Brick-and-mortar reclaims its advantage via clienteling

 

 

A generation ago, people shopped by visiting a retailer, chatting with the salesclerk, browsing and building relationships. An associate would place a call to customers if a new shipment arrived with pieces that were "just perfect" for them.

It's that sense of a personal touch that is critical to the success of brick and mortar to this day.

 

Online retail’s forfeited advantage

Several years ago, online retailers had the advantage over brick and mortars as they could efficiently collect much more data about customers at every visit.

They knew what pages the shopper had visited, which items were of interest, and how many times they visited before they purchased items.

That amount of information would take far longer for a traditional retailer to collect, at that time.

Fast forward five years, and technology can now provide brick and mortars with deeper information than ever before.

Now brick and mortars have an advantage over their online competitors, as their stores morph into showrooms where shoppers can physically inspect products, and associates can make personal connections.

 

Building relationships in-store

Today's retailers employ clienteling strategies to build customer relationships based on data collected about their preferences, purchases, lifestyle and other behavior.

Within stores, retailers are equipping associates with customer information that lets them deliver personalized service.

Clienteling software can be used to compile customer data from different channels – from in-store purchases to online browsing history to items stored on wish lists.

The in-store shopping experience can then be tailored to fit each customer’s unique interests and desires.

Such anticipation of needs enhances the customers' in-store shopping experience and helps associates sell more effectively.

 

Staying top of mind

Clienteling data not only enhances the shopping experience for those in physical stores but is also used by associates to reach out to customers between visits.

Clienteling technology can be used to create alerts about any event that forms a customer connection.

Associates with access to customers' spouses' birthdates, for example, might place a well-timed call detailing the latest merchandise that would make a great gift.

And stock alerts can be correlated to specific customers, so contact can be made when a new shipment from a specific vendor arrives.

Such focused, one-to-one outreach is extraordinarily effective in attracting repeat customers and sales of high-margin, full-price items.

 

Machine learning drives personalized recommendations

Intelligent product recommendations aren't limited to preparing for a customer's future shopping excursions: They can also be used real-time when the customer is in the store.

Store associates can greet and engage with individual customers, anticipate their needs and function as a trusted advisor.

Software tools that incorporate machine learning transform mounds of customer data into insightful, targeted and personalized product recommendations. Machine learning digests every page view, every "like" and every purchase.

The result is increasingly smarter recommendations.

Clienteling solutions help retailers identify customers' needs efficiently and quickly, so the shopping experience is ultimately more rewarding.

Implementing clienteling tools provides retailers and their associates the necessary tools to build long-lasting, profitable and mutually beneficial relationships.

9 tactics to borrow from luxury retail’s clienteling strategy to improve your omnichannel CX

 

 

Clienteling is extremely effective for engaging with customers in a way that leads to loyalty and a better overall experience with your brand.

But outside of luxury and small retailers who have personal relationships built into their business model, clienteling is a tough tactic to pull off – especially when you throw multiple sales channels into the mix.

So how can mid-sized and chain store retailers incorporate some of the same concepts that make clienteling so effective into their customer engagement strategy?

Here are 9 ways to improve your omnichannel customer experience with clienteling tactics.

 

1: Need-based sales

Train your employees to listen for customers’ unspoken needs when they’re helping them on the sales floor. For example, if they’re looking for a home theater system, help them evaluate not only the speakers and acoustic panels, but also the wireless headphones that will recreate the experience when the baby is sleeping. Help your customer think through every detail of the occasion and get them everything that meets those needs.

2: Customer profiles

Mobile POS is your friend. It gives your sales associates quick access to a customer’s profile and shopping history so they can be better informed when making recommendations. Retail Pro POS is device-agnostic, which means your sales associates have secure access to the same powerful customer management tools, whether on small mobile devices or full-sized desktop computers.

3: Always say YES

Having an iPad or tablet accessible while engaging with customers on the sales floor means your sales associates can look up inventory at nearby store locations to see whether they have the particular size or color the customer wants. Then, complete the sale through that store with send sale capabilities in Retail Pro POS.

4: Digital lookbook

Retailers going for the clean, modern look of a lean inventory strategy can use inventory images in your mobile POS or on your website as an endless aisle lookbook to help your customer pick out and order items you don’t carry in store.

5: Now trending

Analyze the POS sales data in business intelligence and visual analytics software like Retail Pro Decisions to see micro and macro trends and take action to make the goods available to more customers. If your top shoppers are loving your newest products, extend the offer to the next tier of shoppers to bring them into your stores and spread the love!

