Providing a positive customer experience is essential for retailers. It increases return rates, improves online reviews and ratings, and increases the bottom line. Previously, satisfaction depended on the customers' experience with employees – a friendly and helpful face was key. However, as we have transitioned into a more technologically savvy society, consumer expectations have shifted. Today, more than ever, retailers rely on technology to improve the customer experience.
Technologies that Can Improve the Customer Experience
Over the past few years, companies have introduced an array of technology, including Ombori, to improve customer experience.
Each tool offers specific features to address consumer demand. Virtual reality offers new ways for individuals to immerse and engage; artificial intelligence has prompted new avenues for learning and interaction; chatbots have enhanced company responses; the internet of things (IoT) promotes multiple connections, and programmatic advertising has introduced superior targeting.
The digital transformation we are currently witnessing has directly impacted an organization's ability to perform in a highly competitive market. Reports reveal that companies who have transformed digitally are attracting more engaged customers. These customers are six times more likely to try a new product or service from their preferred brand; are four times more likely to refer friends, family, and connections to a specific company; are two times more likely to purchase their preferred brand, even when a competitor offers a better product or price; buy 90% more frequently, and spend 60% more per purchase. According to an MIT study, companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their competitors.
Consequently, industries have started tailoring solutions to address specific customer demands. Here are the technologies that have improved the retail customer experience.
Creating an Interactive Experience
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have been struggling over the past decade as the demand for experiential opportunities has increased among multigenerational customers.
According to research, younger shoppers are leading the demand for change. Of Millennial and Gen Z consumers, 49% indicate they have physically gone into stores more often in the past year because retailers have offered enhanced on-site experiences. However, the type of interaction varies. A Walker Sands survey of more than 1,600 consumers identified the kinds of interaction they have experienced in retail stores:
- 30% said the store offered them a drink or snack
- 18% said the store offered a more personalized experience
- 17% said the store offered special events and entertainment
- 16% said the store offered kids' activities while they shopped
- 12% said the store offered a better in-store mobile experience
Reports indicate that retailers who address these trends increase their sales. In addition, customers become less price-sensitive and are more likely to contribute positive reviews and remain loyal to the brand. Ombori focuses on how to improve customer experience and relies on innovative technology to enhance satisfaction from beginning to end. Such technology includes digital signage, guided selling tools, endless aisles, and virtual checkouts.
Streamlining Queues, Limiting Wait Times
Time is money, and today's consumers are often deterred from purchasing from a retailer when confronted with long wait times. Therefore, retailers have started relying on queue management systems to reduce, if not remove, wait periods for customers. Queuing systems and self-checkouts are among the most popular tools used by retailers. They offer simple appointment booking and virtual consultations, as well as reduce the amount of time visitors spend standing in line. They also allow retailers to show they value customers' time.
When executed correctly, such strategies result in customers feeling more respected by the prospective retailer and actually increase customer retention rates. According to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated. Businesses that offer better experiences to their customers earn between 4% and 8% more than their competitors. The queueing infrastructure is just one tool contributing to these statistics.
Offering E-Commerce Solutions
Today's retailers require diverse business models to remain prominent in their respective sectors.
They rely on both in-store and online shopping experiences to engage and retain their customer base. Companies depend on technology to offer effective e-commerce solutions that enhance the customer experience. Their platforms must accommodate a variety of scenarios, blending both online and physical elements. Ombori improves customer experience through its unified commerce approach. It allows retailers to do the following:
- Present a unified view of your brand
- Create a smoother customer journey
- Break down silos between online and in-store staff
- Track customers and collect valuable consumer data
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Increase sales
Provide Customization for the Customer
On average, it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one.
Therefore, retailers should expend their resources on client retention versus client acquisition (although an effective strategy targets both).
The question is: How does a retailer tailor the shopping experience for multigenerational customers? They must leverage technology that is capable of adapting to individual consumer preferences. For example, retailers can use digital signage that changes depending on the items selected from an end aisle or use guided selling that tailors marketing directly to the specific customer's needs. Ombori understands how to improve the customer experience, and the future of shopping depends on insight into how retailers can implement customization into their platform.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
Implementation of these new technologies can create immense opportunities. However, identifying the most effective elements of a specific platform is necessary to ensure the associated costs are justifiable. Organizations should rely on surveys to measure strategy effectiveness and adjust accordingly.
Katherine Kostereva from Creatio (formerly bpm'online) reports: "Technologies allow companies to deliver a unique customer experience to individuals by analyzing their behaviors. However, with the zettabytes of data people create and consume, it might be challenging to get through so much real-time information about customers and prospects. That's why it's crucial to use software capable of processing, augmenting, and analyzing this data for actionable insights and [an] outstanding customer experience."
Key metrics to consider are conversion rates, or the number of visitors versus the number who make a purchase; bounce-back rates; and repeat customer rates (RCR), or the percentage who have purchased an item from your store more than once (higher is better).
Focusing on the Right Tech
Do not assume that every form of technology will provide a solution to your problem.
It is imperative to understand which technology is best suited for a specific function and how to implement it best to improve your bottom line. The old adage still rings true: The customer is always right – especially in today's technologically driven market.
Andreas is Founder and CEO of Ombori. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several companies, starting in his teens. He has a background in cybersecurity, and has worked for companies such as H&M and Nordnet Bank. Andreas is a passionate believer in digital transformation, and is constantly seeking ways in which technology can change the way we work, shop, and live our lives.