Some interesting data to consider while developing your retail experience strategy:
- In the next five years, businesses would be channelizing 45.9% of their energy in Customer Experience.
- 49% of customers have bought extra merchandise after receiving a personalized retail experience.
- It is observed that customers would not usually mind paying more after they receive a satisfactory retail experience.
- A good Customer Experience could lead to 4X business profit.
Retail is a competitive domain, and to stay ahead, companies must leverage technology while developing a comprehensive retail experience strategy.
COVID-19 has impacted various brick-and-mortar retail stores across the globe. While a predominantly offline customer experience served us well till the pandemic, a digital approach is catering to the customer needs in the short term. Some retailers are optimistic about the return to normalcy soon.
But it is imperative to note that this forced exposure to online buying would cause irreversible change in the offline buying pattern. Hence, the future of retail will be both offline and online – with the offline offering brand experience and the online providing ease of buying.
Keeping these changes in mind, we proposed some Retail Experience Strategies to “WOW” your customers. These strategies are categorized based on the commercial availability of the solutions and the degree of technology adoption by the retail industry.
Necessary Retail Experience Strategies:
These are the retail experience strategies that the industry has not yet adopted though they are commercially available. A retailer implementing these solutions would gain a strategic competitive advantage that can be used to consolidate its market position.
Strategy 1: Go Omni-Channel:
According to Harvard Business Review, 73 % of the customers use multiple channels before completing their purchase journey. With the increase in touchpoints, it is a must-have for seamless integration between those touchpoints.
Many of the businesses have invested in what we call a multi-channel experience. They have a website, blog, and relevant social media handles to connect with the customers.
Omni-channel retailing is a multi-channel sales approach that provides seamless customer experience whether the client is shopping online from a mobile device, a desktop, or interacting with a brand in a brick-and-mortar store.
Benefits to the Retailers:
Better Data - Better Business Decisions:
Omnichannel helps you synergize all the communications channels and tracks each of their performances through a single dashboard. That would assist you with better business decision-making.
Improvement in Revenue/Customer:
A study by Harvard Business Review on 46,000 shoppers points that omnichannel customers spend more money than single-channel customers.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Improvement in Customer Loyalty:
The same Harvard Business Review study suggests an increase of 23% in repeat shopping trips to the retailer's shops within six months of the omnichannel shopping experience.
Implementing an omnichannel solution helps retail brands to move to phygitalization that provides even more benefits.
Strategy 2: Phygitalization:
While omnichannel tries to integrate the customer experience across online and offline worlds, Phygital customer experiences seek to erase any gap between the two.
While purchasing products, 85% of customers believe eCommerce could not replace product touch and feel experience factors while buying. Still, 80% of retailers hesitate to merge offline and online world.
Retailers must switch to Phygital Experience as it helps with faster customer conversions. It improves the customer experience in many ways including:
- Customers would be allowed to choose products in-store and buy them via digital wallet instead of traditional checkout making the customer journey much smoother and faster.
- Customers can scan the products on a machine, and the retail database will be automatically updated. The database would be updated in real-time, and the bought items, added items, and thus inventory and finances would be kept in check.
- If budget permits, then allocate a couple of touch screen kiosks at the store for customers to interact with or tablets to your floor staff. A well-designed chatbot can:
- Help the customer in getting the desired information
- Assist with placing orders faster etc.
Benefits to the Retail Brand:
For a company operating as a pure-play digital player
For a company operating as a pure-play offline player
Decrease in the costs of order returns and mismatched expectations
Increased brand awareness
Increased billing due to impulsive buying
Revenue synergies that arise from better inventory management thanks to captured customer preference data
Strategy 3: Usage of Predictive Analytics and Artificial Intelligence:
By the end of 2021, the global expenditure for AI would be around $35.8 billion, which is 44% higher than in 2018. It is seen that nearly 26% of AI is used for customer interactions and remaining for other critical internal things.
Some of the AI use cases in the Retail Industry are:
In Supply Chain Management, AI is used for effectively managing logistical operations like predicting and tracking out-of-stock, overstocks, defect detection, scheduling, planning, and much more.
Know how improving the accuracy of Demand Prediction has helped a pharma e-commerce giant.
It can proactively predict the market conditions and help with pricing decisions.
Capturing Offline Customer Analytics:
Deployed at the checkout counters to monitor customer’s facial expressions. That helps the Retailers address the concern before customers leave the building.
Help Customers Buy Right Product:
Computer vision and image processing capabilities are also being used to decode pictures scanned by the customers for image-driven product search across the Retailer’s online catalog.
In our opinion, the most important outcome from the usage of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence is recommendations engine. This engine would deliver an excellent retail experience for the customers by proactively suggesting things that matter. It does so by analyzing customer's purchasing history, buying patterns, and browsing history with location data.
It shows products based on your buying history, search history, relevant and trending products catering to customer’s buying needs. It is reported that 35% of what consumers purchase on Amazon comes from a product recommendation engine.
The recommendation engine helps with filtering merchandise and assists retailers with shrinking their inventory to products that are the talk of the town.
Critical Retail Experience Strategies:
While the above retail experience strategies provide a brand competitive advantage, there are a few retail experience strategies whose absence warrants competitive disadvantage in today’s world:
Strategy 1: Retailtainment:
Retailtainment is a fusion of retail and entertainment and aims at keeping the customers entertained throughout their in-store purchasing journey. For example, snacking facilities, kid and pet-friendly environments, and fun game activities to improve customer engagement.
