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What is a Hybrid Retail Store?

Aine Hendron
26 Jan 2022

Today's consumers have unlimited choice over where and how they shop. With rapid advances in mobile technology and the internet, consumers can purchase almost anything from any place at any time.

With so many options available to today's consumer, choosing a retailer is a difficult choice made even trickier by online retailers fighting for their attention. With both physical and virtual competition, businesses have been forced to adapt to a new model of working: hybrid retail.

Online shopping has more than doubled in popularity in the past 6 years alone [1]. Meanwhile, many businesses that were founded exclusively online, such as Missguided and Glossier, are opening physical brick and mortar locations.

A hybrid retailer takes the best of both worlds to give consumers the full package.

What is a hybrid retailer?

A hybrid retailer, or a hybrid store, is a retail establishment that mixes traditional physical retailing with e-commerce. It's an innovative new concept in the industry, designed to offer customers a wide range of convenience at their fingertips.

It takes personal shopping habits into consideration. For example, people who shop for clothes online might still want the sensory experience of feeling the fabric and trying things on for size. If you own an online clothing brand, you can't replicate this experience online before a consumer places an order. To adapt to a hybrid shopping model, you could allow customers to buy items in more than one size and offer free returns and refunds.

Using a hybrid model, brands can offer customers a fully-rounded shopping experience. By tailoring for individual needs and addressing pain points, businesses can form a closer connection with their customers.

How to implement a hybrid retail strategy

Your hybrid retail strategy will depend on the type of store you own. Here are some ways you can make your store more accessible to every type of customer, whether you're online-only, or a brick and mortar trader.

Offer physical and online shopping options

Growth potential is enormous by offering both online and in-store shopping. An ecommerce store should be viewed as an extension of your marketing efforts - if you are already promoting your business online, you're simply adding a direct call to action that lets customers make an immediate purchase. 

For online retailers, opening a pop-up store or running a stand in a local market will allow customers to participate in a more immersive shopping experience. Customers can discuss products with staff, try things on, and interact with other customers.

Focus on customer experience

It's a competitive market, so retailers must take steps to make sure the retail experience customers receive when engaging with their brand is personalised, memorable, and will leave them feeling taken care of.

Hybrid retailers must have a comprehensive customer service strategy that prioritises the customer journey. A hybrid retailer works hard to build a loyal customer base with incentives, loyalty programmes, and unique brand experiences. This makes customers feel valued and gives them the incentive to return time after time.

The fight for customers' attention is at an all-time high, which is why retailers need to think outside the box to promote a unique brand experience. For example, an ecommerce fashion brand could offer in-store styling sessions and workshops that teach customers how to best style and wear their clothes, while upselling specific garments and accessories.

Eliminate friction and pain-points

To generate more sales, you'll need to figure out what leads potential customers to abandon their purchase. There are a few ways you can access this info:

  • Google Analytics for your website
  • Asking directly for consumer feedback
  • Sending follow-up customer service surveys

Using online analytics tools, you can view at exactly which point customers decide to drop off your website. If there are multiple customers abandoning their cart just before checkout, it might be that shipping fees are too high or that their preferred payment method isn't available. If customers leave after viewing a few products, you might be missing sufficient product or sizing information, or that pricing isn't suitable for their budget. You'll want your website to be as easy to navigate as possible, with categories and intuitive features like instant search.

In a physical store, navigation is just as important. Customers should have a clearly guided journey: enter > browse > try it on > pay. Offering in-store collection for items purchased online is another example of how you can turn your store "phygital", or hybrid. Physical collection for online orders is something 50% of customers expect [2].

Hybrid Customer Experience Example: Birchbox

Let's look at Birchbox as a case study. Birchbox sells monthly subscription boxes of beauty products and cosmetics online. Their product lines include makeup, tanning products, skincare, perfumes and beauty tools - some boxes are pre-made, others are customisable.

In 2014, four years after launching their online-only business, Birchbox opened their first brick-and-mortar shop in Soho, New York. They chose this location because consumer data revealed that shoppers in New York had three times the lifetime value of a normal customer[3]. In an attempt to cater to their most loyal customers, they wanted to offer a special, in-person experience.

In-store, customers are able to browse the store, and pick-and-mix their own personalised Birchbox. While Birchbox already offers customisable boxes online, building your box in-person offers a much richer sensory experience. Customers can see, feel and smell the products they buy. They can ask the Birchbox representatives for advice and receive immediate answers.

The physical Birchbox store decor parallels their online branding. This led to a more fluid transition from online to physical - a perfect hybrid experience.

Automate your business with a powerful EPOS system

Epos Now offers state-of-the-art EPOS systems for businesses in retail and hospitality. We let you choose the tools and insights to help your business achieve its goals. Designed to work as a complete business management system, you can control all vital aspects of your company from one cloud-based system.

Receive detailed analysis on the areas that matter to your business:

  • Review profitability reports based on individual product performance, trending items, best and worst sellers, and employee sales
  • Sync your online and physical sales data for better omnichannel, multi-location management
  • View sales analyses on profit margin, cash flow, and other expenses
  • Access multi-award-winning inventory management systems that sync online sales and in-person sales for the most up-to-date stock levels
  • Customer management systems that save customer contact details and shopping preferences for more targeted marketing.
  • Schedule emails and SMS messages to be sent at the most impactful time of day
  • Integrate with the business automation apps that are right for your business

If you’d like to learn more about our industry-leading software, request a free callback with one of our experts.

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