For example, one retail chain that excels at contactless omnichannel allows customers to shop their online store based on the nearest retail store. By sharing their location, customers can see exactly what’s in stock right now at the store closest to them, without having to sort through a huge grid of products to find items that are available nearby. From the moment they arrive on the site, they only see what they can buy and pick up today.
That inventory visibility makes the whole experience faster, clearer and less frustrating. It allows customers to find what they need fast and get it, without the unpleasant experience of going to the store only to find that their purchase is out of stock. To offer this kind of seamless experience, retailers need to invest in a system that provides unified stock-level data that’s continuously updated in real time.
3. One-way communication with customers is no longer enough
The other key to excellent contactless in-store experiences is communication. When a customer makes a purchase for pickup, of course the retailer should follow up with an order confirmation and update emails, text messages or push notifications from their app. This messaging should set expectations — this is how long it will take us to prepare your order, we’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready, and here’s where to go and what to do when you arrive at the store.
However, effective communication must be two-way. If your customers can’t contact you immediately if they have a question about their curbside pickup or would like to change the pickup time, it creates a frustrating experience.
So, retailers need to make sure they have a way to listen, not just send messages. This requires some technology to respond quickly to customer texts, emails and phone calls, but the real key here is having actual people to engage with customers. Without people to pick up the phone or respond to texts, the customer experience can fall apart quickly. Employees play a critical role in customer experience.
4. Headless commerce helps retailers enable these improvements
Headless commerce is something for retailers to consider if they need to differentiate their CX. That’s because the headless commerce model allows you to quickly deploy updates to deliver a seamless experience across touchpoints without impacting the back-end system.
To create the kind of content-driven engagement that brings customers in, like influencer videos and social posts that you’re sharing across multiple platforms, plus multiple two-way customer communication channels, retailers can’t rely on the costly, slow-to-develop enterprise platform model.
Rather than invest in enterprise platforms for every channel — and whatever channels will be popular in a few months — retailers need a lightweight, low-cost, agile platform for each. These “heads” all connect to an omnichannel enterprise platform that allows them to keep up with changes in customer engagement methods without sinking a lot of money into a single platform or app that takes a long time to get up to speed.
Now’s the time to set your CX priorities
As retailers plan their CX improvements for 2021, it’s important to focus on the fundamentals. Tech-heavy solutions like personalization and AI are hot topics in customer experience right now, but without great content, real-time stock data and immediate two-way communication in place, your omnichannel customer experience won’t meet your customers’ new expectations.
This is a good time to make sure you’ve got those fundamentals up to par and the digital maturity and foundation in place to move to headless commerce. Taking these steps will set you up to implement changes fast for a more seamless customer experience in the year ahead, no matter which channels your customers use.
Aaron Eversoll is a market development VP within the consumer products, retail and distribution (CPRD) market unit at Capgemini, North America. Aaron is responsible for driving Capgemini’s Digital Customer Experience initiative within CPRD, focusing on helping clients solve their digital and commerce challenges and enabling clients to deliver an overall enhanced experience to their customers. Aaron is a proud alum of Truman State University.