Five ways to improve the retail customer journey online and in store
The Digital High Street 2020 Report calculates that more than £150bn of retail sales are now influenced by digital.
The report further suggests that retailers whose services don’t meet customers’ expectations could lose more than £12bn a year.
The Digital High Street Advisory Board announced in March 2015 a five-year strategy that sets out ambitions to connect town centres to mobile, broadband and wi-fi, while also improving digital skills, by 2020.
But internet connectivity and technology are only part of the picture.
The real power of digital is about mindset. About being more customer-centric. If you want convincing that a retail business needs digital transformation, then look at your customers’ behaviour.
In our brand new ClickZ Intelligence Report, The Future of Customer Journey, Martin Talks looks at how digital technology and neuroscience can be used to create more people-centric organisations, based on their own customers’ behaviour and that the journey is no longer a linear route.
The entire 45 page report is available to download by signing up to ClickZ Intelligence here. In the meantime however, let’s take a look at some of the implications of a digitally transformed retail industry, along with Martin’s recommendations.
Recognising that the customer is in control
Digital is inherent to the customer journey. It’s rare that at some point between research and purchase, part of the journey isn’t touched by connected technology.
This means that a customer can alter the direction of their journey with the touch of a button. They can’t be funnelled into a retailer’s preferred channels in quite the same way they were before.
Look at the rise of ‘showrooming’, where a customer enters a shop for research and perhaps to get some guidance from shop assistants, but then goes and buys the same product online.
How should retailers respond? By recognising that showrooming will happen as customers can do as they please and offering them a better service.
You can do this by price-matching, using staff members with connected tablets, price comparison kiosks or mobile apps with which customers can scan any product and check a competitors’ price.
Moving on from the 4 Ps to the 4 Cs
The 4 Ps has dominated marketing thinking for some time: price, product, promotion, and place. But this thinking is linked too much with seeing customers as targets that need to be promoted at.
You should instead think in terms of the 4Cs: creating, curating, connecting and culture.
Your customers should also be included in your digitally-aligned thinking, as should your suppliers and business partners.
‘Systems thinking’ is the process of understanding how every element influences one another within a complete entity, or larger system.
Systems thinking is needed to create and execute marketing in an integrated fashion, and for the organisation to deliver joined-up experiences.
This requires breaking down organisational silos that may for example prevent offline marketers knowing what online marketers are doing, or the in-store employees knowing what the ecommerce team are doing.
An example of joined-up thinking, is the ability not just to find a store on a mobile device, but to check stock availability from the mobile and locate the nearest store that has real-time stock availability.
Every journey is individual, so personalisation is essential. Understanding that a person may have transacted online should be recognized by an assistant in store.
This can be achieved in a number of ways. Facial recognition of customers based on the sort of technology used in airports for security scanning is possible. Indeed, around 30% of retailers use facial recognition technology to track customers in-store, according to research by software firm CSC.
Technologies that pair with smartphones are also being used. Macy’s deployed beacons in nearly 800 stores throughout the US in order to track customer movements within store to allow recommendations and discounts.
Offering a consistent brand experience across channels is crucial for developing trust. This needs to extend to the service experience too.
This could include a ‘reserve in store’ option, such as Argos offers, and a postcode lookup tool which checks stock levels in local stores.
Cross-channel discounts also reinforce a consistent experience. This includes the ability to make discount offers available online and mobile to be redeemed in store and in store offers to be redeemed online via such techniques as bar-codes or QR codes which are scanned.
For much more detail, download our brand new ClickZ Intelligence Report, The Future of Customer Journey.
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