6: Personalized service online

Use your customer data in Retail Pro to offer the same kind of personalized service on your website. Basket analyses help you see what products shoppers tend to purchase together so you can recommend similar pairings to shoppers buying only one item or the other.

7: Behavior-driven offers

For shoppers who have an account with you, use their purchase history as the basis for your recommendations. AppCard for Retail Pro integrates customers’ POS data to make it easier to personalize offers to them. Email marketing campaigns personalized with your customers’ actual shopping behavior make them more relevant and more likely end in conversion.

8: Customer nurture

Between visits to store or site, nurture shoppers by anticipating their next need and proactively contacting them via email or SMS. A customer’s purchase history in Retail Pro POS can inform the offers you make to them and helps you create personalized promotions through the AppCard for Retail Pro solution.

9: Unified experiences

A cohesive customer experience shows you know and understand shoppers’ wants, exposes them to new products they may benefit from, and makes it more convenient for them to get what they need from you. The best way to do that? Tie the purchasing journey and communications together across channels by integrating all your customer-facing tools on the Retail Pro POS platform.

 

Luxury retail sets high standards when it comes to giving shoppers a meaningful, customized customer experience. Retailers incorporating clienteling tactics into their own customer engagement strategy across channels can differentiate themselves by better, more personalized experiences at every touchpoint.

 

 

3 Ways to build better customer profiles using Retail Pro POS

The elusive omnichannel shopper: she leaves her tracks everywhere but is yet to be understood.

Shoppers’ path to purchase today beelines from your store to your website on their computer at the office (used only during breaks, of course), to your mobile site on their tablet, to your app on their smartphone, and back.

Companies with strong omnichannel engagement are able to keep 89% of their customers, compared with 33 percent of companies with weak engagement.

But how can you keep customers and improve customer experience for shoppers whose journeys you’re still struggling to pinpoint?

Learn about your shoppers

One way is to build steps into your operations that will help you learn more about your customers. Basically, train your team to build customer profiles as they interact with shoppers.

But when you can give customers good reason to share their information with you online or in stores, you are in a better position to gather accurate data that will help you draw more useful, actionable insights from your company performance.

For example, if there’s something a customer wanted that’s not in stock, retailers can turn a bad experience into a positive one by placing an order for them from the store — with free shipping — delighting the customer while gathering additional shopper data.

Answers to a small number of carefully targeted questions can have a big impact on a business, whether in survey format or simply asked by an associate at the POS itself.

Of course, the simplest way (though not always the easiest way) to learn information about shoppers is to collect it directly from the source: Ask them. Here are 3 ways to build better customer profiles using Retail Pro POS.

 

1: Get feedback at the POS

Take time to chat with customers while ringing them up at the POS, and take notes.

POS flags in Retail Pro POS allow you to add quick-action buttons or fields to take note of shopper details at the POS, which you can then analyze and use to shape more effective decision making, or for their marketing campaigns, depending on the information you choose to capture.

Because workflows in Retail Pro are entirely tailorable to yours, you can automatically prompt sales associates to ask preset questions and record the answers.

This kind of information, collected incrementally over time, will help you build a truer understanding of your customers and draw conclusions to improve their experience.

 

2: Engage with shoppers on the sales floor

Having mobile POS available for your sales associates empowers them to do build customer profiles while they’re helping them on the sales floor. Retailers with a more consultative approach to customer engagement can create quick workflows to help associates create new customer profiles and start filling in the details while they assist: shoe size, scent preferences, skin tone.

Skincare brand Aesop uses Retail Pro to track, manage, and access customer data all over the world, ensuring the same experience for a particular customer regardless of location, because every store shares the same customer and inventory details.

“Our store consultants often work cross-country but the experience of working with the software is the same. We have one consistent thread through Retail Pro, though each store is entirely different,” said head of Aesop’s ICT, Troy Smith.

Over time these profiles will help your associates continue the conversation knowledgeably, making recommendations relevant to their needs because you see them through the customer’s history in the POS.

 

3: Invite your top shoppers to VIP in-store events

Inviting your top shoppers to exclusive in-store events not only rewards them and deepens their affinity for your brand, but also gives your team opportunity to keep learning about your shoppers.

Form your guest list using Retail Pro’s built-in reports on customer KPIs like total spend or Customer Lifetime Value. Then, get to learning about your customers’ preferences as you mingle over cocktails at your new product drop.

