Presenting our 3rd part of the “Retail Week Series”, today, we bring you a critical aspect of Retail where we lay emphasis on Technology and how it must serve every customer’s purpose. The article would be of immense help to all retailers, eCommerce firms, technology players and budding entrepreneurs in incorporating technologies for running a successful Retail business.
Technology has provided retail brands with a plethora of in-store and online data. But the question is “What to do with it all”. Instead of simply mining this data endlessly, retailers should be asking the right questions about their data – what gaps are missing in the shopping process? How can they implement new technologies both online and offline to streamline the shopping experience?
Use of Analytics
One way of extracting real insight from data is by understanding that, for many customers, the shopping experience is often a multi-channel one. The ubiquity and intuitiveness of smart-phones means that shoppers are often armed with them while shopping in-store. With this knowledge in mind, retailers can use in-store analytics to identify tech savvy customers and ascertain how to better serve them.
More retail brands should use in-store analytics to assess customers’ behavior and shopping patterns, which in turn, will inform how they integrate technology into their bricks-and-mortar stores. By doing this, retail brands can ensure that new technology solutions will improve the shopping experience and fill any gaps in the shopping process.
Retailers can meet customers’ expectations by making strategic investments in technology, engaging in data analysis and carefully managing their various digital channels. Many shoppers are conditioned to feel satisfied if a retailer is able to solve their problems on even a basic level in a reasonable amount of time. When retailers are able to go above and beyond this level of service, they can create a real competitive advantage for themselves. But this next-generation customer service takes thoughtful planning, and retailers must also be careful not to overstep the invisible boundaries that will make customers feel as though a store is watching and tracking them, rather than helping.
Next-generation customer service starts the minute a customer walks into a store, and continues long after a sale has been made. Once a customer has brought a product home, retailers can continue to provide next-generation customer service with a solid presence across self-help channels that customers use, including social media and web searches. Retailers should also monitor online communities and forums to engage with customers who post questions and concerns. Tools such as click-to-chat or click-to-call should be supported across channels — including text, voice and video — to give customers multiple ways to engage with a company.
Pay Heed to Digital Divide
Retailers must remember that not all of their customers are ready to utilize all of the technology tools they’re able to offer. In India, a substantial digital divide remains between some consumers and others, largely following generational lines. Many Indians still don’t have a smart-phone or prefer it to shop. In practice, this means that while many shoppers prefer to engage with a retailer’s customer service team over social media, others still want to call the company’s customer contact centre.
Technology Must be Instinctive
Promotional sales frenzies such as Flipkart’s Big Billion Day have illustrated the importance of technology, particularly websites, being effortless and instinctive. Retailers, who have an online service, and brands purely in the ecommerce space must ensure that their sites are slickly designed, mobile-optimized, effortless to navigate and, most importantly, easy to purchase from. Retail brands must ensure that their backend technology is able to meet the demands of online browsers, even during demanding periods such as festive seasons.
Customer service should be organic and seamless to shoppers. But this doesn’t happen by accident. Efforts must be supported by investments in robust, modern infrastructure that can power the connectivity and data analysis needed to provide a personalised customer service experience.