For years the retail industry has been at the forefront of harnessing online analytics to refine the customer experience and generate purchase behaviour online.

However, retailers are facing some major challenges as they attempt to juggle their online and instore sales. The last three months of 2017 – the ‘Golden Quarter’ – produced mixed reports for the industry with some retailers, such as Tesco, John Lewis and Next, excelling in the run-up to Christmas and others reporting a sharp decline and issuing profit warnings.

Retail footfall continues to be a huge concern, December last year saw the biggest decline in footfall in almost five years, down 3.5% on the same month in 2016.  As customers desert the high street, it is clear, a key challenge facing retailers is the consumer experience instore and online.

Some of the biggest names in retail attended the recent National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York, to see how the latest digital innovations will revolutionise the industry. One of the main talking points was how retailers can introduce the latest innovative technology and drive footfall into their physical stores?

Today, the lines are blurring. Retailers no longer look at online and traditional stores as completely separate channels. By using a truly omnichannel approach, retailers can utilise their growing online presence to drive footfall in-store and ultimately thrive in this crucial, complex time for the retail industry.

Studies have shown that customers will spend more with companies who provide excellent customer service. By allowing customers to book in-store services online, brands can increase footfall to their stores while generating increased revenue by offering customers a service where they can talk to an expert instore. In addition, Millennials value experiences; time and moments matter to them and they expect a seamless transition during their physical and digital interactions with a brand. By offering customers a bespoke instore service with online booking, retailers can offer that “Instagram moment” which can be shared online and engages with consumers and the brand.

Ashley McKinnon BDM at Appointedd

Human interaction and the personal touch is difficult to replicate online. Booking instore services online allow retailers to track data that can be used to improve customer interaction when they visit a store. Insights are used to inform personal stylists and in-store advisors on customer preferences, helping them to provide a more tailored in-store experience.

Online booking software specialist, Appointedd, is enhancing the customer retail experience by allowing customers to go online and book in-store appointments. The innovative platform enables retailers to engage with customers in advance of their in-store appointments providing them with the opportunity to learn more about their customers’ preferences and provide a unique and personalised experience to customers when they come in-store.

There are many challenges for retail but it is an exciting time for the industry as businesses look to succeed in an ever-changing landscape. Retailers must embrace the latest innovations and keep pace with what their customers want and expect. Those who embrace change and move in time with technology will be in a stronger position to attract and retain customers.