Or, use Retail Pro POS to collect information about visitors to the launch of your new pop-up store.

Designer brand Akris uses POS flags in Retail Pro POS to capture email addresses or phone numbers of customers attending their exclusive in-store events and then contact them for future events.

 

As you take advantage of these kinds of opportunities to build customer profiles, you’ll start learning more about your customers and can then more successfully unify your operations and customer engagement to place customers’ needs at the forefront of your business strategies.

 

VIP experiences that build loyalty in luxury retail

 

 

Luxury shopping is an experience all its own.

Included in the unique ecosystem of retailers catering to the very wealthy are loyalty programs.

Many recent program launches come from companies realizing that they need assistance building loyalty among affluent millennials, a subset that spends north of $2 trillion annually.

While stores are focused on rewarding their VIPs, the benefits are more high-flying than discount coupons and special events.

 

High personalization

First, these top-shelf programs are highly personalized.

Customers spending thousands of dollars expect to feel valued.

These programs go the extra mile for clients who are not only big spenders but often also influencers.

One highlight of such programs include concierge services.

Concierge services are the epitome of personalization — they are dedicated to helping regular customers optimize their shopping experiences.

For a fee, customers are treated to a variety of special services, including events, personal shoppers and exclusive experiences.

These retailers are betting that this extraordinary treatment will tighten the loyalty bond between customers and stores.

For example, jewelry companies might offer concierge services to customers who have made a large purchase such as an engagement ring to help them plan the engagement party.

Luxury car dealers such as Infiniti offer the free use of a personal assistant 24/7 for four years.

Companies can easily generate brand engagement and loyalty by providing assistance with important life moments as well as more mundane daily tasks.

Brands that reach out to customers, provide enhanced delivery and after-care services create deeper relationships and long-term loyalty.

Those companies may have rarified customers, but the retailers are down to earth when it comes to understanding their market, customers and goals.

Strategy is customized in a way that might include personal concierge services or a custom loyalty program — but both make customers feel valued.
 

Cutting-edge digital experience

Technology can help make a good experience great.

Traditional concierge and loyalty services are being enhanced with cutting-edge digital services.

By integrating the latest technologies into a traditionally low-tech segment, customers receive a truly unique experience.

Creating a deep emotional connection between brand and customer drives long-term loyalty.

The stakes are higher with the luxury segment, because expectations are much greater.

Loyal customers are the holy grail and the ultimate goal of any successful business, but retailers must commit to a long-term strategy with continual updates to ultimately be successful.

 

Using Retail Pro mobile POS to connect with customers on the sales floor

 

 

How does going mobile help you understand your customers?

It frees your sales associates from the cash wrap so they can more meaningfully engage with shoppers on your sales floor and learn about them!

There is no better way to personalize a customer’s experience than by actually getting personal and asking questions. What are they looking for? What’s the occasion? Can we help you find something to go along with the item you’re trying on?

That kind of human connection makes customers feel like they’re shopping with a friend, and it builds emotional attachment to your brand.

Then, when they’re ready, the associate can complete the sale right there on the spot.

 

 

United Colors of Benetton use Retail Pro on tablets in their hip new flagship redesign. The mobile POS reinforce the brand’s ultramodern mood and allows an exclusive payment via mobile and card only, potentially everywhere in the store, reducing the time spent in a queue.

You’ll need to train associates on smoothly transitioning from the personal shopper role to closing the sale and packing their purchase. Positioning bagging stations at key, central points in your store will help keep the efficiency of the traditional queue, without its anti-climactic, assembly line feel.

The best thing about mobile POS is its versatility. Since Retail Pro POS is a browser-based software, you can use it on your choice of Apple, Windows, or Android devices.

And with support for biometric login, Retail Pro helps your employees log in faster and jump back into that assembly line mode for a fast and efficient checkout experience. Plus, the stocking associates can pull out another mobile POS to bust through the line faster.

Thinking about going mobile in your stores? Request a demo and get this whitepaper to see if mobile is right for your enterprise.

 

 

Attract, Explore, Inspire: United Colors of Benetton

 

United Colors of Benetton's London flagship on Oxford Street marks a significant change of pace for the Italian fashion brand.

 

 

The retailer has incorporated informal, hi-tech spaces into the three-storey space, as well as a knitwear theatre which it claims will offer 'an ultimate brand experience that goes beyond the traditional idea of a shop'.

The 1,500 sq m store is located on the east side of Oxford Street, close to the new Tottenham Court Road station on the Elizabeth Line, and part of a rapidly developing area. It will be an outpost for Benetton in the UK, a market where the brand is present with 55 points of sale and where it plans to expand its activity further.

