Retailers happen to be the fastest advancing vertical – in terms of seeking to provide (and in many a cases, already on to it) the exceptional customer experience to their customers. They have chalked out plans and strategized to map the customer journeys as and when they happen (runtime and analytics) and also by the general behavior of the various demographics (type, history, preferences, behavior and analytics)
But it also happens to be that the always-right, overtly demanding, erratically moody and the egocentric customer expects something more than simply picture-perfectness. After all the buildup of omni-channel, agility, omnipresence, quickness, accessibility, and e-commerce, consumers seem to be having second thoughts about the benefits of online shopping. Of course, that means we shouldn’t write off stores just yet. So now, retailers struggling to provide a seamless, cross-channel customer experience may need to re-think key aspects of their approach.
Remember Charles, the shop-owner who had a little chat with the ‘I, me and myself’ customer? Well, he was guided towards customer experience enhancement by employment of analytics, not-so-big-but-still-big-data, consumer behavior, customer preferences, environmental factors, e-commerce, mobile enablement and social media presence. He and his customers seemed happy at first, but the bubble had burst faster than anticipated and this time around, he had ideas and recommendations of his own.
Let’s have a look at key points and the take from our discussion with Mr. Charles.
Spin everything around your store
According to Charles’ first-hand and recent experience with today’s customers, convenience seems to be an important factor. Customers wanted the convenience of online shopping transferred to the store. This obviously meant making more of the store.
It’s evident that consumers want to be able to access services (all those available from home/ work and on the go) in-store via their mobile devices. So, we see that we don’t just need to take our store online, but also bring ‘online’ to the store. Customers need to have an exceptional in-store experience as well, because the rich world of online products seems to collapse with the poorly setup store.
Take: Put your store at the center of the design and spin the online world around it – seamlessly integrating the in-store and online experience.
Make online a reality, instead of a fantasy
Come on, consumers live in the real world and they’re more realistic than the advertising world deems them to be. Again, when the virtual (online) experience doesn’t coincide with the physical (in-store) experience, the very-famous customer journey comes to a dead-end – thus, facing disconnect!
For many consumers, shopping online isn’t as convenient as we like to think so shouldn’t we be onto fighting the fatigue consumers face while online? We should enable reserving of products online prior to trying them out in-store. That would make availability of the product (the size and color) not a fuss at all. Also, knowing the availability of the products across all channels and real-time updates on that would provide a great and connected experience.
Take: The online experience should be more than just the products – details should be ornate and all information should be synchronized between the warehouses – stores – online databases. Any difference in the demand and supply would be a show-kill.
A shoe in the bag is worth two at the shelf
Scrolling through the overwhelming quantities of products cannot compete with holding on of your favorite selection in your hands. When consumers order products online, they expect the delivery to be real fast.
It’s necessary to be able to maintain flexible fulfillment options. Some consumers like to buy online, but pick it up physically (click and collect) so that they don’t really have to wait. Others may opt to wait, but the wait should be over before they get fidgety!
Take: Give the customers what they want, when they want it. So go ahead, ask them when they want the product delivered.
Love begets love (you know what I mean!)
The basics of love and loyalty state that no amount of love is enough and sometimes even a small token seems to be sufficient. So, give your customers a bit of everything and go ahead, do a little mix and match. Customers love surprises (don’t we all?). Convenient locations, product assortments (online settings matching the store settings), price comparisons, great customer service, free shipping, loyalty cards. offers via the social media, prized competitions, personalized offers (birthday promotions/ gender-age-choice specific discounts) – a little of ABC and sometimes a lot of XYZ would keep customers interested.
Take: While you should always have a plan to keep customers interested, engaged and shopping happily, consistency is still key. The offers, discounts and competitions available should be consistent across all channels. You don’t want to favor the in-store customers over the online ones, or vice versa.
Customers are like children that don’t want to be ignored for another favorite kid. They wanted online. We gave them online. Then, all of a sudden, they wanted in-store. So, we’ll give them everything they ever wished for.
A healthy balance is to be restored between the physical and virtual worlds to make the customers happy. We need to work towards providing a consistent yet exceptional customer experience across all channels, and that includes the in-store experiences that blend well with the online ones.
Would you like to bounce off ideas on your retail customer experience? Please feel free to reach out and we’ll be happy to do that:
Ephlux is an agile consulting and technology services company that provides application, integration and marketing services that enhance customer experience.
Our play is to work with CX, marketing and IT teams to help them orchestrate customer-centric processes around people, services, channels and devices both on-prem and on the enterprise cloud and build touch-points including mobile, web, kiosk and social apps across the customer journey.
Along with mobile, web and social apps, we provide Oracle CX Cloud apps (Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud), Oracle PaaS (ADF, MAF, SOA), Adobe Marketing Cloud (Adobe CQ5 | Experience Manager), E-Business Suite, JD Edwards Business Services, JBoss ESB, WSO2 and enterprise integration services.
We are Oracle gold partner specialized on Oracle CX Cloud app suite and are also partners with Adobe for their Adobe CQ5 (Experience Manager) / Marketing Cloud.
We have been working in the US, UK and KSA markets with clients including Disney, IKEA, PHILIPS, Johnson & Johnson, Gibson Guitars along with some very disruptive start-ups.