The retail landscape is evolving at a rapid pace. The disruption of mobile devices acts as the catalyst for massive change, and there is no sign of slowing down… It’s an era of global digital transformation, and “digital Darwinism”, meaning more rigid competitions. Nevertheless, if you are a retailer, technology is not your enemy – the reality is on the opposite.
It gives you the inestimable opportunity to deliver powerful and differentiating customer experiences… This, is the key to a successful transition into the digital age, where the quality of your product is not enough, but where the customer experience becomes paramount.
What are the trends in customer experience that show the future of retail?
Perhaps you think the wave of digital upheaval has already passed, but what we are seeing now are just the first signs of a revolution that will completely disrupt the customer’s buying experience. The fusion of the physical and digital worlds will accelerate in the coming years:
The commercial value chain will completely remodel itself. To be competitive, traditional retailers – or maybe not traditional that all – must reimagine their value proposition to find the best uses of their stores. The appearance of the smartphone has brought trade to new directions, sometimes unexpected. The main effect of this change is the replacement of traditional consumers with autonomous “digital clients”.
PHYGITAL – Physical & Digital
“Digital customers” have a customer trace different from traditional customers: they move, from an online experience, to an offline experience. The ability to reach them in these micro-moments of their buying experience will be what sets a memorable brand experience apart from any brand experience.
As confirmed by Google’s recent changes to its search engine algorithm, customers have a better sense of the companies that deliver a great experience across all channels, and primarily, on mobile. They are thus ready to turn to a competitor when they do not receive what they want, when they want it, and in the way they want.
The customer experience of retail is not limited to the physical presence of the store
The recent opening of Amazon Go proves that the physical store is not doomed. It just needs to be reinvented to attract digital customers. The new reality is that customers expect retailers to offer an incredible experience, at every step of the shopping journey. The road to the future of retail begins with the need to reinvent the store experience.
Experience of purchase without seam
In a mobile ecosystem, the presence of multiple points of contact means that retail chains are addressing their customers beyond the concrete walls of the store. If the journey of the digital customer has been completely reinvented by the smartphone, resellers must connect to their customers seamlessly and simultaneously on different channels. For example, very quickly, everyone will have to be able to browse the products of a store on their smartphone, check their availability, buy the product on their mobile or contactless, and finally come and pick it up in the stores, then receive after-sales services via a chat tool, again on their mobile.
This reality is upon us now…
The only way for retailers to deal with this new reality, and keep their customers in their stores, is to allow these customers to reach them easily, to instantly locate their shop, to scan the real world – to know their stock, and leverage technologies to streamline and enhance the shopping experience of their customers… The interaction – virtual and physical – between the customer and the product is essential to create an immersive and personalized in-store experience. Contactless payment, digital screens, notifications and other tools offer new opportunities to increase customer engagement and improve the old layout of stores.
Trade based on the human itself
In the digital age, retailers will never be able to beat the giants of e-commerce on the quality of their stock, but they can count on a critical element to differentiate themselves: the human experience. They have to go from “selling products” to “sales experience”. The focus should be on creating lasting relationships, built through all stages of product discovery and purchase.
The membership economy changes the logic of customer engagement, and loyalty is no longer a matter of money and cards. Part of the answer lies on personalized and contextual content, on game mechanics, physical events and social connections.
Mobile and social store
Although we will not be putting cash and traditional credit cards in the trash, mobile payments are already changing the way we shop… The industry is implementing new technologies such as NFC technology or fingerprint recognition. Let cash disappear is the imperative of the next 10 years. Thanks to the mobile tools revolution, contactless payment is just around the corner. According to Forrester Research, mobile payments will rise to $ 90 billion in the coming years, and retailers must be ready for this huge change.
Machine learning and customer data learning
How to understand the tastes and needs of customers? How can you use this knowledge to make better decisions? Amazon is a clear demonstration of the power of machine learning and smart data! Know what your customer wants before he knows it, to anticipate his/her satisfaction. We are able to track user interaction with a product, website, app, store, account… and powerful new metrics appear to help them improve efficiency.
Smart Data is an opportunity but also a threat: the balance between data and privacy concerns will be vital as the future of retail is in the hands of customers.