The nature of customer support and service is changing. Fast.
How is it changing? Technology is shifting how merchants interact with customers more rapidly than ever before. Trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices and new approaches to knowledge management mean that merchants have a lot of their plates when it comes to evolving consumer expectations.
To maintain a successful business, retailers must embrace the emerging omnichannel world. Creating unique customer experiences and standing apart from competitors across multiple channels while personalizing for each customer using big data is like the new call to action — it’s a critical component to driving business results.
The omnichannel approach comes with significant advantages for retailers as well. They are now more able to target customers at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Retailers can leverage the power of marketplaces and search engines.
There are strategies retailers can use to respond to these emergent trends effectively. Here’s a bit more on exactly how retailers can win in this new business environment.
How Technology is Reshaping Customer Experiences in Retail
Over two-thirds of retailers say that they’ll use IoT to improve their customer experiences. As retailers strive to embrace IoT fully, they will need partners that can not only sell and implement the technology—but also support it, including the evolving landscape of integrations and connected devices that constitute the IoT.
The goal for retailers?
Seamless shopping experiences for customers. When 80% of consumers are using a smartphone while shopping to look for items and compare prices, retailers are looking for ways to address customer satisfaction that arises from out-of-stock products or cheaper products at other retailers.
Smart retailers like Macy’s are turning to location-based marketing that uses beacons to send customers special discounts, events, and other marketing messages based on their location proximity. Such technology can be used in-store as well as by direct-to-consumer retailers for retargeting.
A bit more upstream, IoT can help a great deal with the supply chain. This is huge for customer experience because a surefire way to lose customers is to run out of stock or not have the right product on-hand for them. IoT is increasing the use of GPS sensors, RFID, smart shelves, and temperature sensors to help retailers gain more control over and insights into their supply chains.
Getting products to customers faster, making sure you never run out of stock, and tracking how products are handled is a great way to use technology to ensure top quality experiences for customers.
Some retailers are already integrating robots into their daily business activities.
From passing information to customers, self-checkout, and completing in-store stock checks, robots are poised to influence the retail industry in big and small ways. Retailers that successfully build them into their workflows are poised to gain a competitive advantage.
As an example, Target uses robots to spot products that are misplaced and alert staff when items are out of stock. Using robots for simple tasks such as these can allow employees to focus on improving customer experiences.
Chatbots are having a moment right now. At their best, they can make customer service interactions more seamless. But they don’t come without their quirks, as you might have experienced.
The good news is that the advantages tend to outweigh the drawbacks of these new retail tools. The best aspects of chatbots are clear for retailers:
- They’re omnichannel and can be deployed wherever your customers are
- Chatbots enabling texting with customers, which has been proven to be more effective than even email marketing or social media
- They keep customers engaged and engaged customers to spend more
- Chatbots are fast and proactive about notifications for customers, which they love
- They allow for ongoing and instant feedback from customers
Savvy retailers can certainly leverage chatbots to reach more customers in more timely and effective ways with a focus on improving their buying experiences.
Enhancing Omnichannel Customer Experiences through Retail Technology
When it comes to winning the future in retail, it’s all about more meaningful customer experiences and opening up new sales channels and revenue streams.
The technology discussed above helps retailers make those big leaps. When you get past the jargon and get down to what IoT can do to improve customer experiences significantly, you can see why retailers are jumping on these trends.
From monitoring customer responses to price changes and testing current pricing strategies to offering enriching support services and personalizing sales experiences for customers, the time is now to put IoT to work for your brand as part of a larger omnichannel strategy.
Alan Finlay is a Co-Founder of Boomtown