Retail customer experience – back to reality?
As the whole of the retail industry keeps a watchful eye on developments in the market, it’s tempting to focus entirely on the ‘now’ – what will get us through the current crisis. And, while the rapid evolution of retail technology to meet the needs of customers who may not be able to visit a physical store has proved to be vital to the survival of a number of retailers, there will inevitably come a time when retailers will once again have to strike the right balance between on- and offline customer experiences.
While no-one can predict precisely when the shift towards normality will begin, retailers need to start preparing now for a return to more face-to-face in-store experiences, even if they’re at a distance initially. If they can take the lessons learned from building relationships with customers virtually and apply them to store-based interactions, retailers can put themselves on track to offer customers the kind of choice they’re looking for – meeting the needs of those who are ready for a return to the store as well as those who feel safer shopping from home.
According to business and technology futurist Bernard Marr’s 2021 predictions for the future of retail in Forbes: ‘Connecting these technologies is enabling retailers to bring the convenience of online shopping to offline shops and stores, and the richly interactive environment of offline shopping to the world of e-commerce.
‘Well-heeled shoppers are used to receiving personal attention when shopping at high-end stores, and personalizing their high-value purchases such as cars, bespoke clothing, and jewellery. However, technology is now ushering in a new age of mass-personalisation, allowing this to be carried out at scale across a growing range of goods and services.’
Superior CX depends on superior clienteling
This is where clienteling tech comes into its own – the only way to provide the right kind of insight and personalised, one-to-one advice in-store and at home is to have complete, cross-channel access to customer information coupled with detailed knowledge of the entire product range and how it matches their preferences. Integration across the board into one single platform with everything the store associate or advisor needs immediately available at their fingertips opens up opportunities for:
- Personalised conversations based on customer preferences coupled with expert advice, including appointments and profiles, tailored inspirations and looks
- Increased sales because it’s easy for customers to buy recommended products either directly after their conversation or once they’re at home, thanks to seamless cross-channel baskets and follow-up communications, as well as the ability to use comprehensive customer information to reorder, cross-sell and upsell
- Relationship building through direct messaging to give tailored updates including product and event waitlists, ensuring customers are the first to know about new product launches and when products are back in stock
- Smart analysis of customer behaviour, giving store associates and advisors the confidence to suggest products, services or events, either in-store or virtual
At a time when the industry needs it most to re-establish stability, clienteling is a perfect blend of technology and the human touch – using a platform for the intelligent application of both customer and product data allows store associates and advisors to establish themselves as brand ambassadors and trusted consultants – it's a winning combination in terms of business value and customer experience.
With a background in marketing and psychology, Emma Newman is a talented Client Consultancy Director who has worked with high-profile clients across the retail spectrum. Much in demand as a customer experience expert, she has been instrumental in building customer-focused strategies for a number of leading brands.