Browse online and buy locally: Attendorn does it. The Hanseatic city in Sauerland has found the perfect link between online channel and stationary retail. The products of 35 retailers are photographed, inserted into an online shop, provided with data, description and prices and posted on the net. The clou: The Attendorner can not only order online (and deliver products via taxi on the same day), but also rummage through the digital shop window, reserve items and pick up the next day in the store on site.
A 25,000-soul community from the district of Olpe has recognized what many retailers have not yet internalized: While the majority of consumers buy online, but even in the digital age, the webshop is not necessarily the first choice. The opposite is the Case: According to a study by the trade association Germany and other partners, three-quarters of the consumers in the future also important to be able to shop directly and personally in the store.
The debate online versus stationary has long been outdated
Instead of putting the focus on balancing both channels, online should be understood as a well-oiled sales machine for stationary retail. New tools, advertising options and functionalities make it easier than ever before. They make it possible to nudge the potential customer online (the so-called nudging) to buy in the shop around the corner.
Local Inventory Ads: View online what’s on site
Search online, shop in the store – Google’s Local Inventory Ads appear to the user on Google Search and on Google Shopping along with the traditional Shopping Ads. If a user searches for a product via a smartphone, the local display of the merchant indicates that the item is available at a store in their area. A click on the ad leads the interested party to the seller page on Google, where he receives further information about the product.
It also displays local information such as opening hours, directions, and availability of accessories and alternatives in the retailer’s assortment. The form of advertising saves the disoriented search in the various shops and thus ultimately also time.
Google’s “See what’s in the Store”: Shopping for the Environmentally Conscious
With the new feature, the search engine giant strengthens the retailer’s position while attacking Amazon’s position. The main benefit of “See what ‘s in the Store” is Google Maps – users can enter their product request here, and the stores that have the product in stock are displayed in close proximity. Alternatively, they can browse online the offerings of their local retailers without having to visit their separate website.
Unlike Google’s Local Inventory Ads, this feature allows retailers to gain insight into the breadth of their product range to inspire their potential customers to buy. The offer is aimed at the growing group of consumers who, for ecological reasons, reject the big e-commerce giants – who leave behind a not exactly harmless ecological footprint with their deliveries and packaging orgies.
Pointy: Local products can be found at lightning speed
Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby are no strangers in the scene: For example, several years ago they founded the visual search company Plink, which was acquired by Google in 2010. Last fall, they launched Pointy: a startup from Dublin that has developed a box as small as a matchbox and plugged into a cash register or scanner.
All scanned or registered goods are automatically digitized and shared with Google. Additional artwork and product descriptions are not necessary, Pointy does everything automatically. In conjunction with the Google search “See what ‘s in the store” even small traders can lure customers into the store. No wonder that more than every seventh shop in Dublin already uses the service.
Product data: Attractive pictures and uniform prices
The Web is the largest shop window of any retailer – it should be well maintained and connected via the interfaces to all major shops. The minimum are exact product data (pictures, product information, prices, categorizations) and product attributes (color, variant, condition). The prices must be synchronized on the website, the search ads and in the stationary shop. After all, nothing annoys consumers more than if the supposed bargain on Google in the store turns out to be much more expensive.
Chatbot Twyla: customer service par excellence with AI
The ideal seller is factual, professional and never shy for an answer. The Berlin startup Twyla trains chatbots with the help of artificial intelligence and human support of the employees. On the basis of past and “listened-in” protocols, the bots collect the best answers for the customers, independently develop variants and provide the employees, especially with standard questions, an enormous relief. An effective customer service via machine.
Nothing works without competence in the shop
The best online distribution channel is of no use if the customer receives unfriendly or incompetent advice in the store. Thanks to the large online offer, many customers are even more informed than the shop assistant. It is therefore becoming more and more important for retailers to turn their branches into experience areas and to provide customers with competent advice, an appealing environment and friendly service.
To the author: Marcel Hollerbach is the Chief Marketing Officer of Productsup, a global enterprise product content syndication platform. He is also a founding partner of the Berlin-based Venture Capital Fund Cavalry Ventures, which specializes in early-stage investments, including the chatbot provider Twyla and the Marketing Automation Platform Crossengage. The 33-year-old studied Business Informatics in Würzburg and Stanford.