 

 

“As the world of retail is rapidly changing, the design brief specifically tackles how consumer habits are adjusting, while digital shopping is increasing exponentially, and at the same time physical experience is proving a key factor to a successful retail format, that cannot be left out,” says Michele Trevisan, global head of retail design at Benetton. “When we started the project, the brief was not just to do another flagship store; the idea was to create a brand amplifier, a place where the customers can become users of the brand’s philosophy, not just simple consumers. Therefore, we decided to use three drivers for the project: attract, explore and inspire.”

 

 

On the exterior, an arched counter-facade invites passersby to enter and dream. While the 12m-high arches recall classical architecture, the LED screen cladding will showcase interactive content curated by Fabrica, playing with colour textures, images and illustrations.

“The store façade is the main attracting element, not just a simple facade but a strong and impactful communication tool. The façade philosophy is in fact a combination of the classical architectural elements of the arcade together with a digital LED skin in which the content displayed allows interaction with the public,” explains Trevisan.

 

 

Once inside, shoppers are encouraged to explore the space around them. The store has been designed entirely by Benetton's retail design department and furnished with natural materials such as wood, iron and stone.

“The store layout and the product displays have been designed to simplify the circulation and the product exploration, while the interaction between sales associates and customer is facilitated thanks to a new mobile payment system and the presence of innovative express check out desks which allow a more friendly and queue-free service,” says Trevisan.

 

 

United Colors of Benetton is an Italian company with more than 50 years of history, and this was the real starting point of the project.

“We are proud of being an Italian brand in an international fashion world. That’s why we developed the interior design mood using a selection of warm, elegant and honest materials with Italian taste. The flooring features terrazzo Veneziano for most of the floor area, an essence of ash tree wood furnishes all the furniture in combination with natural iron elements, while the ceiling is composed of a mix of high gloss surfaces, metal mesh and an interpretation of a classical Italian cassettoni wood ceiling. In specific areas, greenery is added to complete the natural environment via the presence of live trees and plants. Colours and finishes are inspired by the Mediterranean environment,” adds Trevisan.

Staff are on hand in the knitwear theatre to present Benetton's vast knitwear collections. In the lounge area, customers can relax while reading books and design magazines. In addition, a series of touchscreen tables allow visitors to interact with the entire collection as well as with the brand's most significant contents.

 

 

Customers will be able to move fluidly across the three levels – dedicated to men's, women's and children's collections – thanks to a 'loop' staircase that extends like a ribbon across the shop floors and leads to a series of scattered stations that replace traditional checkouts.

 

 

Technology is also key to the customer experience. Inside the store, two digital applications were created with the intention to simplify the customer’s activity reducing the waste of time. The first one is the mobile payment system that, thanks to the use of Retail Pro POS on WiFi tablets, allows an exclusive payment via mobile and card only, potentially everywhere in the store, reducing the time spent in a queue.

 

 

The second one is represented by three digital interactive tables showcasing content on selected products, on the Benetton brand initiatives and, thanks to the use of an integrated RFID antenna, they release technical information about the products that are placed on the tabletop.

The new Oxford Street flagship is Benetton’s 16th UK store.

 

United Colors of Benetton leverages Retail Pro POS on mobile tablets for a modern, focused customer experience. Get this whitepaper to see if mobile POS is right for your brand.

 

 

Guest post from our friends at Retail Focus. Read the original story in Retail Focus April 2018.

Want loyal customers? Gartner says: Improve their experience.

 

A recent report from Gartner found that a large majority — 81% — of customer experience (CX) leaders predict they will compete mostly or entirely on CX.

However, less than half of those responding have established the rationale for why CX drives business outcomes.

In addition, although companies believe they are improving CX, it's unclear whether they are actually doing so.

By their own metrics, 48% of respondents said their CX efforts exceed management’s expectations, but only just 22% reported those efforts exceeded customers’ expectations, according to the Gartner report.

Retailers' CX strategies are clearly falling short, but improvements can be made. Here are some suggestions from the Gartner study.

 

1: Assess capabilities

Retailers should take a deep dive and determine whether the data they capture provides a clear picture of customer wants, needs and expectations, rather than their perceptions of existing initiatives.

Once the customer data is gathered, touch points identified, and measurement systems implemented, consider demographics.

Millennial customers, for example, enjoy complicating CX matters.

Research shows that millennials don't take loyalty programs as seriously as older customers, because they bristle at the idea that a brand would take their business for granted.

While they may be regular customers at a particular retailer for a while, millennials need fresh, compelling reasons to be loyal.

 

2: Tailor customer journey maps

Provide relevant experiences at key touch points to drive customers deeper into the buy, own and advocate journey.

Brands hoping to secure loyalty need to start by putting themselves in their customers' shoes: How can a brand show loyalty to its best customers?

Understanding guests and customers across all channels and touch points is critical, no matter where they are on the customer journey.

 

3: Measure more innovative CX efforts differently

CX leaders must make sure to measure their more innovative customer experiences against adoption, perception and financial objectives.

Customer experience must evolve, but it must do so bearing in mind the successes of the past.

Understanding the differences between customer segments is critical.
If customers are primarily millennials, engage in a way that aims to satisfy their desire for recognition and status.

Provide them with a platform for standing out as trendsetters.

But if baby boomers are a majority of clientele, understand they prefer high touch over high tech: Service with a smile is paramount for those customers.

Gartner boils it down to this: understanding customer experience is paramount to success, one size does not fit all, and it's the customer's perception that matters most.

No matter how successful a retailer thinks it is in providing top notch service, the customer's opinion is still always right.

3 Ways to win back your ex-customer

 

One school of thought among customer service managers today is that it doesn't pay to wow your customer.

Instead, it is more desirable — and more cost effective — to "meet expectations."

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with that strategy for retaining customers, it is not a solution for winning back customers.

Why would you want to win back customers?

So you don't have to start from scratch.

The cost of attaining new customers is far greater than retaining them.

"Lost customers" may have replaced your company — but they were once regulars, and did at one point have fond memories of your business.

You need to rekindle the flame, and often, it's not that different.

It's definitely less expensive than cultivating a customer.

Clearly, the optimal state is to always operate in a way that naturally retains customers, so your business isn't faced with losing customers.

Such a retailer would have a solid loyalty program, innovative programming, special events and a personalized approach overall.

But miscommunication happens and mistakes are made. All is not necessarily lost, but you must be authentic in your approach.

Here are 3 ways to win the customer back.

 

1: Apologize sincerely

Saying, "I'm sorry" is anathema to some retailers.

However, some situations simply do require a direct apology: Shipments that routinely missed delivery dates, a chronic shortage of salespeople, unreasonable check out lines, for instance.

Those circumstances can and should be addressed at the moment of impact.

Some of those can slip under the radar and aren't noticed until they've created a pattern.

If a specific problem has come to your attention that has caused a significant drop in regular shoppers, you can address the situation with a positive promise in a customer communication after the fact: "We're happy to let you know about our new personal shopper program," or "We have increased our associate staffing to get you in and out of our store faster."

 

2: A coupon helps

Discounts and coupons are a common customer retention tactic, but can also work for those who have drifted off.

The best way to regain these customers and begin to build loyalty is by saving them money.

Note, you're not rebuilding loyalty, because chances are, you never had it.

You'll have to start over with the disadvantage of having to make up for a negative past.

Own up to what went wrong and offer a gesture in compensation.

 

3: Find out why they left

Data analysis can help.

Look at your customer data and evaluate past purchases.

Determine what the sweet spot is for this customer.

And, importantly, see if you can note a trend that would allow you to predict what other customers might also follow suit, so you can form an intervention plan.

If you can have a dialogue with those customers — in person, via email or chat session — try to learn what would make them return.

Not every customer is a keeper.

For example, the customer who is a bully with employees or the customer who abused return policies are not worth the time and effort to keep them.

But most customers are worth retaining, because they fit your target customer persona, spend regularly and some are vocally loyal.

Marketing Metrics says you have a 20-40% chance of winning back an ex-customer.

Simply meeting their minimum expectations means they might return another day.

Exceeding expectations means you won't have to chase after them when a "better deal"— whether for price or service — comes along.

Shoppers don’t care about your POS. So why does it matter for CX?

 

 

Retail exists in an ongoing tension: how to run retail profitably without forfeiting its heart – to meet people’s needs and bring joy.

Unified technologies are integral in this balance, offering a truer picture of your business and customers so you can discover and act on opportunities to better serve your customers.

For example, having your inventory data visibility across stores means when your store is out of stock on a particular product, sales associates can check its availability at other locations.

But merely seeing product availability only goes so far.

Having actual connected data means your sales associate can save the sale by placing an order to the other store using send sale capabilities.

They can then set up the order to be fulfilled either by shipping it to the customer’s home or nearest store, or to have the customer pick it up at that location.

This way, you’re saving customers from disappointment and you’re saving sales.

Customers are happy – check.

Inventory is moving – check.

You’re increasing profitability – check.

 

How unified tech actually helps CX

So how do you do this with Retail Pro POS?

Retail Pro is a platform technology, so you can unify all your retail technologies on its foundation.

That means you can connect data from your ERP, CRM, email marketing platform, dropship tools, RFID, ecommerce, and every other tool you use.

Not only does this give your sales associates tools to better serve your customers – because they’ll have access to shoppers’ purchasing history and preferences for clienteling and they’ll be able to get them what they want every time – but it will also give you the meticulous visibility you need to really see what’s happening in your business.

With data connected in the Retail Pro POS platform, you can set up real time updates between applications and get better accuracy in stock management and order fulfillment.

You can color in a fuller picture of what’s happening in your business and use KPIs to uncover areas for improvement.

Our accessible application program interface lets you integrate all pertinent data and automate data exchanges so you’re increasing efficiency and acting on the data insights you’ll get.

With data-backed insights, you can take steps to actually improve customer experience in ways that will be meaningful to shoppers and will add to their convenience in buying from you.

 

Putting shoppers first

Retail’s goal is not just selling and upselling for profit’s sake, though yes, profitability is what keeps you in business.

But really, retail is about connecting shoppers to goods that might help them live life a little more productively, a little more delightfully, a little more generously.

Retail is about putting shoppers’ needs first, and unified commerce built on Retail Pro helps you do it better.

Talk to your Retail Pro Business Partner or request a consultation today to see how Retail Pro can help you unify commerce.

 

Is it really discovery shopping if Amazon found it for you?

Effects of data-driven curation on discovery experiences

 

 

Remember when a trip to the store could yield a new discovery -- an unplanned purchase but one that delighted the customer?

Ecommerce handles specific shopping needs seamlessly and efficiently: Search for “motorized pedal exerciser” and buy it in less than three minutes.

But so-called "discovery" shopping — such as figuring out what to get your hard-to-shop-for great aunt for her 90th birthday — is much easier to do through brick and mortar browsing.

 

Selling discovery experiences

The world of in-store commerce offers shoppers an experience, an interaction with others that can't be replicated online.

In the best-case scenario, the experience is enjoyable and memorable, one that a shopper wants to repeat with that retailer and emulate at others.

No matter how good a recommendation engine or a chatbot is, the feeling a shopper gets from finding a perfect product can only come from shopping in a physical store.

That is, until an online retailer aggregates its collected data and presents it in a physical store as a curated collection to reach a specific audience.

If an online behemoth parlayed all the knowledge it has gleaned from the data it has gathered about its ecommerce shoppers, that retailer could be very well positioned against its competitors, online as well as brick and mortar.

 

Peer-based discoveries

Amazon has recently opened a handful of Amazon 4-Star physical locations, which are designed with discovery in mind. All the items are top-rated, and the selection will change frequently, depending on their customers' ratings.

The first, in the SoHo section of New York City, offers at-a-glance products that are "popular in SoHo," "frequently bought together" and "most wished for," among other categories.

Amazon can easily put these displays together due to the data it collects on its online shoppers. And that data collection continues to grow offline.

Amazon-exclusive products are also available, and Prime members get the Amazon price, while non-members pay MSRP. Signing up for Prime in the store not only provides customers lower pricing, but also adds to Amazon's information database.

Shoppers can see how many ratings a product has received and what the average rating is. Others have reviews displayed nearby.

The combination of a physical location and all that aggregated data is a fierce combination.

 

Personal discoveries

However, "discovery shopping" is more than simply sorting through trends and selecting from the most popular items.

If that were the case, small, specialized shops and boutiques would not be frequented, shunned for larger, on-trend department stores.

But the opposite is largely the case.

Discoverers aim to find the one-of-a-kind for a more personal gift or to satisfy their own personal taste. That's more likely to be found in a shop on Main Street than online, because it is not mass produced, so it therefore can't have hundreds of reviews.

 

In the end, Amazon's strategy for its physical stores, and any others like it, will mirror that of large department stores that have built a decent ecommerce channel.

Those stores, such as Macy's, Target and Kohl's, can also look at their data, slice it up regionally and offer only those products based on that data.

While not quite as personal as the local shop on the corner, there's a huge opportunity for larger companies to meet their customer needs more precisely.