This article was originally published in Retail Customer Experience by Mark Hardy.
Amazon may be the biggest threat to brick-and-mortar retailers right now, but it's far from catastrophic: only about 13 percent of all retail activity in the U.S. happens online. In fact, Amazon's moves in recent years toward establishing a presence in the physical world show that it sees brick-and-mortar as a key part of the future of retail.
What's really intriguing, though, is that these recent maneuvers also hint at how traditional retailers can stay competitive with the e-commerce giant: by offering stress-free returns, enabling in-store pickup for online orders, and getting store layout just right to optimize customer experience. And if you're daunted by the magnitude of those tasks, take heart: mixed reality solutions currently on the market can help with all three by simplifying the store layout quandaries they pose. Here's a look at how.
Make returns stress-free
Amazon's partnership with Kohl's lets online shoppers return items at physical Kohl's locations, eliminating one of the biggest headaches of shopping online. Brick-and-mortar retailers should take note: returns are now something online shoppers expect to be not only allowed but also easy.
While returns may be hard on the bottom line, they're something today's shoppers count on. You can make their buying decisions easier by offering a clear, simple return policy and displaying it in your store and on your website.
If and when customers come in for returns, train staff in how to handle the process so that the process is stress-free and customers are inspired to shop again. (More on making that a reality in a minute.)
Offer in-store pickup of online orders
Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods has enabled it to offer in-store pickup of internet orders, home delivery of groceries, and now curbside grocery pickup for Prime customers.
This is a move all brick-and-mortar retailers can and should learn from: give shoppers the option to make a purchase on your website and pick it up in your store. This offers a double win: your customers don't have to pay shipping, and you give them an excuse to come into your store. In a best-case scenario, they'll be inspired to make an additional purchase while they're there.
Maybe just as important here, though, is that offering this service will fulfill what's likely becoming an expectation they have of retailers, thanks to Amazon's precedent.
Get store layout just right
This is where mixed reality comes in.
Read more at Retail Customer Experience.