Imagine walking into a grocery store. It has EVERYTHING you need – from daily necessities like shampoo, to fresh fruits and vegetables. But it just lacks one thing – the shopping cart.
Vice President of Forrester, Brendan Witcher, asks this question in front of 30,000 people and none of them raise their hand.
When you are in the retail business, it’s not just about the products you carry, it’s also about the experience that you provide to your customers. In this article, we will analyse why retailers are improving their customer retail experience.
Even if you provide everything that the customer needs, by lacking that one small element, it can impact the customers’ experience and they are walking away. By understanding how much convenience a shopping cart provides, you will then understand how important are the elements of a smooth customer experience.
Even e-commerce websites are also providing us an e-shopping cart, right?
Without the e-shopping cart, you’re unable to visualize what have you purchased, what are the items that you can remove if you don’t want, what are the discounted items or whether discounts were applied correctly, and the option of continuing shopping to add more items to your cart.
See, 61% of customers leave and won’t come back again if you gave them a bad experience. Worse still, according to Brendan, customer experience is not just about you versus your competitor: it’s about experience as a whole when it comes to the entire industry.
Let’s take an example: while paying for your credit card bills, the bank automatically deducts from your account. Yet when you are paying for your insurance bill, you still need to manually go through the process of getting it done through an agent.
Although the banking sector and insurance sector are not competitors, yet the experience from one field can carry over and affect the other field.
However, in order to provide a better customer retail experience, you need to be wise on what kind of technology to invest in. Retailers like Sephora has installed iPads in their store to enhance customers’ digital experience. By infusing physical + digital in their store, customers now can “try on” makeup to have an estimation of how they will look like if they bought this item.
Traditional cosmetics stores may just hire makeup artists to help customers select the most suitable product and enhance their overall shop experience by trying different makeup – yet this process is labour-intensive and time-consuming. Imagine having to put on one shade of lipstick, remove it, then try on another and the process goes on. With digital “makeup”, you can switch between different looks and compare and quickly decide on the one that suits you the best.
Now the real question is: how do you know which technology is the most appropriate to invest in? A digital makeup area may be suitable for Sephora, but it may not be applicable to your store at all.
Our standpoint is that, even though retail shops may not be able to afford elaborative technology such as Artificial Intelligence, they will at least need some form of automation and data collection. Take setting up shop promotions as an example, it is a tiring task for retailers to manually set up discounts for different items. Or worse, the system is limited that it can’t afford flexible promotions to be applied for different items.
To run your promotions more effectively, you need to set and decide what combination will attract your target customers more. Giving an overall discount of 25% may not be that attractive to your customers, as compared to selling a bundle deal of “buy this notebook and get this set of stationery for free”.
Imagine using readily available templates to help you manage such tasks and you’re ready to deploy your discounts and promotions within minutes. Prices will then be back to normal again automatically when such promotions expire e.g. 31st Dec 2018.
It saves a lot of time and hassle on the retailers’ side to achieve the most ideal result that they want. Don’t underestimate the power of setting various promotions, because 25% off on notebooks versus “buy notebook to get free stationery” are two different retail sales experience for your customers.
The experience of receiving free items and saving money are different, after all.
Next is data collection of your customers so that you can have a better understanding about them. Traditional retailers are just relying on superficial information such as name, birthday, email and phone number to do their marketing. Yet, with so much data collected, they are not utilizing it effectively by classifying their customers so that they can target them more accurately when it comes to providing them with what they want.
Purchase history is a useful tool for retailers to really understand their customer base and also compare it with the inventories that they are getting in. What really keeps customers coming back is when you can always “predict” what kind of products will interest your customers and bringing in new things for them.
Hence, retailers have to judge for themselves which stage of technology investment they are in. It’s not about spending lots of money to get the latest technology, but about assessing one’s own retail situation and invest in what’s suitable.
In our next article, we will be discussing about key takeaways from Forrester’s research on investing technology to enhance customer experience. Stay tuned!
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