What influences a customer’s shopping experience?
Retailers are only too aware of how much shopping habits have changed and continue to morph. Digital media and digital channels are of course a huge factor: $1.26 trillion of local retail sales were affected in some way by digital media in 2016.
If that does not surprise you, perhaps this will: did you know that 80-90 percent of smartphone owners use their phones while in a physical store? Or that when using smartphones, shoppers increasingly head to a store’s mobile website rather than the app? The latest indicators suggest app fatigue is setting in for shoppers when faced with downloading retail apps they will rarely use.
Digital is disrupting the traditional customer experience and retailers are responding by embracing digital channels. “Omnichannel” is the aim, but the results are not guaranteed. Putting digital channels to work can be a struggle. A recent PwC report, Total Retail 2017, cited a number of challenges standing in the way of retailers rolling out an omnichannel experience for customers, including budget constraints (30%), too many legacy systems (21%), difficulty in integrating existing systems (20%), not a leadership priority (13%), lack of expertise (10%) and lack of internal resources (6%). These factors all add up to a big lost opportunity. Retailers whose digital initiatives are not delivering value are slower to market with new digital services and offerings and missing out on customer engagement opportunities.
Many retailers are also failing to extract maximum insight from customer data. The value of omnichannel sales and marketing is limited if retailers are not able to assemble “one view” of the customer.
The omnichannel experience IS attainable, however, and our customers can vouch for it. We’ve helped a leading apparel and home furnishings brand automate and streamline its omnichannel testing, automate its CI/CD process, reduce cycle times by 75% and deliver to market in four months. We’ve worked on a digital strategy and QA for a leading cosmetics retailer, helping it tap new sources of revenue online, engage customers in a loyalty scheme across multiple markets, and set up a mobile e-commerce site as well as a mobile app. We’ve helped leverage IoT wearable payment capabilities to enhance consumer engagement, extending a mobile platform offering to new segments and enabling our client to expand its business.
These are just a few examples of how retailers can pump their digital muscles! Here are a few more. Take a look at our top five winning tactics for retailers who want their digital channels to work harder for them.
1. Chatbots and Voice Interfaces have gained popularity as a customer services tool. They’re now seen as an extension of the brand and a valuable sales channel. Retailers are getting creative about how they deploy this valuable direct “voice” to customers.
2. By 2020, Gartner predicts 100 million will be shopping in augmented reality. VR and AR technologies have the potential to create new, fundamentally different shopping experiences and enhance customer loyalty.
3. Retailers should increasingly focus on mobile web and responsive web design (RWD) to tailor content and layout according to the device the customer is using. As RWD capabilities become more sophisticated, so does the extent to which content can be tailored to the user, taking into account location, shopping history etc.
4. Artificial intelligence is everywhere. This technology is so hot and it’s easy to see why. AI and machine learning in the form of predictive analytics is being deployed to parse valuable customer data for insights, but can also be used to streamline the operational efficiency. The result? Better efficiencies, better click-to-buy rates, increased sales.
5. Time-to-market is a make or break issue for retailers. Using the latest Shift Left and DevOps techniques, retailers can put digital to work to make operational improvements. Deploying Agile methodologies for mobile development and testing and automated e-Commerce testing, retailers can speed time to market and improve product quality. In other words, they gain the competitive edge.
Fast-tracking your digital plans can have a material impact on retailers’ ability to compete and thrive in the market today. Speed-to-market and product quality have always been critical, but the sheer pace of change in an omnichannel world requires dedicated, steady focus on digital. We have many more examples and strategies for putting digital to work and we would love to hear your digital challenges in retail. Get in touch today.