After the tsunami suffered by Retail in recent years, it seems that footfall in stores is approaching, if not already reached, pre-pandemic levels. In parallel, we see how the growth rates of online commerce moderate as customers return to behavior free of the distortions it imposed.
Online commerce penetration figures vary depending on sources, type of product, generational behavior, social profile, etc. But as a reference data, more than 60% of the Spanish population recognizes hybrid behavior, when interacting in their purchasing process both with the physical store and through digital channels, a figure that is expected to reach 80% in the coming years. years. 70% of users who buy online have also visited the physical store to make the Click&Collect collection on more than one occasion and 63% of these buyers prefer to return to the store rather than manage the return online. Finally, it should be noted that 85% of these hybrid buyers have made unplanned purchases in the physical store in these visits after an online purchase.
It is clear that purchasing processes are evolving rapidly. Faced with this situation, retailers are rethinking the role of physical stores in an increasingly digitalized hybrid world.
Physical stores are no longer just places where consumers go to shop, but have become key human contact points to enhance brand value and provide impeccable and integrated shopping experiences. Likewise, the physical store assumes a new role in the preparation, shipping, delivery and return of orders. Therefore, it is essential to create an experience that merges and integrates all available interaction channels. Whether we consider it omnichannel, omniclient, phygital or any other future name, the physical store must be designed as the axis of that multiple interaction with the customer regardless of the point they choose to complete their purchase.
It is about creating a scenario in which the brand is everywhere, integrating and reconciling all interaction channels, giving rise to a personalized, integrated and coherent shopping experience adapted to the demands and preferences of each customer throughout moment.
It makes no sense for retailers to independently analyze an online income statement and another in the physical world. The sales figure for a specific store can no longer be what the POS reflects. The entire hybrid ecosystem feeds off each other, so that sales can be boosted exponentially, taking advantage of the advantages of digitalization and adapting to an increasingly informed and demanding buyer.
In short, the transformation that the Retail sector is experiencing is possibly the most profound in decades, but how is it affecting the daily operations of physical stores? What challenges are retailers facing to develop an adequate omnichannel strategy and be able to respond to the new demands of their customers?
According to our experiences and direct contact with retailers, the main challenges are associated with the capacity or availability in three fundamental aspects of their operations in physical stores: stock, human equipment and physical space. We will dedicate future articles to each of these challenges and their influence on retailers' omnichannel proposal.