Hybrid retail is a new term coined in recent years to describe the collaboration of both e-commerce and brick and mortar stores. Anything from click and collect and curbside pickup to buying online picking up in the store (BOPIS), hybrid retail provides customers options as they shop. Having a hybrid retail business can give consumers and retailers the best of both worlds. If retailers establish spaces online and offline, they can give their consumers a seamless shopping experience. Hybrid retail is successful when online and offline come together.
Hybrid retail is not just buying online. Having multiple return points on and offline for consumers is a must as well. Consumers want the return experience to be just as simple as their purchase. 52% say they’d be more likely to shop with a retailer that offered multiple return points. Retailers thriving in the hybrid retail space will give consumers options like printing return labels at home to drop off at a delivery company, or simply taking their e-receipt to the counter at the brick and mortar store to return in person.
In SOTI’s latest report, From Click to Ships: Navigating the Global Supply Chain Crisis, consumers answer what they really want when it comes to their hybrid shopping experiences. But with so many options available, which one is best?
Connecting with Consumers
A hybrid business model has become commonplace around the globe since the beginning of the pandemic. There’s been a global shift to remote work as 70% of companies are planning to adopt the hybrid mode. So as our jobs go hybrid, consumers are expecting adjustments in other areas of their lives as well.
So, what do consumers want?
- A personalized experience. Avoid a one size fits all approach to connecting with customers
- To connect in a variety of ways. In-person, online or with a partnered company – meet customers where they are
- Create the ideal omnichannel experience. Customers want retailers to provide convenience and choice in person and online
Customers have been making it clear since the start of the pandemic that they want a hybrid experience. They’re aware of the supply chain crisis, but customers simply don’t care. They want their goods not only quickly, but they also want to be able to shop in the way that suits them best.
When asked if they would consider using any alternative delivery options in 2022, 63% of surveyed consumers said they would consider in-store delivery/collection (“click and collect”/buy online and pickup in-store) and half would consider delivery to a designated drop-off point. Of surveyed customers, 52% say they’d be more likely to shop with a retailer that offered multiple return points. These can be anything from offering free returns when spending a certain dollar amount or the ability to easily return an online purchase to a brick and mortar store.
From click, shipping to possible returns, consumers want a hybrid experience to meet their needs from the beginning to the end of their purchase journey.
Want to know how to keep customers happy from their first click to delivery?Check out this blog on the supply chain crisis & what consumers want from retailers
Maximize for Mobile
Having a nice website is not enough anymore. Customers need to be able to navigate that website with ease from any device type, at any time. When a business doesn’t optimize their website for mobile, tablet and desktop, they lose customers. 48% of customers say that when companies don’t make their websites responsive on cell phones, it makes them feel like the companies will care less about their business, and they’ll make their feelings heard by taking their money elsewhere.
It's not only shoppers taking their business elsewhere if retailers’ sites are not optimized for mobile, but Google rewards companies who have made their websites mobile friendly.
Customers want to have the option of going into a store, curbside pickup or delivery to their doorstep. Having options to make purchases with a few clicks or not needing to leave their vehicle makes them more likely to purchase with retailers. Customers want convenience, and why wouldn’t they? Nearly anything can be purchased with a few clicks on a smartphone or by driving up to their local store.
With competition just a click away, customers will not hesitate to buy from competitors if even the slightest issue arises. When they face an issue while making an online purchase for pickup or delivery, they expect a solution, and fast. With 83% of people doing their online shopping through mobile devices, and half of all Internet shopping traffic being done on a mobile device, retailers could be missing out on a lot of sales if they are not offering hybrid solutions.
The Future is Now
Understanding the importance of the customer experience and being clear about what customers really want is essential for retailers. Having clarity about consumer expectations and investing in technology to enable customers to enjoy the experience is key.
The benefit of a hybrid retail approach is that it allows you to set up the infrastructure necessary to have some long-term, loyal customers from the start. This could mean having a good web presence, brick and mortar locations or even an app. Moving from a pure physical or online sales environment to a hybrid one can seem difficult at first. Take time to review what you want to achieve with the hybrid approach and how your existing business may fit into this model.
As 2022 evolves, it will become abundantly clear who has made these investments. Hesitant retailers will pay the price as consumers have far less patience for issues that impact their need to get the goods they want in a timely manner. The ability to cite the supply chain crisis as reason for impacted service will eventually wear off.