There’s a style of shopping that’s setting a new trend. The hybrid store.
E-commerce may have seen rapid growth, with worldwide sales expected to hit $416 billion in 2023. But consumers are still visiting stores in droves.
The hybrid store unifies digital and brick-and-mortar shopping into a single seamless experience.
It’s a place where customers can interact with products digitally and physically, while store associates can engage more intelligently in the sales process.
In this guide, we explore more about what hybrid shopping is, its value to customers and associates, and why smart devices with smart data capture make it fast and affordable to implement.
Read on to learn how to turn customers into brand advocates and store associates into high-performing sales consultants.
What is a hybrid store?
E-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores are very different experiences.
This is because a physical shopping experience isn’t necessarily as personal as a digital shopping one. For example, an e-commerce site knows the whole purchase history of a customer and can offer personalized recommendations.
In a store, unlike e-commerce, customers can see, touch and feel products but any deeper personal interaction is limited.
The solution for delivering the best of both worlds is the hybrid store.
But what is a hybrid retail store?
A hybrid store combines digital experiences with in-person physical shopping. It enables retail spaces and brands to deliver an e-commerce personalized style of interaction and the tactility of physical shopping.
Think of it as a blurring of lines between traditional and online retail.
Making it happen relies on effective and high-performing technology. One such technology is smart data capture on smart devices.
It enables a customer or store associate to interact with products, both physically and digitally to:
- Create an emotional connection to drive sales
- Deliver product information for more informed purchases
- Enjoy better service
Ways to implement a hybrid store - customers
The hybrid store is a great way to meet the demands of today’s sophisticated consumer.
As well as wanting to see, feel and touch products, people like to read reviews, access product information, compare products and redeem personalized offers.
Hybrid shopping gives customers all of this under one roof.
According to a global survey by IBM and the National Retail Federation (NRF) of 19,000 consumers, one in four consumers choose to shop in a hybrid way.
But how do you implement the hybrid store? As with many key developments, the answer lies in technology.
And in this case, it involves combining the capabilities of smart data capture technology and the ubiquity of smartphones to capture data from products.
When you enable a customer’s smart device with smart data capture technology, it gives them the power to walk into a store, scan products and access all kinds of information immediately and in real-time.
Here are some of the ways you can enhance a customer’s in-store shopping experience:
Customers, in today’s online-first world, expect an easy way to gather product information to make an informed purchase decision.
However, the ease of access to information and product comparisons online is hard to replicate when shopping in store. For instance, comparing nutritional information usually means picking up products one by one and deciphering printed labels.
But with smart data capture, consumers can scan product codes to access this type of information with the smartphone in their hand.
A quick scan can reveal information including product description, price, offers, and the ability to add to a wishlist or shopping cart. Creating a hybrid experience that delivers real-time data to the customer.
Weeshop is already doing this by changing the way consumers do their weekly grocery shop. A Weeshop mobile self-checkout app integrates Scandit Smart Data Capture including augmented reality (AR) to provide product information to consumers – guiding them on the healthiness, environmental sustainability and social impact of products.
Augmented reality helps customers shop in a more healthy and sustainable way at Weeshop
Product reviews and offers
When smart data technology includes AR it provides retailers with a fun, innovative and new way to connect with their customers.
Consumers can enjoy a unique experience when shopping in the retail environment with the help of an AR-enabled app.
For example, a shopper could use a phone to scan the barcode on some desired headphones. The app would then reveal any offers or reviews in the form of on-screen AR.
UK grocery retailer Nisa is already doing this with an AR-powered voucher app, resulting in an 80% conversion between vouchers issued to redemption.
“Through Scandit’s augmented reality within the Scan & Save app, Nisa shoppers can receive instant product information, including allergens and reviews, enabling informed buying decisions, uplifts in sales, shopper engagement, and retailer product ordering.”
Greg Deacon, Jisp’s Chief Customer Officer
Online retailers know a lot about us. They use that information to offer unique discounts or personalized shopping experiences.
Physical retailers need to do the same thing. Personalized offers are great for encouraging spending and building loyalty.
Using a smartphone app loaded with profile data, individual offers can be communicated to consumers the moment they step into the store and scan the shelf edge or item label.
It’s easy to do and the element of gamification can encourage repeat visits and purchases.
You can see how Denmark’s largest grocery retailer Coop increased customer engagement with personalized discounts and loyalty bonuses here with their Scan & Betal app.
Another option is to give store associates the tools to scan loyalty and ID cards to accelerate the sign-up process and access any rewards the customer is due.
This may help increase basket size and allow them to make personalized product recommendations.
Ways to implement a hybrid store - employees
Store associates are often the difference between poor and great customer service in a store.
