Are you winning the customer experience stakes? Retailers told: ‘be exciting or face the consequences!’

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Are you winning the customer experience stakes? Retailers told: ‘be exciting or face the consequences!’

It has quickly become a retail sector mantra — bricks-and-mortar retail isn’t dead, boring retail is dead. Such is the consumer demand for increasingly friction-free and information-rich customer experiences that retailers who answer the call for excitement and innovation are flourishing while resistors are falling by the wayside.

Our latest consumer research, involving 2,000 shoppers, shows how real this demand for experiential retail is:

  • 70% of consumers told us they would shop elsewhere if a retailer failed to deliver an exciting environment
  • 73% would spend more in stores offering experiences, not just product
  • 66% of shoppers want stores to be inspiring.

Retailers winning the customer experience stakes in 2019 deliver a heady mix of customer-pleasing capabilities, ultimately designed to make shopping an entertaining and pain-free experience for the consumer. This demand for experiential retail is changing the face of the sector, demanding that retailers evolve rapidly of face the consequences.

Personalisation is a key battleground across the full spectrum of retail in 2019. Many retailers claim to offer personalisation, but few are actually delivering on customer expectations. In fact, our research shows that almost half (48%) of shoppers say ‘personalised’ recommendations offered to them are not relevant. Nevertheless, customers are of weary of being treated like strangers in store, they’ve sampled the kind of individualised service offered by online disruptors and they see no reason why physical stores shouldn’t offer the same.

It’s time to get personal

Clienteling, however, offers a robust solution, making it possible for in-store staff to gain a single view of customer in real time so that they can make highly relevant recommendations in real time based on data that includes past purchases, average order value, likes/dislikes, online browsing habits and demographics. All this can be achieved on the shop floor while speaking to a customer thanks to networked devices linked to a CRM system via the cloud.

The ultimate aim of clienteling is to find the right product or service at the right price point and ensure the customer feels positive about their purchase long after they leave the premises. The benefits for the retailer include higher conversion rates, a higher rate of repeat business, increased customer advocacy and great opportunities to upsell and cross sell highly relevant products and services.

A real-time view of inventory can also show store staff if an item is in stock on the premises, or if it is available at another store or distribution hub. The customer can then be given options of how and when they can complete their purchase – for example buy instore, take away or order and have it delivered.

UK bed retailer Dreams is among the companies harnessing the power of clienteling. It’s Dreams 360 solution brings together the siloed offline and online customer journeys into a single unified journey. This enables Dreams’ sales teams to drive enhanced interactions with its customers, while delivering shoppers more seamless omnichannel experiences. Luxury fashion brand Burberry has also rolled out a global clienteling tool aimed at driving data-rich customer interactions.

Removing the pain from payment

Frictionless payment is another major selling point for modern shoppers. They’ve experienced the simplicity of ‘one-click’ payment online and the instore checkout process has been shown to be huge hassle.

Mobile Epos is already becoming increasingly popular in-store, but UK grocer The Co-op is among retailers going one step further by trialling a payment app that enables shoppers to simply scan purchases on their smartphone and pay digitally, side-stepping the conventional checkout process entirely.

The Co-op developed its app after it notices cash transactions in its stores had dropped by a fifth in just five years, with a 15% in the last 18 months alone. Sainsbury’s, M&S and Tesco are also developing similar in-aisle payment solutions.

Know your customer in-store

Customer recognition, at scale and in-store, has long been a seemingly impossible goal. Store associates have enough to do already, without having to memorise customers’ names and faces.

Now, however, smart retailers are using beacon technology to identify when specific customers are in a store. Beacons are tiny, low-energy devices that use Bluetooth technology to send out personalised content to consumers’ mobile devices while they’re in or near a premise. Push notifications or text messages can be sent to customers phones as they walk through specific departments of a store, for example.

They can also be sent as a customer arrives or leaves a premise, or if they simply walk past without entering. When linked to digital displays and interactive mirrors, beacons can trigger content designed to inform and educate the customer, increasing in-store conversion rates.

Technology isn’t the sole answer to the challenges facing retail, but when store staff are given the right technological support they have a far better chance to deliver the kinds of in-store experiences modern customers demand.

For more information about the challenges facing the retail sector download our new report: One Vision: how to re-energise retail in 2019 and beyond.

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