Brick and mortar’s customer experience advantage in retail

The retail world has been rapidly evolving with the increase in online retailers, digital interaction and growing competition. As the shopping experience becomes immersive, consumers have endless shopping options both online and in traditional stores. In such an environment of multiple retailers clamming for buyers’ attention, how can retailers continue to have a competitive edge?

Superior customer experience continues to make all the difference.

We all know the scenarios. Sudden lineups that leave shoppers waiting, mistimed coffee breaks, and lack of product knowledge that prevents staff from answering customer queries. All of these result in frustrated shoppers who don’t receive the experience they hoped for.

Today, without a clear differentiator, consumers are more likely to reject anything less than excellent service when a competitor on the market is offering the same quality of products at a similar price.

Two significant customer experience challenges that brick and mortar retailers face are:

1. In-store shopping has to align the online retail experience
With limitations on physical space and inventory, it’s not viable for every product to be available in stock at a retailer’s store. Despite the lure of online shopping, customers with specific questions will venture in-store to speak to a sales associate face-to-face before making a purchase.

Mobile devices are a great way to assist in-store shoppers. Seamlessly connecting in-store and online inventory, retail tablets help associates create endless aisles, deliver enhanced customer experience and ‘save a sale’ when items are not stocked at their location.

In a busy retail store environment, sales associates tend to be transient by nature. Leveraging the potential of in-store technology transforms transient workers to dedicated personal shoppers; closing higher sales and winning customer loyalty.

2. Wait times and increasing customer engagement

Time is money, and no customer likes to wait. Engagement between shoppers and retailers is at its lowest when customers are waiting in lines. This translates to increased perceived wait times – the amount of time that customers ‘think’ they waited, compared to the actual length of the time that they actually wanted.

Some of the common causes:

1. Long wait lines at fitting rooms or while waiting to speak to a store associate can often lead to customers choosing to leave the store without purchasing.

2. Associates unable to complete timely transactions due to technical issues with POS cash registers at check-out. This causes extended wait times and frustration for customers experiencing the issue and those waiting in line.

In each instance, a shopper that walks out the door is not only a lost sale but also a lost chance at building and maintaining life-long brand loyalty. Utilizing interactive tools such as digital signage, mobile apps and tablets can help decrease perceived wait time. Mobile devices are often used by sales associates as “line-busters” to process payments anywhere on the floor eliminating long lines.

Dmitry Sokolov, National Retail Lead at HP Inc. says “As shoppers get more discerning about the retail experiences they demand, the bar on retail design and how POS Systems fit into the store layout is getting higher. Mobility solutions are also becoming more integrated into the check-out process with hybrid designs facilitating both fixed and mobile use cases becoming increasingly popular.”

Forward-thinking retail businesses seek ways to decrease not merely actual wait time, but also develop approaches to minimize perceived wait time.

We live in a world where the customer experience reigns supreme.

Providing consumers an exceptional service experience is a critical necessity that retailers should never consider as an option.

With the uptake of online reviews and rating, a good customer review can influence a retailer’s conversation rates up to 270%, accordingly to a study by Adweek. Tech savvy retailers capture instant feedback with in-store mobile devices and apps.

A business service model that is well-informed, adaptive and coherent to customer needs is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful retail business. A customer experience that approaches each customer as an individual ultimately maintains higher satisfaction and loyalty levels.

When it comes to customer experience, are you positioned to win? If you’re not sure or want to learn more, let’s have a conversation.

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