Ecommerce has truly given the term ‘window shopping’ a new perspective. Today, one can quite literally shop in different stores on different windows of their internet browser! The phenomenon has gained significant prominence as the experience is largely non-intrusive and convenient
That said, as sentient beings we like to see, touch, feel, and experience things in our lives. The same sentiment applies to customer shopping experiences as well. Technology is meant to be an enhancer and not always a terminator of existing business models. For most customers the level of personal engagement is what truly creates a memorable experience. After all, wouldn’t you like to engage in a conversation rather than listen to an IVR? People remember who they interact with way more vividly than a webpage or an app they were on.
While the retail store model has been under increasing competition from e-commerce leveraging on mobile technologies, it can use the same technologies to regain the losing share and stay ahead. Use of the following innovative ways can provide an unparalleled experience to customers:
Enhanced Customer Engagement
Retail stores can provide apps to their customers to update them on product availability, introduce them to loyalty programs, inform them about promotions and other relevant information to attract them to stores. With increasing adoption of augmented reality, customers can soon use apps to scan over a product with a phone camera to get information like reviews, price, specifications, competing products, customer reviews, etc. In the near future, they could even have virtual reality fitting rooms that allow customers to try on clothes/accessories, see variations of colour/fit, and compare similar articles from other brands to make a choice.
Improved Store Operations
Retail stores can empower staff with mobile technologies to transform them into a one stop solution for the customer. Employees can use mobile apps to provide precise and relevant information that a customer needs. Apps can help users locate an item and check for its availability. Another pain point that mobile technology solves is one of the biggest bottlenecks in the retail industry; billing. When done on a mobile device, a store saves time and improves operational efficiency. Customers are also delighted as they don’t have to wait in line.
Better Customer Insights
Listening to customers plays a critical role in understanding what needs to be addressed. It is only from feedback that one can improve existing systems and processes to ensure better customer experience in the future. Feedback apps deployed in a store can significantly reduce the time spent in collecting and analyzing feedback. That helps businesses gain valuable insights regarding the overall shopping experience. It could be on the ambiance, staff, product range, service, or just about anything that they feel needs improvement.
The end result is optimal staffing and optimal levels of personal interaction that equates to an optimised experience for the customer and better control over store expenses.
Dieter Rams, a world renowned German industrial designer who served as the head of design at Braun for nearly four decades suggests that design should be useful, understandable, honest, and unobtrusive among other traits. It is only then a product creates a user experience that leaves a lasting impression. Apple follows these rules down to a ‘T’ and we all know what Apple’s design has given the world. Retail stores can apply these principles to create experiences that are thoughtful, considerate, and exceeds customer expectations. Mobile technology is here to stay and to be ahead of the competition, only a well thought of and considerate amalgamation of mobile technology and employee effort will succeed in creating a customer experience that puts a lasting smile and make them return to stores