The shift to a more experiential environment is fast-becoming the norm in the retail sector. Although eCommerce has taken a lot of the focus away from the brick and mortar outlet, the physical retail business is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Even the biggest online seller in the world, Amazon, has recently made the transition to physical stores.
Improving customer experience is the key to ensuring the ongoing profitability of a retail store, and for those brands that do make the customer experience a priority, the future looks very bright indeed. If your retail outlet is suffering, here are the best ways to give your customer experience a boost.
Aim For Immersion
Although online shopping is the ultimate in convenience, there’s still something very appealing about the physical act of browsing in a store. Many people are content to spend much more time on their shopping and browsing than the clickability of Amazon suggests. Immersive retail is the next big step forward for retail brands, and that means:
- Making use of interactive displays: this allows your customers to engage more with products and personalize them before they buy. Fashion retailers, in particular, are making growing use of Smart Mirrors, which allow customers to try on items of clothing or make-up virtually. The chosen goods are then automatically added to a shopping cart that can be paid for at the Point of Sale (POS).
- The Internet of Things: it’s taking its time to establish a footing in retail, but the Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly becoming more integrated with the shopping experience. Shop owners can now add RFID tags to branded bags, which activate certain promotions as customers walk through a store. This type of smart bag may not be widely adopted yet, but it is set to become an integral component of the retail business.
Timesavers and Convenience
Online shopping is very convenient, but it lacks the satisfaction of shopping in a real-world space. However, the advantages of physically browsing a store can quickly become nullified if the service is slow and the customers spend too long waiting to pay. That’s where using the right technology comes in.
Now, there are a variety of options to consider in terms of accepting customer payments. There are a number of hardware and software POS systems and options to consider that will ensure your customers can pay quickly and in the ways that they prefer. No customer wants to queue only to find that the store doesn’t accept their preferred payment methods. If the goal is improving customer experience, then convenience and speed need to be a priority.
Investing in Teams
Your employees are the face of your brand, and that means they need to be one of the key priorities for improving the customer experience. While this means that your hiring process needs to be thorough so that a cultural fit becomes as important as skills, it is also critical that you:
- Have a vision for your customer experience that you can convey to your team
- Are aware of who your target customer demographics are and the trends that those demographics are looking for
- Always aim to WOW your customers with ‘above and beyond’ service
- Make sure that new team members go through a thorough training program before they face customers
- Use extensive after-sales service to get as much customer feedback as possible so that you can gauge more accurately the impact of your customer experience
- Take feedback, not just from your customers, but from your team as well
This employee-centric approach is becoming one of the most useful weapons in the retail sector’s fight to stay relevant in the digital age. As new technologies and ways to interact with customers come to the fore, it is your team that will play a major part in a retail outlet’s potential for success.
Shopping online is a solitary activity for the large part, whereas brick and mortar shopping is now becoming a much more social activity. That ability to share the shopping experience is the key to making a more effective and proactive customer experience. Ensure that your retail outlet has the potential to grow with the right blend of emerging technologies and by embracing retail trends that are going to see the brick and mortar store continue to thrive in a world of eCommerce.