Consider the ‘Beyond Digital’ Approach to Power Omnichannel Customer Experience
Imagine browsing your items online, adding them to your preferred list and setting up an appointment with sales executives even before you arrive at the store. By the time you reach, your dressing room is already stocked with the items of your choice and a wall–sized touchscreen allows you to browse other similar items. If one size doesn’t fit you, you can request for another at the click of a button. As you make your purchase decision, the screen displays other irresistible offers based on your shopping history & preferences. Billing takes another three minutes and the system even allows you to scan the QR codes of additional items, adding to your purchase basket.
Welcome to the ‘beyond digital’ world of real–time customer experience. Retailers can adopt latest technologies to boost their sales and gain customer loyalty. A Tech-savvy fashion brand like Rebecca Minkoff was able to triple its clothing sales by using smart interactive mirrors/touchscreens within their connected store. 30% of the customers who tried items using the touchscreen also requested for additional items, adding to their basket.
The Changing Customer Landscape
In a recent survey, 71% US consumers stated that they still preferred shopping from physical stores, even if the same items were available online. However, customer engagement is not what it used to be. Shopping is no more treated as a need–based activity, but an experience, providing a unique opportunity to retailers to develop strategies to engage customers and boost their business. However, customer–oriented strategies cannot be rooted on just being sporadic and transactional in nature. Retailers need to strategize and adopt an end–to–end digital approach to offer real–time engagement to their customers.
Not surprising then, those retailers that have not been able to transform their operations and models are facing grim circumstances. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently warned that the UK’s retail sector was facing upto 900,000 job losses over the next decade due to closure of thousands of shops. Transformation is inevitable and retailers need to adopt a customer centric digital strategy.
The ‘Beyond Digital’ Multi–channel Experience
A study published by the Aberdeen Group shows that retailers that have adopted robust multichannel strategies are able to retain 89% of their customers while others have a retention rate of 39% only. Data is the core here, not just for knowing customers, but drawing extensive insights based on past behavior and shopping preferences. Retailers can draw upon a vast pool of data generated – from Facebook and Instagram posts to digital calendar entries and purchase records for providing a unique 360–degree retail experience. For example, data from a shopper’s smart–watch might suggest that she may have recently included a 3 mile morning run as part of her fitness regime. Armed with this tiny bit of information and shopping history, retailers can advertise, recommend, suggest and cross–sell anything from running shoes to health drinks.
Going ‘Beyond Digital’ is about delivering real–time experience and brand promise by integrating each and every hub within the retail ecosystem. By adopting end–to–end digital technologies, 21st Century Retailers can deliver unique and personalized experiences to all their customers.
Michael Romero, Global Principal for BEYONDigital™, HCL Technologies