This holiday season customers have more ways to shop than ever before. Retailers are making it easier to get the right presents by providing enhanced delivery options – from buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) to curbside pickup. While this freedom is empowering for customers, it creates a new level of complexity for retailers as seen by the hurdles experienced this holiday season. As this complexity becomes the new normal, the retailers that will thrive are those who deliver a consistent branded shopping experience across all channels.
No retailer has yet fully mastered the seamless omnichannel experience, but a few are well on their way:
Nordstrom gives customers access to advice from their favorite sales associate anytime through their TextStyle program. If a customer needs a personalized recommendation, a sales associate can scan an item, provide a photo and brief description, and send them a buying code via text. Once a customer types “buy,” the sale is charged to their preferred credit card and sent to the shipping address that’s on file.
Kohl’s is seeing success with its mobile app which provides a consistent experience by allowing customers to access their virtual shopping bag, available loyalty points, and promotions while shopping in-store or online.
Coach does a fantastic job of integrating channels by allowing customers online to search in-store inventory in their area for the specific product they want. When a customer completes the purchase in store, the associate sends them a follow up email that includes personalized recommendations to encourage repeat purchases.
The shopping experience demanded in today’s competitive climate needs to be seamless. Retailers can be successful by creating one digital platform and pushing content and functionality across multiple channels, instead of trying to integrate a portfolio of different assets.
One way retailers can start is to repurpose content from their online and mobile properties and bring it into the store using digital signage and tablets. This allows them to test which content increases conversions and apply changes instantly across multiple stores.
And content isn’t the only thing that can be duplicated across channels. Retailers can scale shopper engagement through digital experiences in the store. By using digital capabilities like remote expert, retailers can continuously offer high levels of service and expertise in a way that isn’t dependent on in-store staffing. Promotions can also be offered in real-time to improve conversion or maintain competitive pricing.
Retailers should evaluate each step in the shopper journey and assess where digitization can improve the experience. They should also consider making use of the data that comes from digitizing those steps to make better decisions on what’s working and what isn’t.
While retailers have access to a mountain of data from online and mobile shopping journeys, they have a big opportunity to gather data from the in-store experience. Retailers will get a full picture of each customer’s journey when they combine data across all channels and build processes that allow them to deliver the right experience at the right time – whether shorter checkout, personalized assistance, or more relevant promotions. At Cisco we’re building the most advanced IOT solution in the industry by giving retailers access to information in the store that they can apply online and share across all channels.
What strategies do you think will be effective for creating seamless customer experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
For more innovative retail strategies, see our Top 10 list of how you can create the ultimate shopping experience:
Tags: BOPUS, Cisco, customer, data, digitization, experience, inventory, IoT, Kathryn Howe, mobile, mobility, retail, shopper
I thought I’d point out some new page designs on Cisco.com that should make it easier to find and understand information about solutions from Cisco. First, there’s the new main Solutions page, which is a one-stop starting point:
(Note that we’re trying out different versions of this page, so the version you see may differ slightly.)
You’ll also start to see some rich pages with extensive details on specific solutions, tying together products, services and more. A great example of this is the Cisco Unified Access solution page:
(We’ve blurred some of the content at the bottom, because it’s just available to Partners and select others. But it shows how a good design can support specific personalized and entitled views. We’ve been following this entitled approach regularly in product and solution areas, because it means we can offer extra information to specific audiences, without going the old fashioned route of building and maintaining separate microsites.)
Nice work by our design, publishing, and content teams!
Tags: cisco.com, design, experience, Solutions
You might know that many companies run “tests” in their web and mobile experiences, where they’ll pit one design, layout, or content set against another. It’s a way to see quickly which one works best. For instance, you might have one page with a slick graphic at the top, vs another one with text and a form at the top, to see which one gets the best interaction and form completion. At Cisco, we’ve been doing this at a component level for a while, and have begun to do these kinds of test with whole pages on Cisco.com. These tests help us understand which of two experiences is the easiest and most straightforward to use, and then we can apply that knowledge to our page designs in general.
But, it’s easy to over-complicate testing, which can lead sometimes to results that are hard to interpret or that generate too much data that can’t be readily analyzed. So, I asked our team on the Digital Support Experience to give us their best practices for how to plan page vs page tests the right way. Here are some great tips from the teams:
- Identify your success metrics (“Overall Evaluation Criteria,” see below) at the beginning of your planning, so you can make clear the #1 thing your are optimizing for.
- Establish Baseline performance for the KPIs/success metrics before you start the test. (understand where you’re starting from — how were things performing before the test?)
- Before the experiment starts, state what will happen if the test a) succeeds, b) is inconclusive, c) fails.
- Don’t do two new competing designs for A and B. A better model is to use the current design as “A” and a new design as “B” so you have a good control group.
- Limit the number of variables that differ between the two versions.
- Let the experiment run long enough to get a volume of data on the key items that will yield statistical confidence in the result.
- Validate setup with an “A/A” test. The purpose of this is to check that your “system” for branching the users isn’t itself adding in a bias. (If you do a split of incoming users and you are directing them to pages that are exactly the same and you don’t get equal results, then your A/B branching system is adding bias itself.)
Overall Evaluation Criteria
“Overall Evaluation Criterion (OEC) forces you to ask the question: “what are you optimizing for?”
To do it right, only one OEC (think KPI) should be specified for your test. The reason for just one criterion is that multiple criteria can lead to muddy results. Version A improved KPI #1 but version B improved KPI #2 so which one was better? Therefore, it’s crucial to to specify one and only one KPI and optimize for that.
And, an Ultra-Tip
Perhaps the top tip of all is to improve your designs, content, and journeys based on the tests that you run. And, if you don’t understand why a particular experience is performing in a certain way, it’s probably time to supplement your A/B testing with some observational usability tests, so you can watch users interact with (and comment on) the experience they’re having. Test similar experiences on other sites, too, and you’ll a fuller picture.
What Do You Think?
Have you been running A/B and other kinds of tests on your digital experiences? What tips would you offer to your colleagues?
Tags: digital, experience
There’s a simple new Wireless Products Selector on Cisco.com that we hope will make it quicker to choose the right wireless product for you. It’s right at the top of our Wireless products page:
This leads to a very simple, intuitive tool that guides you to choosing the right wireless access point or wireless LAN controller:
Feel free to take it for a spin!
Tags: digital experience, experience, usability, wireless
Many highly successful companies have a common characteristic- their customer care strategy is supportive of, and in alignment with, their corporate brand strategy, often driving to provide a consistent customer care experience, irrespective of the channel used for customer engagement.
Customers’ expectations and demands are growing and changing rapidly. Customers today are different from yesterday. They want to be helped quickly, efficiently, and on their terms. Businesses must learn to successfully deliver against these customer expectations.
Cisco’s broad partner ecosystem plays a pivotal role in helping businesses achieve these desired outcomes. This includes delighting their customers, and winning (and keeping) new business. Cisco collaborates every day with hundreds of established partners who have a wealth of experience and expertise in the customer care industry and our solutions. As trusted advisors, Cisco’s channel partners are positioned to deliver unique value-add services.
Along with our partners, Cisco makes tremendous investments in our partner ecosystem and our shared momentum continues to build. We recently hosted Cisco Customer Collaboration Sales Summits in the Americas and in Europe, bringing together over a thousand partners, developers, and Cisco sales experts to learn and share best practices. Read More »
Tags: Cisco, collaboration, customer, experience, sales summit