Collaboration of E-commerce with Physical Stores

The retail sector has entered a period of significant transformation with rapidly changing consumer habits and technological advancements. Brands that strive to reach their customers through various online and offline channels are now attempting to integrate all these channels to better understand their customers' needs. How can physical stores and e-commerce channels be integrated to better serve consumers' needs and gain a competitive advantage? In this content, we will examine the interaction of e-commerce channels with physical stores and how to ensure that the digital in-store experience becomes part of the online shopping process.

1. Enriching the Physical Store with Digital Customer Experience:

While e-commerce is experiencing its golden age, 43% of customers still prefer shopping in physical stores that offer the advantage of trying products, experiencing a live interaction, and having a wide range of products to choose from. It is important to combine the experiences offered by these two channels to increase customer satisfaction in both channels and encourage customers to spend more time in online and offline stores. For example, if a customer likes a product in a physical store, they should be able to quickly access the online reviews of that product or additional color and size options through a QR code on the product label or an app. A proper inventory management system established between digital platforms and physical stores can easily solve how and when the customer can access the desired product most easily. We will examine this in more detail in the following sections. 

One of the periods when the digital experience can be used as an extension of the physical store is during discount and seasonal campaign periods. Customers whose past purchases and digital activities are analyzed on digital platforms can be invited to the store, where they can find the most suitable products for themselves in the correct segments, and special promotions and discount coupons can be defined for them. Conversely, points earned from in-store purchases can be defined as special discounts on the app or on different e-commerce sites. By defining different journeys on both sides, customers can experience a 360-degree brand experience and strengthen their loyalty to the brand.

2. Personalized Marketing:

With the pandemic, the dialogues established by companies with potential customers and followers on digital platforms, increasing the level and frequency step by step, have been gradually reduced from the community level to the individual level. Customers who are now experienced in digital platforms want brands to recognize them not as a number in the segment they are placed in but as individuals.

Salesforce's "State of the Connected Customer 5th Edition" report reveals that 62% of customers expect brands to understand their needs and offer them the right products at the right time by recognizing them. Meeting these expectations is possible for companies by collecting past customer behaviors and purchase information in CRM systems such as Salesforce, analyzing them with different tools, and providing insights. It is critically important that information is easily accessible by different departments for personalizing all processes from the first touchpoint with the customer to the delivery of the order or the completion of the desired support service. Instead of sending each call center back to the beginning of the process every time a customer calls, cloud systems that will support the recognition of the customer by the support staff in physical stores or in the field and provide personalized service to them should be established. For example, Salesforce's Service Cloud and Field Service products allow different teams to follow up on customers' needs simultaneously, enabling teams to interact with customers quickly and correctly.

3. Stock Management and Supply Chain Improvements:

E-commerce offers a significant advantage to businesses in making their inventory management and supply chain processes more efficient. This infrastructure that enables product tracking can be adapted to physical stores to be compatible with e-commerce systems. For example, e-commerce data can provide important information about which products need to be kept in stock in physical stores and whether the products are in the right store based on the segment they appeal to. This reduces storage costs while increasing customer satisfaction by informing the customer that the product they are looking for will be sent from the nearest store or warehouse.

4. Improvements with Data Analytics:

Data analytics is a powerful tool for both e-commerce and physical stores. Integrating this data can help better understand sales trends and develop strategies. For example, if online sales of a particular product are increasing while decreasing in physical stores, data analytics can be used to understand the reasons for this issue and take appropriate measures.

5. Progress with Technological Innovations:

Technological advancements can be used to gain a competitive advantage in the retail sector. For example, smart store technology can enrich the customer experience in physical stores. Mobile payment options can provide customers with a fast and secure shopping experience.

In conclusion, the collaboration of e-commerce channels with physical stores is of great importance in growing and gaining a competitive advantage in the retail sector. Improving the customer experience, optimizing business processes with data analytics, and embracing technological innovations can help successfully integrate these two channels. This makes it possible to provide better service to both online and offline customers and makes retail businesses more competitive.


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