Is this the future of retail? Hybrid shopping explained
June 13, 2023
The retail landscape has undergone a profound transformation. Driven by advancements in technology and changing customer preferences, hybrid shopping is an emerging trend that’s only going to gain more traction over the coming months. Why? Because the way we shop has changed (you can read more about that in our last blog).
Blending the convenience of online shopping with the immersive experience of brick-and-mortar stores, hybrid shopping represents the future of retail. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what hybrid shopping is and explore the numerous benefits this approach can offer retailers.
What is hybrid shopping?
Hybrid shopping, also known as omnichannel retailing, refers to a seamless integration of online and offline shopping experiences. It aims to provide customers with a cohesive and personalised journey, irrespective of the channel they choose to engage with. This approach recognises the importance of both digital and physical touchpoints, creating a harmonious synergy between online and offline retail environments.
So, what’s in it for you?
Enhanced customer reach & engagement
By adopting a hybrid shopping strategy, retailers can expand their customer base and engage with consumers who prefer different shopping channels. Some customers prefer the ease and convenience of online shopping, while others enjoy the sensory experience of browsing physical stores. Hybrid shopping allows retailers to cater to both segments, ensuring that they capture a wider audience and maximise customer engagement.
Improved customer experience
Hybrid shopping enables retailers to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across multiple touchpoints. Customers can research products online, make purchases in-store or digitally, and even return items through their preferred channel. This integration leads to greater customer satisfaction, as individuals can choose the most convenient method for their specific needs. Additionally, features such as click-and-collect, where customers can order online and pick up in-store, provide added convenience and flexibility.
Personalisation & data insights
Online shopping has revolutionised the way retailers understand their customers through data analytics. By embracing a hybrid shopping model, retailers can gather valuable data from both online and offline interactions, enabling them to gain deeper insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and purchase patterns. This data can be leveraged to personalise marketing campaigns, tailor product offerings, and create targeted promotions, leading to higher customer retention and increased sales.
Retailers who embrace hybrid shopping gain a competitive edge by providing a comprehensive and well-rounded shopping experience. By blending the advantages of both online and offline shopping, retailers can differentiate themselves in a crowded market. Customers today seek convenience, personalisation, and flexibility, and a successful hybrid shopping strategy addresses these needs, positioning retailers as industry leaders.
Increased sales & revenue streams
Hybrid shopping can lead to a significant boost in sales and revenue streams. A well-integrated online and offline presence allows merchants to capture impulse buyers who may discover products online but prefer to make the final purchase in-store. Moreover, customers can explore a broader product range online and then make informed decisions in-store, resulting in increased average order values. The ability to provide seamless cross-channel promotions and incentives further encourages customer spending, driving revenue growth. Ultimately, hybrid customers have a higher lifetime value. The 2019 state of ecommerce study indicates that customers who combine more than one channel have a 30% higher lifetime value than those that stick to just one.
Can my business adopt a hybrid approach?
If your business lives solely in the digital realm, you may be wondering how hybrid shopping could possibly work for you. And while it’s true that the hybrid model lends itself more to retailers that run both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores simultaneously, there are ways and means to offer physical touch points if you’re an online business (and vice versa).
If you’re already a hybrid retailer, then it’s absolutely imperative that processes are in place to ensure a seamless shopping experience between the digital and physical entities of your store. Brands that operate within the luxury sector can really benefit from embracing a hybrid approach, as it helps to integrate the convenience and speed of online shopping with the immersive and personalised in-store experience many designer brands have come to rely upon.
Examples of hybrid shopping
Buy online, pick up in store
Customers can browse and purchase products online, selecting the option to pick up their items from a nearby physical store. This allows them to enjoy the convenience of online shopping while minimising delivery wait times. Retailers often offer designated pick-up counters or curbside options for a seamless and efficient experience.
In-store digital kiosks
Retailers incorporate interactive digital kiosks within their physical stores, enabling customers to access a broader range of products, check inventory availability, and place orders that can be shipped to their desired location. These kiosks provide customers with the benefits of online shopping while still being able to engage with the physical store environment.
Virtual try-on and fitting rooms
Retailers leverage augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) technologies to allow customers to virtually try on clothing, accessories, or even home decor items. By utilising these digital tools through mobile apps or in-store devices, customers can visualise how products would look on them without physically trying them on, bridging the gap between the online and in-store experiences.
Pop-up stores and temporary showrooms
Ecommerce brands and online retailers often establish temporary physical locations to create immersive brand experiences or showcase their products. These pop-up stores or showrooms serve as an opportunity for customers to interact with products physically, receive personalised assistance, and make purchases. These temporary physical spaces complement the online presence and help build brand awareness.
Loyalty programs & mobile apps
Retailers offer loyalty programs that seamlessly integrate both online and offline transactions. Customers can earn points and rewards regardless of whether they make purchases online or in-store. Mobile apps complement these loyalty programs, allowing customers to access personalised offers, track their points, and receive location-based notifications for in-store promotions and discounts.