In this era of ‘Retail 2.0’, the lines between virtual and real are gradually blurring, with customers seeking convenience over costs. With numerous brands fighting for even a figment of consumer’s attention, it has become imperative to be as distinct and omnipresent as possible to drive true engagement, and consequently experience.
Globally, there is a massive retelling of the retail story that we were familiar with. Competition is growing, products are becoming homogeneous, and the number of customer touchpoints have grown multi-fold. Smartphones have potted the entire purchase journey within them, and interactive displays are deriving similar values as human interactions historically have. Amidst such a scenario, how can brands leverage these ever-advancing technologies to not just offer seamlessness and convenience but also build a relationship based on loyalty and retention by driving stellar experience?
Being where the customer is
The always-connected customer of today does not view or engage with a brand in silos. Rather, they seek complete mobility and platform fluidity from brands. To achieve this, brands need to go by the adage: be where the consumers are. Basically, they would have to be present across multiple platforms, providing an enhanced experience at each touchpoint. Whichever brand is able to master this apparition trick well can pave its way to success.
Consistent brand experiences across disconnected channels, the keyword of retail today, are bridging the gap utilizing advanced technologies. The current generation is ‘digital-first’ and has adapted to technology; therefore, brands do not need to worry about customer adoption. In fact, an estimated 75% consumers expect a unified experience when they interact with brands through multiple channels.
While brands might face challenges trying to present this uniform face, the development of multiple channels is a boon,which they have not realized yet. After all, online platforms are a great way to map your customer’s journey and know them in a far-more insightful manner—something that could have never been imagined earlier. Data Analytics has emerged as an immense aid helping brands identify buyer personas across hundreds of parameters and mapping out vivid behavioral tendencies. From their demographics to their preferences and influencers, brands can objectively gather and analyze all these parameters from surveys and researches. Once a brand knows ‘who’ their target audience is in such detail, it becomes easier to plan the ‘how’ of selling.
It is not only through historical data analysis that customer behavior is predicted, but today malls are being equipped with IoT devices that can update retailers on real-time collective consumer behavior, such as the footfall on a particular day, the timings of peak traffic, the offers and deals that received better response, etc. Those free Wi-Fi spots in malls and shopping areas can serve as an effective two-way bridge, facilitating the customers in their ‘quest’ to reach the right product, while assisting the seller to reach the ‘perfect’ buyer at the same time. According to McKinsey, personalization has the potential to bring 5 to 8 times the Return on marketing investment (RoMI), along with increasing sales by more than 10%.
Transforming experiences through emerging technologies
The significance of modern-day technological interventions, especially in the customer-facing domains like retail, cannot be undermined; they are steadily gaining traction in every industry and vertical across the globe. These technologies are truly bringing a Phygital revolution, unlocking several possibilities in terms of catapulting customer engagement and experience to a whole new level.
For instance, AI-powered chatbots are making automated conversations as empathetic as possible, thereby emerging as leaders in the customer service segment. With human-like responses to customer queries, chatbots are not only driving engagement and enhancing customer experiences but also empowering businesses with lead generation, content discovery, and richer interactions.
With a phenomenal rise in the ownership of smartphones and deeper internet penetration, mobile-first is increasingly becoming the new standard for immersive customer experiences.
Prescriptive analytics to your rescue
With customers skimming through various channels on their path to final purchase, the real question is: What are the channels that are to be focused on in order to delight customers and influence their purchase decisions? This is where prescriptive analytics comes in.
Prescriptive analytics has the potential to identify clear decision points and their implications, thereby empowering businesses to make better-informed decisions, while excelling in service delivery simultaneously. Equipped with a prescriptive analytics platform, brands can collect, analyze, and act upon valuable insights along with offering a smooth shopping experience.
Brands that can deliver value as per the customer expectations by adopting a strong tech-oriented approach today will rule the retail world of tomorrow. And as for the customers, if they have a smartphone, there has never been a better time than now to be a buyer!
The article has been penned down by Ashwin Parmar, Senior Vice President – Retail, Cybage