In today’s competitive retail environment, success is more about the overall customer experience (CX), rather than simply who is most effective at catching customers’ attention.
Attracting the consumer into a bricks-and-mortar store is a great start but once they are in the shop, that’s where the real work begins. If the CX isn’t up to the standards consumers have grown to expect – thanks to the convenience and speed of online retailing – then not only may sales opportunities be missed, but customer loyalty in the long term could also be lost.
And with large retailers, such as Amazon, being able to work on minimal margins at a huge scale, high street retailers can no longer compete on price alone. Instead, they need to ensure that the experience they are providing their customers with is better than that of their competitors – in both physical stores and online outlets.
Many retailers have recognised the need to innovate to attract consumer attention and loyalty, and as a result, many are looking to invest in technology to help enhance the customer experience. But this needs to be implemented strategically, and those that plough money into innovations without objective reasoning will fail to impress.
The type of CX offered, and the technology needed to support this offering, has to be relevant to the particular store and its clientele. For instance, display systems can be used to highlight new products and where they are located in store. This kind of tailoring of technology to customer experience is what enhances shopper’s visits and encourages them to become loyal to the brand, maximising their buying life-cycle.
Shoppers need to be made to feel special and believe that their custom is valued. In the past, store staff could get away with not talking to customers, but today consumer engagement needs to be encouraged. For example, store staff should open conversations on whether the shopper is participating in a sporting activity, or if they are buying for leisure and then advise accordingly on which piece of kit best suits their needs. Store assistants armed with mobile devices allow them to take payment from anywhere within a store, and they are also provided with unlimited information at a touch of a screen – this can further help to enhance CX as queries can be answered instantly.
Technology also needs to be able to cope with busy periods – such as seasonal peaks and flash sales. If a brand doesn’t have the technology in place to manage this increased footfall, then customers can be left dissatisfied due to negative experiences. In fact, our research found that 41% of shoppers would reconsider a purchase if they were faced with a long queue.
By installing self-help kiosks in-store, brands can reduce queue times and the pressure on fixed terminals. And by utilising mobile POS systems, staff are empowered to deal with customers away from the till and avoid any bottlenecks which may put off other potential customers passing by.
Retailers need to remember that the transaction is often the final touch point for customers and if they leave on a sour note, this could negatively affect their brand loyalty. Although they may make the payment there and then, they may never set foot in the shop again, meaning retailers miss out on long-term customer value through missed sales.
Customer experience is the new competitive edge, meaning retailers must engage with their shoppers in-store and provide the same levels of personalisation as they do online. Without a shopper’s loyalty, brands will soon see a steady downward spiral of sales as consumers fail to return to the brand. Investment in technology can be a brands saviour, but these innovations must be installed objectively, to enhance the customer experience in-store ensuring that paying shoppers will visit again and again.