I always feel the rush of excitement when it comes to shopping. Whether it’s that something special to enhance my home’s interior. Or my annual vacation package. Or a pair of custom designer shoes that will add a perfect dash of sophistication to my business suit. Yes it’s true. Nothing to beat bespoke products and services tailored to suit my lifestyle. I get to craft my vacation itinerary. I can design my own shoes online with personal designs, pictures, or logos. How cool is that?
The good thing is I don’t need to rush to the store to search or understand more about what I am looking for. This is the new reality. And I am fast adapting to it. I no longer see a distinction between searching online and hanging out in a mall. The incredible choice and power I have now helps me make the right decisions about my purchases. I find what I need at the best price, whether through a virtual storefront or in a physical shop. Instant gratification!
The Changing Face of Retail
I know I am not alone. Millions of people enjoy the convenience, breadth of choice, and enticing mix of deals through a variety of channels.
According to eMarketer, retail products and services purchased on the internet will rise to 8.8% of the total retail market globally by 2018, up from 5.9% in 2014.
Like every other industry, retail is changing fast and furiously. And it all boils down to changing consumer tastes and expectations. Any sales agent in your store should agree: Delighting the customer remains the top priority. Selling “experiences” is the new mantra.
With the change in shopping habits and a flurry of new buying channels, you’re likely seeking novel ways to woo customers. Technology is one of those ways.
Technology Transforms the Retail Experience
Novelty and technology are tightly interwoven — especially in today’s world of ubiquitous connectivity, shifting consumer demographics, and explosion of consumer data. If we go by Frost & Sullivan’s prediction, by 2025 we will see more than 700 million tablets, 3.7 billion smartphones, and 410 smart appliances in the connected person’s world. There will be rich opportunities to reach a much larger consumer audience and understand how they live and shop.
More and more retailers are adopting collaboration technologies to provide that “delightful” experience. To excite consumer senses. And to innovate and remain profitable. The business benefits are large as these technologies in the long run help you to:
- Increase revenue
- Build integrated customer experiences
- Recruit and retain quality talent
- Improve employee productivity
The worlds of offline and online commerce are beginning to converge. The brick-and-mortar are extending their storefronts to the virtual world. Embracing technology to transform the experience. And offering value-added services attached to a product.
Picture this. You start your shopping experience on your home TV.
- You select a dress your favorite model is wearing. You then start a video conference with the personal concierge at your favorite retailer.
- The concierge suggests two options and superimposes them on your avatar. You like one, send a copy of the image to your friend for an opinion. She likes it too.
- You then check out reviews, toggle to check other retailers, find a better price, and buy it online from a different retailer.
- Since the dress is available in-store, you prefer to drive to a store near you, rather than wait three days to receive it.
- On your way to the store, you decide to pick up some groceries. You enter the food section and receive a new recipe idea with a value-added offer on your mobile: “Join our 3 week new cooking classes.”
- You click to sign up for the classes, purchase your groceries, and drive to the store to pick up your dress.
Now that’s what I call a collaborative, personalized, interactive shopping experience. Does it just blow your mind? Or can you already provide those experiences for your customers?
Smart retailers are recognizing the opportunities that lie in digital and collaboration technologies. Some examples:
- Talbots, a leading women’s retailer in Boston, enhances customer experience with easy-to-use and consistent care across channels, including live web chat and call centers.
- Universal Motors Agencies, in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, improves responsiveness with cohesive customer information access. It also used collaboration applications to reduce travel costs by 40%, IT costs by 30%, and increase employee satisfaction by 20%.
- The U.K.’s John Lewis encouraged adoption of collaboration tools to promote innovation and increase employee productivity.
“By connecting more effectively with customers, we can build loyalty and enduring relationships.” – Wes Powell, Talbots
Create the True Omnichannel Experience
With digital weaving itself deeper into the fabric of your customers’ lives, I am sure you’re making the most of new opportunities. Focus on human nature. Your customer simply wants to make a purchase through the best or most convenient route. Be it your website, your outlet, a chat with your virtual expert, a check of online reviews, friends on social media, or a mix of the above. How are you making it happen?
- Are you seeking new ways to provide a simple experience?
- Are you thinking of how to interweave digital tools like mobile, context, and video with sales, marketing, and customer service?
- Do you want to make the technology invisible to your customers – to keep the focus on your products and their needs?
You can create that magic. Use customer-care solutions to engage today’s mobile, omnichannel consumer to:
- Build long-term connections
- Collaborate effectively with employees and improve productivity
- Gather data on shopper behavior and operations
- Provide new options for delivery and returns that support your customers’ shopping desires
- Maintain security to protect your shoppers
- Lower operating costs by reducing complexity and increasing efficiency
According to Forbes, technology will be the new sales assistant by 2020. From in-store mapping, to beacon technology, and products to manage infrastructure, you can embrace more and more technology to assist in the sales process.
So, what are you waiting for? Create the space to activate your consumers’ emotions, interactions, and love for your brand.
Explore how collaboration technology can help you meet your retail challenges with the Collaboration Use Case Tool.
If you have a story to share on how you are using collaboration technology to improve the shopping experience for your customers, we would love to hear about it. Tell your story and help others learn from it.