Learn How These Brands Improve Customer Experience With Technology

By: Saima Alibhai

Digital disruptions have dramatically altered the face of retail, changing the way consumers interact with brands. Technology has created an increased expectation of convenience and the means to deliver it, revolutionising how, when and where we buy products.

In an age where retailers must compete with brands from every corner of the world, a positive customer experience is more important than ever. Yet, many brands struggle to create and support a truly unified, personalised and technologically effective retail experience.

Read our full guide on customer experience in online retail

 

This article will look at how technology can enhance the online and in-store retail experience.

Personalising the online store

While many retailers have successfully incorporated some level of personalisation in their digital marketing, only a few have managed to provide a similarly targeted experience on their website.

Determined to tailor the whole shopping journey to its customers, Shop Direct uses data analytics to show consumers the right products at the right time and capture their attention.

On Very.co.uk, visitors are shown personalised, highly targeted product displays, based on browsing, customer and transaction data. The online retailer can analyse two years of historic customer, sales and inventory data while balancing customer needs with customer value and risk within an agile, real-time personalisation technology.

This allows them to predict customer behaviour more accurately, learn from individual behaviour and then adjust what products are displayed. The personalised website converts more browsers to buyers with web traffic increasing by 12% and profit by 43% YOY.

Providing size recommendations

One of the challenges online retailers must address is the uncertainty that online shopping can cause. Shoppers may hesitate or abandon a purchase altogether if they aren’t sure whether an item of clothing will fit just right or a piece of furniture will look good in their living room.

ASOS has launched an online tool that requires only a few pieces of information to determine the perfect size for clothing. The new website feature uses the shopper’s past purchase history and returns to recommend what size would fit best.

There’s also the option to make results more accurate by letting ASOS know which past purchases didn’t fit well and the customer’s height, weight, age and desired fit type.

Features like this, much like customer reviews, can provide reassurance and help offset any hesitation buyers might feel when deciding whether to place the order.

Connecting online customers with in-store staff

Furniture retailer Made.com found an innovative way to connect online customers with in-store staff. The initiative allows online shoppers to click on an icon to chat with an in-store assistant on the latter’s iPhone or iPad device via text or live stream and to receive product images.

By offering this more conversational rather than sales-led approach, customers can get the same immersive experience of the showrooms online. For example, online shoppers can use the service at the point of purchase to seek reassurance that the sofa would fit through their door.

The advisor in the showroom can take the measurement and ensure the customer has the confidence to proceed with the purchase. The live shop feature increased conversion to 15.9%, compared to an industry average online conversion rate of 0.95%.

Enhancing click and collect

While click and collect is one of the most popular delivery options for online orders in the UK, customers might experience long waiting times if the store is short-staffed or the shop clerk can’t find the order when they arrive to pick it up.

To improve the experience, car parts retailer Halfords is trialling in-store tablets for customer use as well as smart phones and watches to help staff pick click and collect orders at its Leamington Spa store. With more than 90% of Halfords online orders being click and collect, the new technology aims to smooth the customer experience.

Customers who arrive at the shop to collect their order check in on a touchscreen kiosk at the front of the store to receive information on where to go to collect their order as well as recommendations for relevant upsell products. Shoppers can also use the kiosk to ask for help, which pages a staff member on their phone or watch.

Overall, the technology has improved collection rates by 1% and cut paperwork from three sheets per order to one. The use of the latest mobile devices has also improved employee satisfaction as it makes staff feel valued and part of the innovation process. 

Using customer information to guide store staff

While retailers recognise the importance of using customer records to build up a more detailed picture of their preferences and improve their online experience, many struggle to do the same to enhance the in-person experience. This, in turn, causes increased friction for today’s omnichannel shoppers.

To solve this challenge, men's wear chain True Religion is equipping store staff with Apple watches which notify them when a loyal customer has entered the store and provides their purchase history in a visual manner. The watch gives a haptic response when iBeacons within the store identify the presence of a loyalty card member who has downloaded the retailer’s app. The watch also shows images of the customer’s past purchases and their social media profile, if they have opted in. The gadget equips store associates with the level of information necessary to deliver a highly personalised shopping experience.

Just Scratching the Surface

Technology offers great ways to provide shoppers with a better overall experience – one that encourages customer loyalty. As it develops and becomes easier to implement and maintain, it will only become more commonplace.

And at the end of the day, ease of use will be the critical factor in determining whether consumers adopt or reject it. While some retailers have begun experimenting with a variety of technologies to provide an easier, more personal shopping journey, we’ve only scratched the surface as to how technology can and will revolutionise the customer experience. 

 

By: Saima Alibhai - Managing Principal Consultant – Europe at Oracle + Bronto

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