In recent blog posts, we’ve looked at how digital disruption is impacting the way both retailers sell and customers shop in bricks n’ mortar retail stores. It’s disruption driven by technology. Specifically how devices have changed the browsing and buying behaviour of audiences as well as how brands can better serve customers thanks to increased connectivity and data. Today we’re going to look at two key areas of future retailing; connectivity and collaboration.
Always on, always connected. That’s the real truth of the modern consumer and it’s causing retailers to re-evaluate their in-store digital experience. We have already discussed showrooming on the Conversity blog as well as its opportunistic opposite webrooming but retailers need to understand a consumer that is constantly connected is the new norm and the in-store experience needs to be digital to be successful.
This shift might be as simple as offering free Wi-Fi in order to help the customers connect with the content they need or their connections online. Alternatively, it might mean investment in your own digital presence whether that’s mobile-optimised websites, apps or social media OR it might require the installation of beacon technology to bring physical and virtual together in a single loop.
Connecting the customer journey is especially important when attempting to inspire advocacy and ensure sales. Using SaaS such as IGS enables the creation of a personalised snapshot of a customer’s journey and indicated preferences through the sales channel. A link of that personalised online journey is emailed to the customer so they can pick-up from where they left off and continue their journey online, by calling your call centre or back at store. This feature connects channels from in-store engagement, to post-visit interactions at any of your available touch points.
Whatever the investment needed, a connected store is designed to appeal to the connected customer and that is very likely to be your audience today.
Automation will be another important part of the connected store of the future. Automation of the more mundane tasks of shopping all adds value to the customer experience and CX is the cornerstone of future retailing. Self service checkouts and contactless payment methods are already taking the pain out of paying but there is so much more to do in this arena whether that’s automation to reduce queuing like the Starbucks ‘Order and Pay’ app, Westfield London’s automation of paying for parking or the use of virtual assistants in-store.
In a report done by Smart Focus, 88% of respondents believed the retail sector is either on-track or advanced when it comes to in-store technology adoption. That shows the opportunity for retailers but also shows that if your brand hasn’t already considered its digital in-store experience then you may be falling behind.
In the store of the future, collaboration will be a by-product of connectivity. If you want to connect to your customer base then you will need to work with them to offer products, promotions, services and experiences that they want. This will see the power shift move backwards and forwards between brand and buyer.
When the power shifts to the side of the consumer, we’re going to see a new approach to convenience and social shopping appear. Click n’ collect, the ability to get everything you need from a single point of service and on-demand deals/content will become the norm whilst social commerce will return in a big way. Not in the form of Facebook credits or in-store check-in but fully integrated social experiences to enhance a store visit whether that’s building real social experiences into a location (i.e. going for a coffee with pals) or virtual assistance via in-store devices (i.e. being able to share looks with your social community and crowdsource opinion in the moment).
However, the power shift won’t make brands powerless and greater collaboration with the consumer will lead to greater opportunities along the way. An omnichannel approach will make consumers more open to sharing data with brands and that will breed a contextual shopping revolution, a brave new world where customers can be served what they want when they want it and in the form they want it to receive it. Although still sounding like power to the consumer, this increasingly personalised experience will breed loyalty that brands can benefit from for years. Telco businesses are already striding ahead in this area, adding an omni channel guided sales platform that allows customers to keep conversations going in store, online or through call centres.
To meet the standards of the store of the future, brands are going to need to change. The change might be a tweak to operations or it might be a complete shift in how a company operates, either way change is inevitable. At Conversity, we believe that change will be based on how connected your business is to its audience and how willing you are to collaborate with them to offer products and services they need. Our platform enables your sales people to connect to their customers and build advocacy.
With a more connected customer base, measures in place to build advocacy and an approach to collaboration that will allow your brand to serve based on customer expectation, you’ll be prepared to become the store of the future.
Look forward to hearing your views.