Imagine heading into a store, choosing what you want and completing the purchase, but then walking out empty-handed. Paying via your personal device, your goods get delivered to your door later, when it suits you.
Or consider walking past a store and receiving a text notification to say a product you’ve been looking at online is on sale.
These are just a couple of examples of future trends in retailing, says Michelle Anderson of The Warehouse Group, and they’re all on her radar in her newly appointed role as Chief Digital Officer.
“In the future, we might see stores that only carry display stock, to deliver the physical touch and feel experience that consumers want, but with the convenience of online delivery. This also allows sales assistants to spend less time stocking and tidying shelves, and more time helping customers find what they need.”
Michelle Anderson says customers of The Warehouse can already shop like this if they want to. “We have this capability now at The Warehouse via our app. Using the app barcode scanner, you can select any item in store and add it to your online shopping cart. This also allows you to take advantage of any online deals that might not be available in store.”
Another innovation that The Warehouse has recently embraced is shoppable Instagram. “Once upon a time if you saw something you liked on Instagram you had to do a bit of online sleuthing to find the exact product. Now, our customers can tap an image and seamlessly click through to the relevant page on our online store.”
Michelle says The Warehouse has been looking closely at its online shopping experience. “We’re constantly looking at how we can tweak and improve things for customers. For example, we’ve been trialling things like two-hour delivery, click and collect lockers, and Shipmate, a partnership with New Zealand Post where you get unlimited deliveries for a flat fee.
“We’ve been looking at the whole journey from a customer’s initial user experience on the site right through to packaging and delivery.”
Right now, the biggest users of The Warehouse online shopping are women aged 25 – 44, and the most popular items sold online are canned goods, nappies and wipes, reflecting the convenience element, says Michelle. “But our online shopping customer base is growing all the time, and we find that once people discover how good the experience is, they keep coming back.”
Emerging digital retailing trends such as product holograms and virtual reality shopping experiences are also intriguing, she says. While customers can’t expect to walk into their local The Warehouse and see a hologram just yet, that experience might only be a few short years away.