Dissatisfied customers will always be an inevitable part of the retail industry. Poor customer service from businesses can result in the loss of a sale or deter brand loyalty. As customer experience is at the forefront of all retailers minds, many have adopted various strategies that will enable them to increase support for customers and improve their overall experience.

Social media has played a significant role, with various retailers dedicating their accounts purely to answering customer questions, requests and helping with complaints. However, there are ways that retailers can address the customer experience in physical stores to help minimise the influx of unhappy Tweets after they have left their store.

Research has shown that customers who engage with retailers across multiple channels and touchpoints are driving increased conversion rates, both online and offline, as they have more than one channel to aid in their purchasing decisions. For retailers, this is very beneficial as it ensures that the customer is loyal to the brand. Having knowledge of a customer’s online purchasing habits and what they have been viewing also empowers a retailer’s staff to upsell higher value products, while enabling additional cross-selling opportunities.

Implementing innovative technology

With retail technologies developing at an unprecedented rate and with more engagement than ever, it is clear that retailers need to look for innovative ways in which they can enhance their omnichannel strategy.

Implementing tools that enable global inventory management, insights and analytics and in-store tooling can lead to greater customer satisfaction levels through a seamless, connected ecommerce journey. This will enable a retailer’s daily operations to be streamlined, maximising overall efficiency and making the customer journey as simple as possible.

In addition, the implementation of a single-platform returns solution, which makes it easy for customers to return products, regardless of what medium they were purchased through, can lead to a reduction in lost sales opportunities.

Having a greater view of inventory

Having a complete, unified view of the inventory available online, in-store and at distribution centres allows retailers to inform customers on what products are available and where they can be purchased from. Offering this in real-time allows retailers to personalise their offering for customers; identifying the nearest piece of stock or online inventory allows the retailers to fulfil the increasingly instantaneous nature of consumer buying habits.

This helps to shorten the time the customer has to spend on obtaining their products, providing greater convenience and ultimately, a superior experience.

Personalise to offer an enhanced customer experience

There are many benefits to selling online compared to in-store retailing. With online sales, purchasing is only a few clicks away; customers can buy when and where they want.

However, as online shopping platforms can be more challenging when offering a personalised experience, it is essential for retailers to provide a simple, easy-to-use solution that will encourage the completion of transactions.

For example, this level of personalisation must include the offering of additional products, similar to items already in the shopping cart. Unlike in a physical store, where the customer has a clearer idea of what they require and full control over purchasing decisions, suggesting additional items online – before hitting the ‘buy’ button – will further engage the customer and encourage increased spend. This can include products of which the customer may not be aware of, as they may not be available in all stores.

Another example is offering relevant online and in-store inventory to customers, based on their location. Providing a real-time view of product availability – not only at their preferred store, but at different locations – will meet the customer’s requirement to have that product as soon as possible. Retailers that try to facilitate this through personalisation will ultimately increase brand loyalty amongst consumers.

Optimising in-store mobile tooling

From a retailer’s perspective, in-store tooling on mobile devices will continue to streamline on-demand inventory management. Having a unified, real-time view of inventory will allow its staff to offer increased flexibility and mobility for customers, especially for those who are starting the purchasing journey in-store.

However, these technologies should serve only as a enabler; retailers still need to be significantly investing in training customer-facing staff to easily use the technology, as it’s these employees which will ensure the customer’s experience is as good as it can be.

Customers expect retailers to be ahead of the latest retail trends; empowering and engaging staff to adapt will ensure they keep pace with the changing retail landscape, ultimately improving the customer experience.

This must sit alongside a broader, customer-focused mobile implementation strategy, with retailers offering customers the chance to utilise mobile at every stage of the purchasing process, to make a more informed decision. Retailers must also be utilising insights from online customer behaviour to provide a completely personalised experience, should they complete the transaction in-store.

Utilising both online and physical stores

Today, a successful customer shopping experience isn’t just about obtaining the right products but how they are obtained. This level of flexibility will undoubtedly lead to an enhanced experience as convenience highly influences a customer’s reason to shop with particular retailers.

To do this, retailers need to utilise their existing distribution networks in both their physical and online stores. Any multichannel retailer that has access to physical store locations are able to outperform anyone with less stores than them. There are many ways that retailers can bring their distribution networks to life and partnered with a number of flexible solutions, this can help retailers to develop different omnichannel operations and manage inventory management.

With customer demands and expectations increasing, omnichannel selling is now an essential part of a retailer’s toolkit. Although some merchants have dedicated resources to help multichannel selling, new and innovative tailored solutions can now enable businesses to compete with their rivals. By carefully considering and implementing these solutions, retailers can reach a wider range of consumers, becoming omnichannel pioneers.

Graham Jackson

Graham Jackson

Contributor


Graham Jackson, Founder & CEO of Fluent Commerce.