any company wanting to compete in today’s competitive and rapidly-changing market. For today’s savvy shopper, online and offline is more or less the same; the perfect blend of ultimate convenience and interconnected shopping. As the Covid pandemic slowly transforms from breaking news into history, the way people worldwide consume products has changed forever. As people reminisce about the era before lockdowns, where a day on the high street or at a mall doing all the winter clothes shopping was normal. In this day and age, many customers want to order online and receive their items by mail or courier.
1. Reimagining Retail
While traditional retail shopping in its original format may be all but extinct, the truth is that retail is evolving and finding its place within the post-pandemic reality. This reality also applies worldwide and includes not just the west, but also continents with massive population swathes such as Africa and Latin America. Retailers are rising to the challenge robustly and without complaint, adjusting their business models in the present to ensure that everyone benefits in the future. Crucial to the changes is the increased use of digital tools into retail outlets. Whether that’s touch screen checkouts or other applications that reduce friction or neat gimmicks which stimulate shoppers to spend more, the opportunities are essentially endless.
2. Interconnected Shopping Experiences
As shoppers demand the very best service from start to finish, compromises like long waiting times are not high on their list of priorities. Many wish to commence their shopping experience online so they can browse at their leisure and compare products and prices. According to research, around 66% of shoppers across most markets do their due diligence online before venturing out to hit the stores. This gives consumers confidence as they feel empowered and not pressured to make a purchase as so many often do when in-store faced with a sweet-tongued sales assistant. Those same shoppers also check rating stars and reviews incessantly before they take their journey further and buy. The fact the same survey found that 84% of shoppers made an in-store purchase after seeing an item on social media speaks volumes about the current state of shopping.
3. Hybrid Purchasing
Hybrid purchasing applies to different scenarios. These include hybrid shopping models such as buying online and picking up in-store, which is growing in popularity. Buying items in-store and having them delivered is another shopping approach that’s becoming more popular. The inescapable fact is that accessing products, stock numbers and sizes is easier to do online than it is offline. Many consumers find one of the most annoying aspects of offline shopping to be the frustration associated with finding the perfect item in-store but then not being able to find it in the preferred size or color or finding it to be out of stock. Similarly, around 67% of shoppers say they would return to retail outlets that feature QR-code technology in-store that checks product availability.
4. Leveraging Digital Solutions
For many consumers, in-store browsing is the number one factor that leads to spontaneous purchases that weren’t planned in advance. We’ve all been there, looking around shops in the mall and saying we’re just browsing, to only then be seduced by the new season’s shoe selection and unable to resist the temptation. One increasingly popular way to leverage digital payment solutions in-store is the techno-marriage between QR-code scanning and social media. One example is for large brand stores who want to promote their new collection and do so by placing QR codes around retail outlets. When the codes are scanned by shoppers, they are taken to a fancy Instagram page where sneak peaks of the new items are featured. The possibilities for amazing in-store experiences for the best shopping journeys through QR-codes and other technology is the future for retail, in one form or another.
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