How retailers can improve the customer journey online and in-store
According to The Digital High Street 2020 Report, more than £150bn of retail sales are now influenced by digital.
The same report also suggests that retailers whose services don’t meet customers’ expectations could lose more than £12bn a year. The figures are estimates of course, but the underlying lesson stands.
But internet connectivity and technology play a big part in the customer journey, but the real power of digital is about mindset and 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 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.
This 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.
Digital is key 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.
The implication of this is that a customer can alter their journey’s direction 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. The retailer needs to adapt to them.
Look at the rise of ‘showrooming’, where a customer enters a shop for research and sometimes guidance from shop assistants, but then goes and buys the 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.
There are various ways to respond and improve the service:
The 4 Ps has dominated marketing thinking for some time: price, product, promotion, and place.
However, 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.
This is the process of understanding how each element influences one another within a complete entity, or larger system.
Systems thinking is needed to create and execute marketing, and for the organisation to deliver joined-up experiences.
This requires breaking down silos within an organisation that could prevent, for example, 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 would be the ability for customers not just to find a store on a mobile device, but to check stock availability and reserve items.
Personalisation is essential, as every journey is individual. As retailers begin to join up systems more effectively, one goal should be for an in-store assistant to understand that a person may have transacted online. This provides an extra insight into the customer.
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 on the retail customer journey, download our brand new ClickZ Intelligence Report, The Future of Customer Journey.