Customer experience is king when it comes to retail. The more convenient the shopping process is for the customer, the more likely they’ll make another purchase or recommend a shop.
Most would assume that the ultimate convenient experience would come from fully online shops. This is far from the case.
Online stores offer an extensive catalog of items that can be delivered with just a click. Still, this model has prevalent issues, such as return policies, authenticity, and security.
For this reason, more businesses adopt the “hybrid retail” business model, combining the convenience of online shopping with the features of brick-and-mortar stores.
But to fully understand why this model became such a global trend, we need to identify the core features of hybrid shops.
In a nutshell, hybrid shops combine brick-and-mortar stores with eCommerce through omnichannel systems. As a result, customers get a seamless and more personalized shopping experience.
Customers can use “BOPIS” (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) when looking through product catalogs. This way, they won’t have to wait for shipping to arrive and instead pick the item up when it’s most convenient.
Having a hybrid shop also means businesses can use eCommerce upselling strategies to increase revenue while providing customer value.
Through real-time online chat support, businesses can directly connect with customers and answer concerns regarding inventory, warranties, or returns.
Now that we know the basics of hybrid retail, here’s a look at data that reveals how this model became such a worldwide trend.
According to a recent IBM study, one out of four customers choose hybrid retail stores when they shop. In addition, 50% of the study respondents said that touching and feeling products before buying them accounts for a significant part of their purchasing decision.
Meanwhile, 43% of respondents said getting products immediately was their deciding factor. The study also suggests that Gen Z consumers are likely to be “hybrid shoppers” compared to other age groups.
Another emerging trend in shopping is sustainability. In fact, the study revealed that purpose-driven became the largest consumer group accounting for 44% of the respondents.
62% of the respondents were vocal about changing their purchasing habits to lower their carbon footprint. On top of this, 50% of respondents said paying for a 70% premium won’t be a problem if it promotes sustainability - something hybrid shops offer.
That said, here are three important statistical data on hybrid retail:
The holiday season is right around the corner, and shopping for friends and family can get hectic. This led to more consumers going “hybrid shopping” in preparation of potential supply-chain and inventory shortages.
According to Salesforce, online shopping this holiday season is expected to grow 7% compared to last year. Customers are also forecasted to spend more this year following two years of strict lockdowns due to the pandemic.
Sensormatic conducted a study suggesting 37% of consumers said they would go shopping before November. Meanwhile, 81% said they’d look for products to buy before December.
But instead of waiting for specific holidays for sales, customers are expected to shop earlier in hopes of securing specific products. But the most important aspect people are looking for has to be inventory transparency.
Narvar conducted a study that suggested that 35% of consumers won’t purchase a product online if they’re not sure when it will arrive. Based on the study, 37% of US consumers also expressed prioritizing stores that provide transparent delivery estimates.
This led to more retailers promoting BOPIS and curbside pickups. Shopify statistics reported that 34% US consumers from 18 to 34, and 28% of ages 35 to 54, plan to use kerbside pickup during Black Friday throughout Cyber Monday.
There’s no doubt that customers have control over shopping thanks to the prevalence of online and hybrid shopping. As such, there’s a greater emphasis on a customer's shopping journey, from looking at products all the way to check out.
Unfortunately, online shopping, with all its conveniences, lacks personality. This is where great customer service personalization from brick-and-mortar stores shine.
With that in mind, retailers can benefit from integrating digital insight into their physical stores. This combination should bring a seamless customer experience in whatever platform they shop, whether online or brick-and-mortar.
Retailers must update their brick-and-mortar stores as part of an omnichannel strategy. As a rule of thumb, the best practice for hybrid shops is optimizing the customer’s browsing, buying, and order fulfillment experience.
Using mobile devices is, without a doubt, one of the most convenient ways to shop. According to Adobe, smartphones are forecasted to account for 42% of total revenue, a 5% increase from last year.
Salesforce predicts a 30% increase in eCommerce traffic from social referrals. That said, businesses can use this data to increase revenue through effective social selling strategies in tandem with powerful shopify marketing tools.
This holiday season, three of the largest social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, have announced shoppable programming. Customers can expect to see live selling events where people get discounts and other perks.
For Instagram, this comes in the form of “Holiday Picks” in the app’s “Shop” tab. Pinterest features the new “Pinterest TV” with creator-led episodes. Facebook and Instagram also hosted live selling streams and offered discounts and free shipping.
Youtube, the largest video-sharing platform, also hosted a week-long shopping event that featured holiday-themed gifts.
Fully online shopping has several benefits and convenient services for customers. But several drawbacks are apparent. For example, customers must wait before getting a chance to hold the product.
Warranty concerns also take considerable time as products need to be shipped back to the seller. This alone adds extra expenses for the customers.
But customers who shop in hybrid retail stores don’t have to worry about any of that. Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits it offers for customers:
Customers have more opportunities to explore things through touch and sound when they browse in physical stores. They can take pleasure in browsing the aisles and taking in the store's ambiance and other amenities.
You can also integrate digital elements in physical stores, such as QR Codes that lead to more info about a product, sale, or event. Businesses can also use zero-party data to collect valuable customer data through personalized quizzes, polls, surveys, and more.
This strategy of referring physical store shoppers to your online resources cultivates a personal and long-term relationship with your consumers. As such, businesses can easily create a more immersive experience.
Having a physical store means that when people want to buy something, they may look at them up close and personal. That way, people won't fall victim to fake products, faulty gear, or wrong sizes.
Customers can also ensure they get the correct item if they pick it up from brick-and-mortar stores through kerbside pickups and other hybrid services.
Customers can pick up their purchased items online after completing the necessary payment. Because of this added convenience, hybrid shops can use eCommerce upselling strategies to boost revenue while providing customer value.
Buying products from fully online stores has its downsides. The most glaring is the inconvenience of returning items.
If a product is under warranty, customers still need to ship the item back to the sellers and wait for them to verify the issue. Meanwhile, with the hybrid model, customers gain access to the following:
In a hybrid model, firms have greater room to expand efforts aimed at boosting consumer satisfaction. That may be accomplished in several ways, one of which is through the use of software integration.
Integrating different pieces of software into one cohesive whole is what software integration is all about. The top e-commerce software allows you to do the following for your store:
Hybrid retail shops give both business owners and customers the best of both worlds. It combines convenience with accessibility. More importantly, it allows for an omnichannel and seamless transition from online to brick-and-mortar.
That said, here’s a quick recap of the key features hybrid retail has to offer: