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 while addressing an audience of 30,000 people, and none of them raised 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.
Running a retail business goes way beyond having a diverse range of products and stacking them up attractively. What matters the most is offering customers a wholesome shopping experience.
This blog will shed light on why retailers must improve their customer retail experience.
Even if you provide everything that a customer needs, a tiny flaw can ruin their experience. Not only that, they will walk away and tell others about it. Do you think such unhappy customers will ever come back?
When you understand the degree of convenience that a shopping cart provides, you will automatically realize what it takes to deliver a smooth retail experience.
Even e-commerce websites are also providing us with an e-shopping cart. Right? Why should retail stores be any different? Considering the convenience and variety that E-commerce stores provide, retail stores will have to work harder to attract customers.
Without an e-shopping cart, customers cannot visualize their purchases and remove unwanted items. Neither can they know about discounted products, whether discounts were applied correctly. Furthermore, they will be unable to shop further or add more items to their cart.
61% of customers leave and will not return if they have an unpleasant experience at a store. Worse still, according to Brendan, customer experience is not just about you versus your competitor: it’s about the 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 them from your account. Yet, when paying for your insurance bill, you still need to get it done through an agent manually.
Although the banking sector and insurance sector are not competitors, the experience from one industry can carry over and affect the other.
Choosing the Right Technology
In order to provide a better customer retail experience, you need to invest wisely in the right technology. Sephora has installed iPads at their store to enhance customers’ digital experience.
By integrating physical & digital elements at their store, customers now can “try on” makeup to see how they will look after putting it on.
In order to enhance the overall shopping experience, traditional cosmetic stores may hire makeup artists and help customers select the most suitable product. Is this approach practical?
No, it is pretty labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Imagine having to put on one shade of lipstick, remove it, then try another; this process could go on forever. With digital “makeup,” you can switch between different looks, compare and quickly decide on the one that suits you the best.
All of this happens without the customer even touching the lipstick. Everything happens at the touch of a button; customers can see the results on the screen.
Now, this brings to an important question. How do stores know which is the right technology for them? A digital makeup tool may suit Sephora, but it might not work for you.
It might not be feasible for all retailers to incorporate futuristic technology like artificial intelligence. On the other hand, others may find it very expensive. Nevertheless, they will still require some automation and data collection tools.
Setting up Promotions/Discounts
Let us take setting up shop promotions as an example. Retailers will find it laborious to set up discounts for each item manually. Also, the system has its limitations because it cannot set up flexible promotions for various items.
To set up your promotions more effectively, you need to research and find out which combination will attract your target customers. A flat 25% discount may not work all the time compared to offering freebies against the purchase of a particular product.
Something like: Buy this children’s coloring book and get a set of magic pens FREE may grab a few people’s attention. Then, there are chances of them purchasing the product. Imagine having ready-made templates at your disposal to help you accomplish such tasks.
Set up promotion/discount for a stipulated time like 24 hours, and prices will get back to normal when these promotions expire. These shortcuts can help save plenty of time and effort. Setting up and tracking such promotions without automation tools can be difficult.
Never underestimate the importance of setting up diverse promotions because a particular discount may appeal to a specific segment of people, but it may not interest others.
On the one hand, you offer a handsome discount, and on the other hand, you offer freebies. Both are beneficial from the customer’s point of view, but they register in their minds differently, leading to many outcomes.
Collecting customer data can help you understand customers better. Traditional retailers rely on superficial information such as name, birthday, email, and phone number to conduct marketing activities.
Despite collecting so much data, many retailers do not use it effectively. Retailers need to segregate and filter data while targeting potential customers effectively.
Data collection helps retailers kill two birds with one stone. In other words, data collection serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps retailers target potential customers. Secondly, customers get what they want in terms of products, features, promotions, discounts, etc.
Purchase history is another valuable tool that allows retailers to understand customer behavior. Accordingly, retailers can modify their business strategies and analyze their inventory to see if they have the right products to satisfy their customers.
If you nail it right and get the products that interest customers, they will remain loyal. Bear in mind that this is a continuous process because customer interests and market trends change frequently.
Thus, retailers should understand the industry, nature of their business, and specific goals before investing in technology. Spending thousands of dollars on software does not make sense if it is irrelevant to your business.
Assess your situation, conduct a SWOT analysis and invest in the right technology. Our next article will discuss key takeaways from Forrester’s research on investing in technology to enhance customer experience. Stay tuned!
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