In 2011, Harvard Business Review published a seminal piece on where retail was heading and the challenges it faces in an article titled “The Future of Shopping.” Since then, retailers have adopted an Omnichannel approach which provides customers with both brick and mortar and digital experiences. Evidence is that this approach is working, but only with good customer profiling.
Lucidworks provides simply better search with better results.
If retailers need more validation that brick and mortar is here to stay and that omnichannel is the panacea it is prescribed to be, look at Amazon — the poster child for online business — deciding it needed to take itself into meatspace, literally. And just what are they doing with Whole Foods? Turning it into an omnichannel marketplace to reach consumers with more than groceries.
Some clear things have come out of all of this and marketplace research. Not all consumers are going to shop in both places. Distance from the store plays a key factor. Encouraging customers who shop online only to come into the store increases profits. Encouraging customers who come into the store to shop online decreases profits.
The reasons are simple. In-store customers are more affected by retail practices, make more impulse buys, and are less likely to compare prices. Online customers demand free shipping and are generally going to shop from the retailer with the lowest price. So changing an in-store customer to an online customer makes them more price sensitive and less impulsive.
“We saw a 50-60% increase in conversions just from turning on Fusion” –Jacob Wagner, Director of IT – Content, Bluestem Brands
This is playing out in some interesting ways. Big Box stores with lots of floor space are closing, but on a selective basis. Meanwhile, the question for retailers has been how to move the stores closer to customers. So Amazon has created a completely automated store. The store is smaller than a typical Whole Foods, is entirely smartphone and camera driven and has only one floor employee to check IDs for booze. If you pull it off the shelf and put it in your grocery bag, you’re automatically charged. If you shoplift, you’re automatically charged.
While this is an interesting technical marvel, the real approach is likely to be more of a blend. A smaller more automated store that is closer to customers, but probably with real people who are just there to help customers rather than mind the registers.
The bottom line is that this is how you convert browsers into customers, whether they’re in the store or at home.
What does Omnichannel have to do with search?
Simply everything. Search has moved well beyond keywords and key phrases. Lucidworks has invested heavily in adding artificial intelligence to search. Modern search captures customer data and can automatically recognize which customers belong to which groups and even identify groups that a retailer didn’t even know was there.
While search is critical for an online retailer. This reaches beyond online retail. When retailers can gather customer data in-store and combine it with online data, this is the core of a data-driven omnichannel strategy. Moreover, as stores become more automated, they become more data-driven and at the same time generate more data. Customer intelligence combined with product, industry, marketing, demographics, and channel data is the core of what search is to retailers today and even more so in the future. The bottom line is that customer profiling is how you convert browsers into customers, whether they’re in the store or at home.
So why Lucidworks?
Other companies have search. Other companies have invested in AI. However, Lucidworks gives you better search results and is proven for reliability at scale. There are a lot of technical reasons for that, from the software clustering technology and its design to the type of indexing technology being used and the mathematical models in place. This all comes down to the right geeks with the right know-how and intimate experience with customers in the retail space.
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