Internet use is ubiquitous among modern consumers. While this ensures a base level of technological literacy, it also increases customer expectations during each online and offline shopping interaction. To stay competitive, your business must achieve digital parity — in other words, each website or brick-and-mortar experience must meet or exceed customers' baseline expectations.
Provide Competitive Pricing
Whether your business offers online shopping, in-person shopping or both, digital parity requires competitive pricing. Cost is often king, no matter how convenient your website or how beautiful your store. If customers can purchase the product elsewhere for a lower price, they're unlikely to stay loyal to your company. Keep in mind that factors such as shipping fees and delivery times also play a role in a shopper's final decision.
Ensure a Seamless Experience
The best online shopping experiences are fast and hassle-free — they enable customers to move from cart to confirmation without completing long forms or entering complex payment information. To move closer to digital parity, your shopping experience must provide equal convenience. Online, eliminate the need to create an account or enter billing details wherever possible, and consider offering PayPal checkout or one-click ordering. In stores, you might eliminate traditional cash register lines by enabling customers to check out with any employee using a tablet and a mobile card reader.
Integrate Digital and Brick-and-Mortar
With services such as Amazon Prime and Instacart, online businesses are moving closer to eliminating shipping wait times. If your business offers both online and brick-and-mortar components, combining the two can help you stay competitive and accomplish digital parity. Consider offering online ordering with same-day in-store pickup to integrate the convenience of digital shopping and the instant gratification of in-person checkout. If you operate a clothing store, you might enable customers to choose items and sizes in advance and arrive to find a dressing room stocked with the chosen items. Embrace showrooming by encouraging customers to examine products in-store and providing free Wi-Fi access.
Deploy Personalized Recommendations
Although customers have a nearly endless array of options online, many websites offer personalized recommendations based on the individual's browsing history, past purchases and purchases made by other customers. This feature groups items of a similar nature, increasing the visibility of merchandise that shoppers might not know to search for otherwise. Businesses that rely on in-store shopping can recreate this experience to create digital parity. Help customers find the items that meet their needs by grouping similar pieces together on the shelf. Instead of separating items by category, organize them in logical groupings. Pair pants with coordinating shirts, for example, or place batteries near electronic devices.
As online shopping continues to grow, businesses must continually strive for digital parity in their online and offline experiences. By working to streamline and create convenience, you can exceed customer expectations and design a process that keeps shoppers coming back.
Photo courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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