The magic of search in retail: Lessons from Germany and beyond…

 

By Marino Casucci

How can retail chains gain market share in ecommerce and at the same time maintain customers loyalty across all their sales channels? Best practices from European retailers show that omnichannel strategies depend on the findability of all product and content data relevant to customers’ needs. Check out some of our key lessons from retailers in Germany and beyond:

1. Providing the best customer experience through omichannel distribution

More and more retail chains are implementing omnichannel strategies, in order to bind customers online and offline and to make their business models sustainable. Customers expect to have their buying desires fulfilled at any time, wherever they are. This is a shopping behaviour that tends to start with a search for a product, whether that be via a smartphone during a TV ad break, at information terminals in bricks and mortar stores or via a PC in an online shop.

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2. All data at the right time to the right customers

Customers take for granted that “channel-hopping” will work without a hitch. Retailers, however, face a technical challenge which cannot simply be overcome using a standard e-commerce solution; from various source systems, the entire range on offer – namely quantities of product data, availability, current daily campaigns – must be collected together in a centrally integrated platform and made digitally accessible. Only when all of this works, will investing in product data and content be more likely to elicit a rapid ROI. Thus, how you deliver content is just as important as creating it in the first place.

3. The search as an enabler to retail strategies

Through studying international retailers, who use an omnichannel approach, we’ve seen how search can be strategically deployed as a unifying element of the online and offline worlds, allowing the following:

1. Guiding online visitors to offline stores and exploiting ROPO (research online, purchase offline) effects.

2. Showcasing local availability across all digital channels.

3. Digital expansion of fixed storage capabilities.

4. Inspiring customers with other offer during the sales process.

5. Gaining customer insights by analysing and optimising data.

6. Swiftly entering international markets.

 

4. OBI inspires online visitors to shop in branches

Current Google studies substantiate the ROPO effect: 38% of all offline buyers do product research before going to shop in retail stores. In this case, ROPO customers have a higher average purchasing volume due to extra purchases.

The OBI Do-It-Yourself chain applied targeting efforts to boost this effect via enhanced usability and inspiring content: OBI guides its online visitors quickly and efficiently to the information they want, giving them added impetus to visit the local stores, where the visual aspects and personal advice bring the purchase decisions forward.

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Thanks to geo-localisation, every OBI site visitor can see where the nearest market is and has the option of restricting the search scope within local range and ordering items. This is a crucial service for items like cement bags which would be uneconomical to send. Individual scenarios determine how the omnichannel is realised.

5. Local availability: real, makes them accessible anywhere

More than one third of all mobile visitors are more likely to consider visiting a store in person if they are familiar with the availability of their desired products, which is why location-based services play a key strategic role for the retail chain real,-. Via both the mobile and online shop, customers are able to keep up with products and offers in the nearest local store with only relevant products displayed, i.e. those which are in stock in the selected store.

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6. Tablets drive 60% increase on in-store orders for SportScheck

Sports equipment retailer SportScheck equips its customer advisors with tablets as key sales aids, letting them call up product details, check stock and find suitable add-on products – all within seconds. If any items are wanted but aren’t currently in stock, they can be searched online and then delivered either to the nearest store or the customer’s home.

According to economics magazine Der Handel, SportScheck increased its in-store orders by 60% after six months of using the tablets. Additionally, the retailer profits from digital warehouse expansion: since in-store items need no longer be present in every conceivable size, the offline range can be made much more diverse.

7. Conrad Electronic inspires with sales-boosting online campaigns

Gaining a targeted influence on how people purchase through merchandising campaigns is something that’s always on the agenda for bricks and mortar stores, for example on an A-board or product promotions within an open space. German omnichannel retailer Conrad Electronic shows how merchandising campaigns can also be mapped out in an online shop:

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By exploiting on-site search and navigation, Conrad showcases special promotions or bestsellers in prominent places. Not only does this improve the customer experience and boost sales figures, but also by using a virtual sales platform, the advertising cost subsidy can be optimised in negotiations with suppliers and manufacturers.

8. Detailed analysis paves the way for optimisation measures

What makes our customers tick? Which brands are they after? And what did they buy when they were last here? Those who know the answers to these questions are well-placed to implement key optimisation measures. When retailers assess personal user data, click paths and sales data, they gain insight into what their customers want. The log file and details page analyses can be leveraged to find, for example, product line gaps or current areas of demand.

9. Search supports Yves Rocher with worldwide expansion

More and more retailers are expanding their worldwide market share using an internationalisation strategy. Yves Rocher, the world leader in botanical beauty care, runs online shops in more than 20 languages. To ensure that every new country shop is ready for action, the brand uses language-independent search technology and its multi-client capacity for local ecommerce managers. The search and navigation – the key functionalities of an online shop – thereby run in every language on the same quality level – without the need for customisation.

About the author

Marino Casucci, International Sales Director, FACT-Finder

http://www.fact-finder.com/

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