The ease of comparison shopping has made customers more susceptible to changing their brand loyalties, and as a result, retail marketers are forced to remain inventive to retain and gain customers long-term.
Ecommerce has not always been viewed as the credible medium for businesses that it is today. However, now more than half of consumers prefer to shop online and analysis of the industry has shown its substantial growth in market share.
As retailers rethink their customer experience strategies, the broader implications of ecommerce popularity should also be considered, as trends in consumer preferences and behavioural patterns drive overarching trends in the brick and mortar environment.
So, how can a retailer remain relevant?
Be more than a store
The physical store needs to be somewhere that consumers feel compelled to go back to, meaning that experience should now be at the forefront of retention strategies, overruling price wars. A customer’s experience in-store needs to be unique and engaging in order to achieve this, and retailers are realising that putting digital in-store can significantly bolster a brand’s relevance to the customer. Some of the most innovative and compelling stores make digital a core part of their in-store experience.
Personalise, personalise, personalise
Artificial Intelligence (AI) gives retailers the power to personalise the shopping and product experience on a large scale, with ease, using large amounts of data. Retailers have access to a huge amount of data surrounding sales patterns, customer event attendance, retail trends and weather forecasts. When this information is combined with customer spending patterns and behaviours in-store, it creates a compelling story for retail marketers to build on. AI is additionally being used in areas of retail such as stock replenishment, whereas for decades, such large-scale activities have been largely manual processes, and have often been based on gut feeling and assumptions. While retailers must make AI central to the marketing and business strategies, machines cannot replace the excellent customer service that can be expertly delivered by a physical salesperson – helping shoppers to find what they need, providing further information and helping them through the checkout process. In a market where consumer spending habits are changing the brick and mortar arena, retailers would be wise to acknowledge the key differentiator of the in-store experience in providing a personalised customer service proposition.
Bring the magic
Over the next decade, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will transform the retail experience both online and offline, in many cases will connect the two environments seamlessly. Visual search is also a key trend driving the way in which consumers shop for products, with increasing numbers of customer journeys starting with an image or a photograph. Designing customer experience around appealing to the eye of the consumer will speak volumes in attracting new business.