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How to digitalise and elevate the in-store customer experience

  • Posted on August 3, 2016

Customer experience

As customers’ retail experience becomes less physical and increasingly virtual, how should you as a retailer with a bricks-and-mortar store, an ecommerce site, social media presence and a mobile app respond and differentiate?

Customers buying online have access to a rich set of information – price comparisons, reviews, blogs, videos, etc. All that vanishes the moment they enter a store unless they decide to take their phone out and start browsing. What if you could seamlessly bring the richness of an online/mobile experience in-store while retaining the unique aspects of an in-store purchase such as the personal touch, the convenience and the ability to touch/feel the product?

Let’s look at three ways in which you can elevate the in-store customer experience:

1) Embed Analytics in Your Business Process

Retailers are really a data factory that happen to sell products. A wealth of information is captured online, in-store, at the point of sale (POS), and so on. Unfortunately, most of this remains untapped or is available too late to influence any action.

While gut instincts are helpful, the really successful retailers are democratising data by putting it in the hands of frontline staff so they can take the right decisions at the POS e.g. real-time promotions for VIP customers or sensible cross-sell and upsell options based on buying behaviour.

By making analytics part of their DNA, retailers can ensure that the in-store experience isn’t a compromise, but something to look forward to.

2) Leverage In-store Locators and Virtual Assistants

Many a sale is lost as customers struggle to find things amongst the aisles or can’t be bothered to look for a store associate unless it is urgent or important. With an increased focus on staff productivity, retailers are having to make the difficult decision to reduce the number of staff in-stores, which often compounds this issue.

Technology can be leveraged to address this conundrum by having in-store kiosks to help customers easily locate items on their shopping list. Putting this functionality into smartphones through virtual navigators, puts the power in the customer’s hands – literally.

Accenture’s 2016 Retail Consumer Research Report revealed that 30% of customers in UK are looking for shopping lists and item locators. Interestingly, only 8% of retailers surveyed had shopping list apps and none had virtual smartphone navigators.

3) Making Digital Displays More Intelligent

Beyond just having a carousel of advertisements, digital displays can be made more intelligent and context-relevant to display reviews or market prices. Avanade helped a leading luxury brand deliver customised promotions by recognising the profile of customers standing in front of their digital display, e.g. based on gender, age range, individual vs. family, etc.

For Coop Italia, Avanade took the concept one step further by creating the ‘Supermarket of the Future’ where customers could “interact” with products and gain insights into the origin, allergens, carbon footprint, etc. simply by pointing to the product. This helped Coop redefine the grocery shopping experience and make it truly interactive.

Today’s customers are no longer willing to settle for a sub-optimal experience on one channel. Retailers need to find a way to deliver a seamless experience across all channels. With stores still driving the bulk of sales for a number of retailers, a good place for businesses in the industry to start, is researching and implementing a plan to digitalise and elevate the in-store customer experience.

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