Today's retail technology can capture a customer's buying preferences, shopping trends and customer experience reflections in ways never seen before. Businesses can now get incredibly accurate snapshots of how customers feel about nearly every retail experience, which can help inform business decisions around operations, resourcing and ultimately growth.
Take the restaurant industry, for example. In the traditional sit-down restaurant setting, the primary way a restaurant owner knows if the customers enjoy their experience is if they return. They don't always see or know the customer’s reaction, and therefore can't quickly adapt and make adjustments that might increase the likelihood of return business.
Now compare this with the dining experience through apps like Uber Eats or Skip The Dishes. With every order, the apps collect data on everything, capturing insights that can be applied to improve customer satisfaction. They can also get customer feedback on every element of the order, including the delivery process. This practice of information gathering and analyzing data is incredibly insightful for finetuning operations and offerings, not only with the restaurant industry but all types of businesses.
It’s helpful to think of the customer experience as a journey that begins from the very first step inside your brick and mortar store or click on your e-commerce website; but the journey doesn't end with the actual purchase. Rather, the journey continues based on how easy and convenient it is for your customers to transact with your business, how relevant your products and promotions are, and how effectively you target offerings to the specific customer profile, whether the customer realizes it or not.
It's all about behaviour
To understand your customers, you need to understand their behaviour every step along their journey, from browsing to purchasing and beyond. Gathering information about where your customers are and what they’re doing can provide meaningful insight, allowing you to apply those insights to better align with what your customers want. After all, customers can shop and get what they need in mere seconds from the comfort of their home using their internet connection. Targeting your business’s efforts and gathering, interpreting and applying customer behaviour insights can not only increase revenue, but it can also streamline your day-to-day operations and improve efficiencies on the back end.
For example, insights on web browsing behaviour can inform your decision to offer customized promotions, such as a discount code for items left in an online shopping cart. Those which are focused and most relevant to your customers create personalized, tailored experiences and makes shopping easier and better for both parties. This can ultimately drive the success of your business, not only securing that particular transaction but also increasing brand affinity and likelihood of repeat business and customer loyalty.
Understanding customer journeys enables you to deliver timely information, relevant products and pertinent services to customers wherever and however they want to receive them. On the back end, this means ensuring inventory is as accurate as possible, re-examining your operations to identify the most efficient, effective ways to fulfill orders, and understanding all activity in your business.
This responsive approach requires a commitment to adapting your business – whether it’s storefront displays or reviewing and updating product cycles – in a timely manner. So how do you manage the day-to-day running of your business while also applying a continuous improvement approach to customer experience?
How to use technology to listen to your customers… even when they’re not talking
Let's look at the grocery industry as another example. One of the latest trends is moving from in-store to online grocery shopping, forcing many large and small grocers to ask themselves the same question: are we properly aligned to best manage the influx of online business? Are we overstocked and overstaffed in the main store area but understocked and understaffed in the back area, where online orders get filled? This can lead to serious cost inefficiencies and undermine the customer’s experience, potentially cancelling their journey with your business.
Many of the bigger players in the retail industry have long embraced technology to improve customer experience, but comparatively few smaller or local businesses have adopted the same technology. Reasons include lack of exposure or understanding of what technology can do for their business, or the myth that technological improvements are cost prohibitive.
Technology can help you and your business – regardless of size or budget – glean all sorts of insights about your existing or potential customers that can enhance their experience and enrich their journey. You can increase accuracy for orders and inventory, and reduce wait times for order fulfillment, ensuring your customers have what they need when they need it. You can improve resourcing efficiency to ensure you have the right amount of staff available when your customers need them. You can even maximize your marketing efforts to grow conversion rates and achieve quantifiable results.
It’s easy to get lost in the latest technology’s capabilities when talking about the modern retail landscape. But modern technology is most effective if it meets the unique needs of your business, focusing on the customer journey to provide a more personalized experience and therefore making transacting easier.
Choosing the technology solutions that achieve your goals and work for your business
Whenever I work with retail clients to identify and implement solutions, I treat it as a partnership. I ensure I have a thorough understanding of their business, asking questions they may not have considered.
- Do you want to access up-to-date stock information and improve order and inventory accuracy by connecting multiple data sources?
- Do you want to securely connect associates to information and enable transaction processing, both in the store and beyond?
- Do you want to enable associate mobility inside and outside of the store through ubiquitous connectivity?
- Do you want to deliver personalized and contextual product and service information by utilizing video analytics to determine footfall, dwell-time and queue-length metrics to inform marketing, merchandising and staffing decisions?
- Do you want to enable seamless cross-channel customer experiences?
Regardless of what your goals are, it’s imperative that we use the right tools for the task, based on the unique needs of your business. For example, if you are looking to acquire a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to automatically identify and track labels attached to products or objects in your warehouse, I want to ensure you have the right solution for your business. You may not need the most expensive option in the market, or one with bells and whistles; quite possibly, you can do more with less.
Helping you navigate your technology journey is paramount; understanding your unique challenges is integral to our partnership. And with the shared goal of enhancing the customer journey and driving your business forward, it’s crucial to keep your customers top-of-mind.
Implementing change while maintaining the customer lens
When evolving your business with technology solutions and tools, it’s important to make informed decisions. I take the approach of maximizing opportunities while minimizing overall business risk. I will work with you to identify and calculate every impact – positive and negative – of the implementation. Information is key: the more we know, the less risk there is, and the greater success we’ll have in maintaining the high level of service your customers expect and deserve.
This principle applies equally to the customer journey: with the right tools in place, the customer will tell you everything you need to know about making their retail experience with you everything it can be. Listen to them.