Royal Sporting House CEO on the simple solution to bridging the online-offline gap

While eCommerce has taken over our daily habits, in-store experiences are still a crucial touchpoint to build engagement with consumers.

But many retailers are still struggling to connect their brick-and-mortar stores to their online offerings. And with new technology emerging at breakneck speed, the process can be daunting for many mom-and-pop stores. But the solution to bridging this gap between online and offline, said David Westhead (pictured right), APAC CEO of Royal Sporting House, could be as simple as having WiFi in-store .

Speaking at Innovfest Unbound 2019, Westhead said having WiFi also helps increase time spent in stores, while aiding data collection. “Once you have WiFi in store, it allows customers to sign up for it and leave details behind such as email address personal particulars,” Westhead said. He added that brands can capture customer information and potentially use the data to better analyse customer behaviour. The WiFi can also be used as a mean to communicate messages and store promotions.

According to a global study by Oracle done in 2017 on 15,000 respondents, 42% of shoppers expressed interest in having an overall omnichannel experience, and more than half demanded in-store WiFi.

While there is a shift in consumer buying habits with more consumers purchasing online, Westhead said stores are and will remain important. Where offline retailers have to up their game is in digitally enabling physical stores.

At Royal Sporting House, the teams arm themselves with smart devices at physical store fronts and ask customers to register as members. The brand also offers a one-time discount or birthday incentives to push membership registrations. According to Westhead, this could in turn lead to higher purchase conversation rates.

But if the offer is still not enough to entice customers to spend, the sign-up still helps in data collection. “If your purchasing conversation rate is for example, 15% and 85% are walking out of the store, the least you could do is collect their data,” he said.

Meanwhile, having the data also helps in humanising the store-front experience, which can ultimately surprise and delight consumers. According to a PwC study done in 2018, approximately 74% prefer human interaction and want more of it in the future – even as technology improves and automation becomes more prevalent. While consumers might choose to engage with apps, self-service checkouts and websites during the purchase, they will still, at the end of the day seek out human interaction should the purchase process go wrong. Westhead added:

Ultimately, retailers have to put forth consumers’ needs and wants and know that digital technology is needed to enhance overall customer experience.