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Linking two spheres of shopping through digital: In-store and at-home

Retailers have taken big steps to connect and engage the consumer. Yet there’s a vital missing link.

The home-store disconnect

Advanced digital technology is increasingly in everyone’s homes and personal lives, bringing the online and physical worlds closer together.

However, for retailers, in-store and at-home experiences are still largely disparate. While some retailers are rightly investing to strengthen the online channel, research shows that customers still prefer the brick and mortar experience for certain aspects of shopping, such as talking to knowledgeable sales associates.

Accenture Labs believes this disconnect presents opportunities to capitalize on customer context outside the store.

How can we provide useful services in the home and at the store that more closely link the two places, making the shopping experience more convenient for customers and the engagement time more meaningful for retailers?

Most retailers are investing in their in-store or at-home experiences. But there are significant, untapped opportunities to make connections with customers by crossing the two spheres of influence.



Opportunities await

Through digital technology, a retailer can focus on one stage of the customer journey, or a blend of several, to create a distinctive experience that connects both home and store. For example:

Introduction 

Engage - Lower barriers for customers to take action as needs are assessed (point-of-decision), extending reach into customers’ homes and supporting their activities when customers realize they need a product.

Introduction 

Discover - Use technology-derived insights to develop more relevant products and deliver better customized services; offer opt-in services to collect and use data available in the home to generate personalized recommendations.

Introduction 

Transact - Make checkout quicker, easier and more secure; people increasingly appreciate the convenience of mobile payment services—automatic ride-sharing charges, for example.

Introduction 

Operate - Analyze consumer behavior, purchases and inventory data to inform the shopping experience; digital makes it easier for retailers to track customers’ online and mobile shopping habits, using cookies and apps, and their in-store behavior, with a combination of beacon technology and video analytics.

Introduction 

Service - Schedule, deploy and fulfill delivery on time with fewer costs and full transparency to track items.

Introduction 

Grow - Use purchase data to expand cross-sell and up-sell prospects, or to identify opportunities to offer new products and services.

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Feedback - Capture real-time product evaluations in context and respond with more meaningful service solutions.



Making the connection

Retailers should first define their preferred entry points as part of a broader effort to meet customer experience objectives.

Compare the digital “lenses” and select the experiences that work best to bring the in-store and at-home locations closer together.

For example, some companies structure their organizations with stores and online/mobile shopping as separate units; ideally, however, these should work as one entity to serve customers and enhance their experience.

Next, determine which new or emerging digital technology (including those from the startup ecosystem) will enhance each particular customer experience.

Finally, figure out how to combine these technologies effectively, then rapidly test and pilot the solution.

Those who take these steps and use digital innovatively at each stage of the customer journey will be able to connect—and ultimately merge—the in-store and at-home spheres into one highly sophisticated and seamless customer experience.

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