Genius Bar is an integral part of the Apple customer experience, where you can visit any retail store for any sales, product information, or any live tech help and support. The Bar welcomes you to a world of technology with hip, techno vibes but minimalist in design. Kids visiting with parents to these stores can spend time exploring various apple products in a dedicated section – this is an effective way to start your brand outreach from the young ages. Thus, the store has something for everyone who visits it.
Strategy 2: Loyalty Program:
The loyalty program is one of the first technology-driven retail experience strategies that was adopted by the industry. It helps you provide your customers a personalized solution by understanding their requirements. Implementing a relevant retail loyalty program allows customers to connect with the retailers on an emotional level and help in retaining existing customers and improving repeat-buying.
Let's look into Hertz's President's circle, it is the topmost elite status of the Hertz Gold Plus reward program. Here members get great benefits like:
- Excellent customer service
- Book a reservation-> Receive car details->drive away without any touchpoints
- Widest choice of cars including luxury vehicles.
- Guaranteed one-class upgrade
- Earning extra points and rewards
- Free additional driver
J.D.Power 2020 study on Customer satisfaction study revealed Hertz to be at the No: 1 position.
Strategy 3: Website and Mobile App:
It is a no-brainer that Gen Z and millennials heavily rely on mobile phones for almost every task. They use their mobile phone for most of the product comparisons before buying from any retail stores. Hence a retail store must have a mobile app and website where customers could pay, shop from anywhere they want.
If anything, mobile users are increasing each day, contributing to 7 billion mobile users across the globe by this year. Hence, mobile app for retailers has become more than just a must-have.
Strategy 4: Cloud Technologies:
Cloud has become the common word in any industry, and retail is no stranger! Gartner has predicted that by 2022 almost 90% of the organizations will use Cloud Technologies for their business. Cloud Technology is used in the Retail industry:
- To optimize IT infrastructure and associated costs.
- Ability to increase or decrease computing resources seamlessly - Elasticity
Strategy 5: Targeting Cart Abandonment:
To understand the rate and reason for cart abandonment, keep an eye on how customers interact with your retail website/app. You will get a picture by tracking their purchasing history/navigation behavior or by analyzing data. For example, you can see which page of your website the customers are dropping off or how long the customers are on your web page.
Cart abandonment alone contributes to a loss of $18 billion annually. Hence, get to know the reasons behind such behavior as soon as possible.
Strategy 6: CRM:
It allows you to manage customer's contact, purchasing history effectively. You can segregate customer’s details based on their purchasing frequencies or other relevant factors. By analyzing the purchasing history:
- You will get to know the products in demand.
- You can even send bulk/personalized SMS, Emails to the customers about your latest products, offers, or any new marketing information!
CRM has some of the best ROI rates. Research suggests that CRM returns $8.71 for every dollar spent.
Desirable Retail Experience Strategies:
While technology continues to change the business environment, some retail experience strategies are technically available. But their costs are high due to limited commercial availability. So, a retail brand must take a call on investing in these solutions depending on its business roadmap.
Strategy 1: Order Fulfilment Automation:
Amazon has successfully implemented order fulfillment automation for their warehouses. That allows fast order processing and shipment, which has changed the competitive landscape for other warehouses motivating them to invest in Autonomous mobile robots. A Forbes article states that by 2025 there would be nearly 580000 autonomous mobile robots deployed in warehouses.
Strategy 2: Virtual Reality & Augmentation:
Augmentation and Virtual Reality (VR) are some of the technologies that influence visual stimulus and gives anyone that fine visual retail experience.
They are heavily used in computer games, and now they have taken over the mainstream business by delivering a realistic visual experience of having/buying a business product.
Ikea's Place ARKit app allows its users to have 3D visualizations of furniture in their place. Customers scan the area where they want to put the furniture. Then they select the desired furniture, which will give them a 3D overview of the furniture at their place. It will not only help with the look and feel but also help with furniture fitment issues.
The introduction of Ikea’s Place ARKit app led to a spike in Ikea’s search rate (as per the Google Trends), and it also got featured on FastCompany.
Bonus Retail Experience Strategies:
These retail experience strategies consist of some budding technologies that are in the experimenting stage and have a long way to go (in terms of their maturity). Including these will help brands in future-proofing their business.
Strategy 1: Voice Commerce:
Voice Commerce is a vast field to be explored and holds massive potential as with the increasing penetration of smart devices, IoT devices, and advancements in NLP & AI. Already Walmart's voice ordering system is helping customers add products to their cart through a voice command.
As we see these cool technologies being adopted, things like security and regulatory concerns are also increasing. To solve those issues, companies and the government are in discussions to define a framework that can eliminate these concerns.
Strategy 2: Robotic Store Assistants:
These days almost everyone has taken their business online or are at least taking baby steps towards it. Few concerns for the brick-and-store retailers are:
- Igniting curiosity among the customers
- Freeing staff time
- Smoothening the sales journey
The robotic store assistant enhances customer's retail experiences by:
- Greeting customers
- Guiding customers on their specific needs
- Directing or delivering products to the customers in the store
Lowe - Home improvement retailer deployed LoweBot, a robot in their stores in 2016, to help in-store customers with their shopping queries. It turned to be very helpful for floor staff.
Technology has its charisma, but it is nothing if businesses are not investing their effort into enhancing their face-to-face customer interaction.
A champion Retail Experience strategy would include a perfect fusion of the in-store and digital world. A well defined in-store customer experience/journey, relevant technology/digital user journey, and retail experience strategies could bless retail businesses with predictable profits and loyal customers.
Qentelli can do wonders in simplifying and implementing a near-perfect digital retail landscape for you. Our people take pride in enabling organizations on the true path towards Innovation.