Decoding the Changing Retail Dynamics in “The New Normal”
6 Minutes Read
As we are navigating through this era of disruption brought about by the current global epidemic, most brick and mortar stores are being forced to shut down due to lockdown and subsequently decreased footfall, leading to lost in-store revenue. Retail giants are put to the test to seek new methods and strategies to fulfill business needs, as well as those of their customers. There is no option but to find alternative ways to enhance digital customer experience (CX) as they stay indoors and turn to online shopping to maintain social distancing norms. Besides, sales associates are having a hard time due to store closures.
It’s high time retailers develop a robust store customer experience strategy and adopt and implement effective solutions. The aim here is to bridge the gap between the unknown freezing of the in-store experience and the growing online opportunity. On the one hand, you need to drive customer engagement to create new and unique sales opportunities, and on the other hand, supporting your store associates emerges as a key responsibility.
Dive into this blog to get started.
Leverage Online and Omnichannel Capabilities
Last time when I ordered a product online and paid for it with my credit card, I waited for its delivery for a week due to the ongoing lockdown in my country, only to find later that the product was not in stock. Though I was refunded the entire amount in a couple of minutes, the experience was dissatisfactory. The product, of course, showed “in stock” when I ordered.
This is the tragedy of most eCommerce stores today that they are unable to manage their inventories well. Remember effective inventory management bears a direct correlation with profit. Online businesses need to optimize their digital sales channels to survive and do whatever it takes to improve digital customer experience.
Deliver a personalized experience to your buyers through AI-powered eCommerce platforms. Technology reveals the web pages that consumers browse, what they search for, and buy. Big data analyses can thus help online businesses find information patterns and adjust their retail offerings. Data analytics empowers e-tailers to improve conversions and boost customer loyalty.
Supply chain management is another area that needs maximum attention from online retailers. A few of the quick actions that e-tailers should take across the end-to-end supply chain include:
Create transparency on supply chains at a multi-tier level
Gauge inventory available along the value chain
Evaluate realistic end-user demand
Recognize and secure logistics capacity
Optimize production and distribution capacities
Manage cash as well as net-working capital
Using stores as fulfillment centers: Stores can deliver speed, efficiency, and convenience at the time of fulfilling online orders when the brand has combined its store and web inventories. Brands can thus ship from a store nearest to the consumer as well as enable buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS), and curbside pickup. Doing so will not only help businesses save on high shipping costs across transit zones but also better deal with customers who are doubtful of shopping in person and enable faster deliveries.
If the store becomes the point of sale in the future, an endless aisle transaction will emerge to be a standard operating procedure. “Saving the sale” will help retailers increase their revenues, allowing stores to become personalized and well-curated experience venues. Engaged customers will assess their trips to these stores based on how you offer customer service and attribute their loyalty in the same way.
Promoting remote retail sales: Through remote selling, customers will have access to an expert in their living room. These experts are skilled to deliver personalized, intimate selling experiences to customers, experiences that are synonymous with in-store ones. And then they can unlock fulfillment from across the business.
As e-tailers adopt a remote selling approach, customers will be able to pay in a touchless and secure manner. Shoppers are expected to use digital and mobile payment methods for the long term. Your loyal customers should be able to enjoy a shopping experience that promotes contactless payment and social distancing. This approach is here to stay as footfall declines.
Create Digital Workplaces for Store Associates
Crucial to digital transformation, the digital workplace comprises of all the technologies people utilize to get work done in the workplace of today. This workplace ranges from the core business and HR applications to instant messaging, email, as well as virtual meetings, and enterprise social media tools.
As you create a digital workplace for your remote store associates and offer them support, they help strengthen customer relationships and enhance their brand loyalty. Store associates can maintain one-on-one communication with customers using CX and mobile apps. They share recommendations with customers, help them with cart fulfillment, remote payment, and answer any real-time questions.
Remote working tools enable retail associates to be highly engaged, productive, and efficient while staying connected with customers and their key clients. Higher employee engagement leads to a delightful CX. Digital workplaces, indeed, enable cost savings with a reduction in operational costs. Also, more efficient associates help to cut down on the number of customer support calls.
Promote self-service options
Cutting costs during this global economic downturn is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you need to compromise on retail experience. Improve CX and operational efficiency at the same time by promoting digital self-service options for your customers. As you migrate customers to digital channels, you boost their satisfaction and your business savings. Your retail teams can quickly adopt this customer-centric mindset, including promoting self-serve channels, drastically simplifying a product portfolio, or optimizing service-level agreements (SLAs) with customers.
One of the examples of self-service options is mobile shopping lists. Most grocery shoppers wish to use mobile shopping lists. Mobile apps with built-in ML systems and IoT device connectivity can respond to the personal needs of the shopper. These mobile apps help to predict when the buyer will run out of groceries and reminds him to prepare the shopping list in advance.
Keep a Real-time Track of Varying Customer Tastes and Preferences
Today, it has become more important than ever to understand your customer tastes and preferences. Look for fast and new ways to keep a real-time pulse on consumer sentiment. Social media has been witnessing a surge since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. An increase in online use offers opportunities for businesses to tap into social media insights and develop new ideas based on their understanding of customer preferences. Based on the social behavior of their buyers, businesses can come up with new products and services, or collaborate with brands offering what their consumers want the most at present.
Compunnel Digital partnered with Dori SafeSpace to offer AI computer vision solutions to its clients across the globe. The solution aims to monitor and ensure safety compliance in all industries, including retail.
Build Agility in Innovation
Building agility across different functions of your business enterprise to tackle varying customer situations is indispensable and has long-lasting advantages. Accelerate time-to-market to develop new retail customer experiences, quickly prototype and iterate, and release innovations at least in their “minimum viable state”. There are test-and-scale labs that enable organizations to build a new and unique CX with at least a 50% increase in speed to market.
Besides adopting agile approaches, organizations should be fast at examining their innovation pipeline to prioritize digital customer experiences that are well-aligned with digital, remote, and home delivery trends. You should also know how to overcome the challenges that come in the way of Chief Innovation Officers (CINOs) scaling innovation. Doing so will continue to speed up market deliverables and differentiate CX providers in the post coronavirus world.
Do You Have a Winning CX?
Enterprises should commit themselves to creating a diverse landscape of online and offline customer touchpoints. Only then can they seek in-depth consumer insights, such as their buying habits, personal preferences, including current as well as potential future trends. Use the rich reserves of data you gathered during the pandemic for more effective customer journey mapping. Transform challenges into a foundation for better channel integration, future product and service improvements, exceptional shopping experiences, and ultimately retail success.
Customer experience in the retail sector has indeed assumed a new dimension and definition. Customer leaders who care and innovate now and anticipate well how customer habits change will succeed in strengthening their relationships and nurturing them even when the crisis is over.
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