Top 5 Ways ESLs Can Address Brick-and-Mortar Disconnect

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Top 5 Ways ESLs Can Address Brick-and-Mortar Disconnect

By Andrew Dark - 03/19/2015
As most retailers can attest, perceived inconsistencies between the online and offline worlds can lead to customer dissatisfaction and ultimately lost sales. Consumers believe it’s not possible to receive the same promotion or rebate in-store as online. They also believe that prices are always lower online and inventory is more accurately portrayed online than in a physical store. These perceptions are among the reasons that consumers are increasingly bypassing the physical store in favor of shopping online. Brick and mortar stores must find a way to create seamless channel experiences in order to maintain customers’ desire for consistent in-store experiences and real-time product information.
 
Enter the electronic shelf label (ESL) — a technology that is primed and ready to reinvent the U.S. store shelf edge in an age of multi-channel shopping. ESLs have the power to eliminate the following inconsistencies that consumers typically associate with brick and mortar stores.
 
Inconsistent Pricing
It makes sense that shoppers want the best price for a product, and according to our recent consumer survey, 42% of U.S. shoppers believe that online and offline stores offer different prices. As a consumer, the question becomes, “Why would I leave the comfort of my home to make a purchase, when I ‘think’ I can get a better price online?”
 
As ESLs become more commonplace, these inconsistencies can become more and more manageable. ESL technology allows in-store pricing to reflect online prices and to be as dynamic as online pricing — fulfilling consumers’ desire to get the best price while physically interacting with the product, as 75% of American consumers prefer to do.
 
Omnichannel Promotions
Retailers and consumers alike are addicted to promotions and offers. However, consumers are confused about whether specific offers are only available in the store or online, or both. According to our survey, 42% of U.S. shoppers don’t believe the offers they receive are available offline — the myth of omnichannel promotions.
 
Through the use of ESLs, consumers can rest easy, knowing they are indeed getting the same offers in both channels. Through integration with beacon technology, ESLs enable retailers to create personalized promotions for shoppers via loyalty apps, all while shopping in the store. ESLs can also offer interactive in-store promotions at the shelf edge through the use of QR codes.  
 
Product Availablity
Online shopping has made it so easy for consumers to find the exact merchandise they need, when they need it. When shopping online, consumers can easily access detailed product information as well as product availability. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said about brick and mortar stores. According to our survey, 52% of U.S. consumers find stock availability an issue compared to online shopping, citing it as a point of contention when shopping in the store.
 
ESLs address this disconnect by providing real-time stock availability right at the shelf edge. ESLs also have the capacity to display additional product information, so a shopper doesn’t have to wait for a sales associate, and ESLs can direct shoppers to an alternative product if an item is out of stock.
 
Product Knowledge
According to our research, 85% of U.S. consumers conduct some type of web-based research before visiting a store to make a purchase. What if this information, however, was available at the shelf edge? ESLs’ digital displays allow current product information to be shown in real time with opportunities to find more information with a QR code scan. Having this information at the tip of a consumer’s fingers in the store reduces the need for prior research and eliminates consumer frustration with underprepared staff.
 
What’s more, ESLs remove the need for retailers to replace paper labels in-store, freeing up store associates to spend more time advising and serving their valuable customers.
 
ESLs Bridge the Omnichannel World
The perceived inconsistencies between online and in-store shopping may present challenges to omnichannel retailing, but ESLs have the unique ability to make the reality of in-store shopping a compelling, vital part of the omnichannel experience. ESLs can serve as a vital bridge that connects the online and offline shopping experiences — giving consumers the best of both worlds and helping retailers increase the sale of products directly from the store shelf.

Andrew Dark is CEO of Displaydata.

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