Can in-store match online? How to impress 21st century customers

Article by Martyn Jones | 17th December 2020

Online shopping explodes in 2020

Of all the changes brought about by COVID-19, perhaps the biggest of all is a staggering increase in online shopping. Before the pandemic, eCommerce was already enjoying steady growth. UK online sales rose by 12.7% in 2019, making up just under 20% of the year’s total retail. Worldwide, the trend was similar, with eCommerce growing by 28% in 2017 and 23% in 2018. A lot of this was due to the rise of Amazon. The platform was home to almost 50% of US online sales in 2018, and its global market share in 2019 was around 14%

The COVID-19 outbreak accelerated this growth, with eCommerce experiencing 5 years’ worth of growth in a few months. UK consumers turned to the internet in their droves, adding £5.3 billion to the year’s eCommerce sales. At the peak of the pandemic, 32.8% of all UK retail sales were taking place online. These included thousands of new eCommerce customers, with 21% of UK consumers shopping online for the first time

Customers still love the high street

It’s tempting to see this as the beginning of the end for the high street, but things aren’t as bad as they seem. Upon closer inspection, customers are not abandoning bricks and mortar altogether. Instead, they are looking for ways to

combine eCommerce and physical shopping for maximum convenience. This is called omnichannel shopping, and it is the key to retaining business in the post-COVID world. 

Customers are increasingly mixing and matching their services. Some are buying online and picking up in-store (BOPIS) Others are buying in store but using online returns. With customers reluctant to spend too long in stores, Click & Collect has become the purchasing method of choice. Click & Collect sales grew by 28% in 2020, and 43% of consumers are more likely to use Click & Collect as a result of the pandemic.

The internet has raised the bar for customer service

Taking an omnichannel approach is a great way to embrace the future, but it does present some challenges. Customers have grown used to the convenience of online shopping, and have come to expect a frictionless experience. Amazon Prime has normalised fast home deliveries and free returns, and most other brands have followed suit. 83% of shoppers now say that convenience is a bigger priority than it was five years ago, and 86% of UK consumers say that convenience is the biggest factor in their shopping decisions.

The growth of eCommerce also has implications for customer service. Many eCommerce sites offer round the clock assistance via social media and live chat. This has led to a greater impatience amongst consumers. 82% of customers now expect an immediate response to their queries, and 90% say that response times are extremely important. 

This growing impatience is also visible at the checkout. With instant “buy it now” options on most websites, customers are unwilling to queue for long.  69% of UK shoppers have abandoned a purchase because the queue is too long. 

Technology is the key to matching online speeds

Matching internet speeds in store is not easy, but you don’t have to go it alone. Our technology is designed to bridge the gap between eCommerce and physical retail, giving your customers a seamless omnichannel experience. 

Call Points and Keypads

VoCoVo hardware is designed to be durable and lightweight. Our Keypads enable discrete colleague conversations, preventing any delays at the checkout. Customers expect instant responses to their queries, and our Call Points make this possible. Call Points can be placed on Click & Collect counters and self-service checkouts. 


26% of colleagues say that the biggest cause of inefficiency is looking for information. Our headsets solve this problem by providing an open channel of communication between colleagues. If a customer has a question about stock, you can contact the stock room directly. VoCoVo headsets can save an average of 105 minutes in task efficiency every day. In larger stores, they can reduce each colleague’s daily walking distance by 1.4km. This efficiency translates into faster customer service, allowing you to keep pace with the online experience. 

Customers no longer see the distinction between online and physical stores. By maximising in store efficiency, you can give your customers a seamless experience across all channels.

Talk to us today about improving productivity and connectedness in your stores.

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