The experience of consumers has evolved over the past few years as tech companies have developed new solutions to improve the shopping journey. From simplifying the checkout process to creating an omnichannel experience, tech companies are continuously changing the way people shop.
In a recent interview, Ombori CEO Andreas Hassellöf joined Jason Coan, DGM for Retail and Future Operations at Landmark Group in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to discuss how self-service technology has impacted the retail journey of today’s customers.
Many of the Ombori Grid solutions were on display during the walkthrough with Hassellöf and Coan as they discussed the impact of each technology on the customer experience. Here’s what they shared:
Technology Reduces Customer Wait Time in Line
While walking through the store, Hassellöf pointed out the following: “I have … observed [as I go] through this store that there aren’t so many lines right now as we head to the self-checkout area.”
Self-checkout locations are strategically placed throughout the store, enabling customers to purchase items without having to wait in a physical queue or rely on the assistance of sales associates. Instead, customers can scan their items using barcodes and pay directly at the terminal using either a credit card or an app on their mobile device.
Coan explained: “[The checkout process] needs to be [less] cumbersome because whenever our customers are making purchases, they need somewhere to put the products [and] de-tag them.” Self-checkout technology allows them to do this.
When integrated correctly, technology such as Ombori Self-Checkout increases customer satisfaction by offering shoppers greater choice and convenience and increases revenue by reducing product abandonment and lost sales. Additional benefits include the following:
- Faster checkout: Customers do not need to wait in a physical queue; they feel more empowered to complete purchases on their own, without the assistance of a sales associate.
- Increased customer loyalty: Customers will come back to stores that offer a smoother checkout process because it is convenient and meets their needs.
- Increased productivity: Customers can self-serve, which reduces the workload of store associates, who have more time to focus on other customer-related tasks.
- Improved store layout and customer flow: Checkout stations can be located throughout the store, making it easier for customers to complete their purchases.
- More accurate data: Detailed tracking of what customers are looking for enables retailers to predict future demand and optimize in-store inventory and physical layout.
In addition to offering self-checkout, stores are now allowing employees to check out guests via a hand-held device, which results in even greater customer satisfaction.
Coan explained: “[This] is an important part of the customer journey. [We want] our colleagues to have [this technology] available to them in the store, [so they can assist customers] if [they are] in a rush, if [they have] other demands – whether the children are with them or whether we [don’t] want to put them into a queue. The staff member can actually roll up the bill on their handheld [device], and they can take the customer’s payment straight away. We have stations [located] throughout the store where hangers and carrier bags can be kept – and it leads to an easy exit for our customers.”
Although not present during the walkthrough, reduced lines in stores can also be accomplished through technology such as Ombori Queue Management. This solution allows shoppers to join a digital queue to check out instead of standing in a physical line for an extended period of time. Visitors add themselves to the virtual queue online in advance or via a QR code at the retail location.
Once added, they receive a notification that they are in the queue. As their turn approaches, they receive another notification. They receive a final notice when their turn actually arrives. Additionally, customers can check their position in line and the expected wait time via their phone or a digital display in the store.
By enabling virtual queues, retailers can ensure that customers no longer waste time in line and have the opportunity to continue shopping until they are ready to checkout. Customers experience a smoother and less frustrating shopping experience.
As a result of implementing this technology, retailers can expect to see a 10 to 30% reduced wait time, up to a 40% reduced perceived wait time, up to a 60% reduction in queue abandonment, up to a 25% increase in impulse purchases, and up to a 40% increase in net promoter score (NPS). Queue management software is the optimal solution for retailers who want to provide customers with digital solutions to enhance their personal shopping experience.
Integration with a Customer Loyalty Program Increases Revenue
Coan and Hassellöf also discussed how a loyalty program can increase customer retention rates and overall revenue when integrated with self-service technology. “Loyalty programs offer rewards, discounts, and other incentives as a way of attracting and retaining customers. They are designed to encourage repeat business by offering people a reward for their loyalty. Typically, the more often a customer patronizes a store or brand – and the more money they spend – the greater the reward.
“To leverage these programs, businesses [need to] rely on loyalty technology to implement and track different offers. This technology includes member databases, customer service and points of sale data, advocate marketing tools, and artificial intelligence (AI) chat functions, to name a few. By using such programs, businesses can develop and modify their loyalty programs based on customer demand.”
Coan explained: “All of our members … can either scan [their loyalty] card or [they] can enter [their assigned] number [manually]. We feel that it is important for us to reach out and understand the … self-checkout [process], and the feedback that we've [received] … is very good. Knowing our customers is super important for us at this time.”
Retailers that show dedication to their customers often see those individuals returning for future purchases. Coan revealed that 83% of orders are registered with loyalty programs.
Today, “increased customer acquisition costs are beginning to dig [deeper] into retailers’ profits … merchants are struggling on multiple fronts, facing a continuing labor shortage and supply chain issues.” As a result, customer retention is more important than ever. Loyalty programs are helping businesses drive customer loyalty and profits.
However, retailers need to conduct thorough research and analysis before implementing a loyalty program. In addition to leveraging technology, businesses should take the following things into consideration:
Retailers need to understand the elements of customer loyalty:
Cognitive loyalty – derives from previous/explicit knowledge or recent information based on experience and the cost-to-benefit ratio of a product – the cost should be competitive, and the product should be quality;
Affective/attitudinal loyalty – creates a solid brand that is recognizable to consumers;
Conative loyalty – develops a memorable brand, specifically one that customers will purchase multiple times and refer to others; and
Action loyalty – establishes a brand that connects with customers and reflects their social, individual, or financial preferences.
Additional considerations for retailers:
Retailers need to promote brand awareness to instill the brand’s concept in the minds of its target audience members. This can include using digital signage to promote interactions or leveraging QR codes to engage prospective and current customers.
Retailers need to personalize their approach by adjusting marketing campaigns to acknowledge individual consumer needs and modifying loyalty programs accordingly.
Retailers need to keep it authentic. Research shows that “programs that establish a positive emotional connection with members see 27% more members increase their purchases with the brand.”
Technology Continues to Fuel the Future of Customer Experience
The expectations of today’s customers are constantly changing – the modern customer experience needs to go above and beyond traditional customer service methods. It must integrate customer preferences as well as their expectations into each consumer-brand touchpoint – both virtual and physical.
In order to create a positive customer experience, fuel brand loyalty, and drive sales growth, today’s retailers must invest in the right digital tools. Companies like Ombori Grid are trying to assist them in achieving this goal. Finding the right technology will not only allow businesses to capture and convert customers in a new way, but it will also offer them an advantage over those competitors who have yet to align technology with their customer experiences.