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Fighting Fire With Fire: 3 Tools to Blaze Past the Competition

Retailers weathered a few storms during the past year. Global pandemics, massive protests, political upheaval and more made it hard to survive. But the worst part of the past year was the palpable absence of our favorite customers.
According to recent research, over 40 percent of consumers switched brands, which is almost twice the level of change that took place from 2019 to 2020.


When consumers did visit stores, they were also more mission-driven. During the pandemic, they spent less time browsing and were more focused on finding basic necessities.


Due to social distancing and lockdown mandates, customers didn’t interact with salespeople as frequently or as closely as before the pandemic. Getting what you needed and getting out became the new way of shopping for many consumers and as a result, in-person shopping shrank dramatically.


The question on the top of the agenda for retailers today is, how does a brick-and-mortar retailer compete in this changed world? Luckily for retailers, technology innovators leveraged the pandemic to solve new challenges and help aid the return of safe in-person shopping. Here are three key techniques that retailers are leveraging to their advantage.


Digital to delivery

Even if a customer orders online, it’s still possible to create an in-person interaction experience with your customers to drive store loyalty and future shopping. When shoppers return, according to researchers at CGS, consumers will crave more human connection from service people. As such, brick-and-mortar retail stores have a real opportunity to capitalize on this expectation.


The best way for retailers to do this is to show up themselves—don’t out-source the delivery. Call the customer and ask them when they’d like you (or your employee) to hand-deliver their goods.
While this kind of real interaction can be resource-consuming, in-person commerce is proven to build great consumer loyalty and has demonstrated increased RPU. Put a “face” to your business and build your reputation as a trusted local retailer. You can do something that is beyond the scope of Walmart or Amazon. Use your superpower for good.


Online to in-store

If you or your staff can’t do an actual in-person delivery, there’s a second way to ensure that customers remember your store and come to visit: in-store pickup. There are four steps to success with this model:

    1. Ensure your online store is an accurate and complete representation of your real stock at your storefront.


    1. State clearly on your website that although customers can order online, delivery takes time, but in-store pickup is immediate.


    1. Make sure that when an online order (with pickup selected) comes through your system, it is prioritized the same way as it would be if the customer is standing in front of you at the counter.


  1. Finally, make the actual in-store pickup an absolute pleasure for your customer. Add a personal note thanking them for visiting your store. When you hand them the merchandise, thank them by name and suggest a complementary item (here’s your chance to upsell or cross-sell!). In-store pickup is also a super-power that Amazon is trying to match, but they’ll never match your customer service skills or knowledge of individual customers.


Drive loyalty inside your store

Despite the lack of paper-based stamp cards during the pandemic, research shows consumers are more likely to conduct business with a store if it has a loyalty program. In fact, highly engaged customers buy 90 percent more often and spend 60 percent more per transaction. However, 79 percent of consumers are also more likely to join a rewards program that doesn’t require them to carry a physical card.


Two technologies have been found to be useful for brick-and-mortar store retail loyalty programs. Many stores now let consumers scan in-store QR codes to a smartphone for instant loyalty points, while other stores are using capacitive touch screen technology to capture actual in-store presence. QR codes can be generated by you online, or by third-party companies.


Capacitive “Spark” technology can be deployed with a physical “stamping” device held behind the counter, or through a tiny holder sitting on a counter in the store. Deploying either of these hands-free systems can make loyalty easy and fun and drive more foot traffic.


Consumers are eager to return to their favorite stores

A recent McKinsey survey shows that many consumers are feeling optimistic about visiting retail stores in 2021.
Consumers are coming back. Discretionary spending is high on the list for consumers who have been deprived of in-person apparel and beauty shopping. This means that specialty one-of-a-kind stores, gift stores, and high-end salon and retail experiences matter.
As such, make sure your storefront is ready for this retail resurgence by optimizing these three key techniques.





Ned Hayes is a bestselling author and CEO of SnowShoe, the leader in smarter mobile location. Previously, Ned was the General Manager of SureID and founded Identity Locker and TeleTrust.

He also furthered product innovation at Xerox PARC, Intel, Microsoft, and Adobe and contributed to multiple technology patents for these companies. Ned was educated at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He also studied cyborg identity and robotic ethics at the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley.