Drops in retail sales have made headlines for more than a year now. While the sales volumes are not what they used to be, the attention of smart retailers is focused on something else right now: the digital transformation that creates long-lasting, future-proof enterprises. Retail has evolved by leaps and bounds, making digital changes that would have taken years to achieve within mere months.
The industry is set to continue its transformation at the same accelerated pace.
Reaction Speed Is a Survival Skill in Uncertain Times
In the first half of 2020, brick-and-mortar retailers pivoted to eCommerce. It was a natural transition: the customers spent more time in their houses, ordering things online.
As restrictions lifted, retailers used digital transformation to inject value into the brick-and-mortar shops.
Physical shops and dispensaries were changing alongside eCommerce platforms transformed and shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well. A recent study by IDC showed that 80% of vendor executives deem customer experience as a priority and a key differentiating factor. Unsurprisingly, this number is confirmed by the 80% of customers who say that they would pay more for better CX.
Today, CX is no longer the prerogative of online platforms alone. It has become ubiquitous and it has moved across industries at an incredibly accelerated pace.
Embracing agility and the sudden cultural shift are the keys to retailers’ success in 2021 and beyond. This is the only way for traditional retail to serve unmet customer needs.
Brick-and-Mortar or Digital Stores -- a False Dichotomy
Prior to 2020, the media spoke about the extinction of mom-and-pop shops, along with shopping malls, that had become obsolete in a digital-first era. With Millennials setting shopping trends, the market gradually moved online, or so it seemed for a while. It was, in fact, the brewing of a transformation that brought digital experiences in physical shops, not replaced one with the other.
Yes, shoppers prefer a digital experience, especially the digital natives among them. But who said that this experience has to happen within your home?
What is, indeed extinct, is having to choose between digital and brick-and-mortar. We can have both under the same roof. Literally. In-store digital experiences are not “a trend for the future”. They are already being implemented by smart retailers who have understood the need for consistency and seamless transitions between the online and the offline worlds.
Cannabis dispensaries, for instance, have an opportunity to lead retail innovation when it comes to digital transformation. Their physical locations incorporate elements from the online world and integrate them seamlessly to create a borderless, cross-channel, and unifying experience.
Smart retailers don’t follow the queue and the digital-first demands of their customers. They exceed expectations and set higher standards for themselves and for the market. Smart retail means offering an experience that feels the same across online and offline channels. It means creating a sense of home without losing the ability to surprise your customers.
Digital-First Retail: A Sneak Peek Inside Agile Shops
Imagine this: you enter a dispensary and see there are quite a few people strolling through the shelves. You think about leaving -- it might take a while until the sales clerk gets to you.
But then you look around and see there’s no need to wait. The dispensary has smart stations and interactive POP displays that allow you to place your order and even get essential information about the products without having to speak to the clerk.
Better yet, if you place your order using a smart station, it will automatically recognize you as a repeat customer, so you won’t even have to waste time filling in all your data. It’s the same interface you’re used to from the online shop, with the added benefit of being able to browse the actual merchandise -- smell, touch, and see everything with your own eyes.
At the other end of the business transaction, the sales clerk is happy because the shoppers can find everything on their own. Thus, a single sales clerk is enough to serve dozens of customers per hour. Not long ago, you’d need at least three to serve the same number of shoppers.
The dispensary saves money. The customer saves time and enjoys a digital-first experience in a physical shop. Everybody wins.
Wrapping Things Up
The digital transformation might have been fueled by the pandemic. But, unlike the restrictions and the lockdowns, it’s here to stay. Smart retailers have created smart shops and the customers love them.
At The Peak Beyond, we have helped dozens of cannabis dispensaries and physical shops in other niches make this transition. Through our smart stations, interactive POP displays, menu boards, and data integration solutions, the retailers have found a new way to respond to the increased demand for digital-first CX.
The results came quickly: no more customer lines, 20% less staff overhead, and a 40% basket size increase -- to name only a few of the benefits.
Want to leverage smart retail technology? Get in touch with our experts! We’d be happy to recommend the solutions that fit your needs and your goals best.