But very often, they are hamstrung by a lack of information or fixed terminals to be able to engage with customers in a meaningful way.
The hybrid store, and its mix of physical and digital interactions, offers the opportunity to optimize store customer experiences.
By empowering employees with up-to-the-minute information on smart devices, they can build significant connections and loyalty with customers, anywhere in the store.
Delighting consumers also has payoffs for the employee. Job satisfaction goes up as they deliver a high-value service to those they interact with.
Here are some of the reasons why implementing the hybrid store makes sense:
One of the major detractors of the in-store experience is having to wait for a sales associate to check stock or access product information. Consumers don’t wait online, so why should they wait in-store?
How environmentally friendly is this item? How much does this cost to run? Do you have this model or accessory? Which product option has which features? Do you have this item in stock? All questions that are regularly asked.
Within a hybrid store, an associate can simply scan an item using an app powered with smart data capture to access a wealth of up-to-date information from anywhere in the store.
It gives sales associates the power to answer a variety of questions on the spot without leaving a customer’s side. And provide clienteling and a hybrid shopping experience with a device that fits in their pocket.
There’s no need to cause friction by constantly dashing back and forth to the stock room or fixed terminal or consulting with another colleague.
And if an item is out of stock, the associate can use the same device to reserve it for the customer at another store or order for home delivery.
River Island was able to unlock new opportunities to uplift its customer experience when it integrated Scandit Smart Data Capture into its employee-facing app. Modernizing workflows and connecting store associates while significantly reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).
Retailers see several business benefits when they make the checkout process easy and frictionless.
Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) and self-checkout both help to transform the customer experience.
The value of mPOS
For retailers where customer service is still an important part of the buyer journey, such as cosmetics or consumer electronics, mPOS can be the answer.
Associates can process transactions anywhere in the store with a smart data capture-powered mPOS app on their phone, all without leaving the customer’s side. No need for a bulky sled to handle the scanning either.
In a recent report retailers said average order size went up by 25% after deploying mPOS on smart devices.
The convenience of self-checkout
Letting customers scan and purchase items from the store using their own smartphones is the easiest way to improve conversion rates because there isn’t any friction involved.
There’s no delay in having to wait for a sales associate, no waiting in line and no chance to abandon the purchase if the customer is having second thoughts.
Also, it frees up associates to handle more added-value tasks and eliminates the need for bulky fixed point-of-sale areas.
- It’s easy to use, even for those not familiar with smartphones
- Checkout is efficient, limiting time spent in stores
- It takes less time than standing in line at the register
Read how Decathlon, the world’s largest sporting goods retailer, integrated Scandit technology to address real estate constraints in physical stores and raise in-app self-scanning purchases.
Speedy store pickups
The Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) retail model has grown in popularity in recent years, making the hybrid store a shopping essential.
In fact, according to invesp, nearly 67% of shoppers in the US have used Buy Online Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) in the past six months.
It places a lot of pressure on retailers and their store associates to have an efficient order fulfillment process.
Within a hybrid store using a single device powered by Scandit Smart Data Capture, the whole process can be easily streamlined.
Order pickers can:
- Find items immediately aided by visual guides of product location
- Pick and pack orders quickly with the industry’s fastest scanning engine
- Locate and destage the correct order with a simple AR overlay
- Confirm that the order has been received
The risk of human error and waiting times for customers are reduced.
And if age verification is required, employees can scan a wide variety of identification documents using the same device.
Instacart, North America’s leading online grocery platform is a great example of order-picking speed and efficiency. Their in-store Shopper app, powered with Scandit Smart Data Capture, scans millions of products each month.
The hybrid store is within your grasp
Online, in store, or even online while in store, the concept of omnichannel has no boundaries for consumers. They expect a similar branded experience wherever they are.
Going forward, this means an element of retail digital transformation and offering hybrid shopping as the norm.
This guide highlights the benefits of combining digital and physical shopping within a hybrid store environment.
As illustrated in this guide, implementing hybrid shopping is easier than you might think. With smart data capture every task can be performed using one device anywhere in the store.
A successful hybrid store relies on high-performance scanning
In any hybrid store, high-performance scanning is essential to ensure a seamless experience.
A consumer’s or store associate’s smart device needs to scan each product barcode every time regardless of the conditions or lighting in the store.
- It must scan first time, every time
- It must scan across a variety of labels, especially if they are damaged, obscured, or in glare or shadow
- It must work with the widest variety of devices
A poor experience early on in the process may alienate the consumer and prevent them from returning.
It has the potential to save retailers time and money while boosting sales and placing physical stores at the center of the omnichannel experience.
By using the right digital technology, retailers can deliver new hybrid shopping experiences that will keep their customers coming back, their employees motivated and their business ahead of the competition.