Anyone who thinks the high street is dead is looking at things the wrong way.
It isn’t dying. It’s changing. And technology is at the heart of that transformation.
But the key to success in this increasingly competitive industry lies in using that technology in the right way, creating an end-to-end managed service that empowers retail staff to deliver the best possible customer experience at all times.
Here’s how you can achieve that…
- Connecting online and offline channels
The reason you hear so many people talking about the importance of customer experience is simple: in a world where price and product are increasingly tough to compete on, the customer experience may well be your only true differentiator.
Connecting online and offline channels is one way to help create that seamless experience consumers have come to expect, whether they’re on your website, in one of your stores, logged in to the loyalty app or talking to a customer service advisor.
And part of it comes down to ensuring that retail store associates have everything they need to support a customer who has come to the store from an online channel.
From the customer’s search history on your ecommerce store to the contents of their online shopping basket, the right information can help in-store employees create that seamless experience for you.
That said: as with any data-led approach, you need to take a balanced approach. Some customers will naturally be more open to this kind of personalised service than others.
- Increasing speed of change
When it comes to competing in the digital age, speed is always of the essence. And this is especially true in retail.
There is an increasing need for implementing new functionalities in retail stores. Some of it is necessary to keep up to date with new regulation, some helps you stay ahead of the competition, and much of it comes from a simple need to answer customer demands.
And implementing new technology quicker could actually have a positive financial impact over time, as it tends to create more efficiency.
But there is an interesting paradox here in that the more technology changes you make, the higher the risk of something going wrong.
This is, of course, a risk worth taking. More than that: to avoid change altogether is simply not an option.
The answer, then, is to transform in a secure and controlled way – ideally working with a trusted partner that has the expertise you need.
- Keeping in-store tools updated
Much of the technology that the retail industry will need tomorrow is not even on our radar today, and your approach to planning for the future has to reflect that.
You need a strong framework that will allow you to quickly and flexibly add new technology and touch points over time, without the need to know what they are months in advance.
And if your business has multiple stores across multiple locations and countries, you need to be able to roll those changes out safely on a mass scale.
This is where many retailers tend to fall down. It’s one thing testing out a new functionality in a single store. But as soon as you start trying to replicate that across many different sites, you need to have the right people and the right systems in place to support that – or else things can fall down very quickly.
At Fujitsu that’s ingrained into our everyday process. We’re always think through every possible eventuality and then test, test and test again.
- Empowering employees to better serve customers
I mentioned earlier that your employees can create a fantastic customer experience for you if you empower them with the right tools and knowledge.
One of the most effective ways to do that is providing them with data: the information they need to have the right kind of conversation with their customers at the right time.
But effective use of data is all about timing. And if you try to collect all of it manually you’re going to end up missing the best opportunities to use it. An automated data analytics system is therefore essential.
And when you think about all the data retailers have been collecting over the years across various touch points, there is already an incredibly rich ecosystem of information to draw from.
To get true value from it you need a way to present the right data, in the right way, and ensure it’s always up to date – making it as useful as possible to the people serving your customers.
- Creating one simple point of contact
With so many touch points and so many offices, speaking to the right person or finding the right information can be confusing for both customers and staff.
To meet today’s expectations, you need to simplify things to just one point of contact: one place employees can turn to for advice about in-store technology.
Traditionally this would have been the service desk, but today it could be anything from a virtual bot powered by artificial intelligence to an augmented reality app on a mobile device.
It’s also important to recognise and manage geographical differences. The way somebody describes a problem could vary significantly depending on who or where they are.
If people find the service doesn’t work for them, they will grow frustrated. Or worse: stop using it altogether.
If you’re a retailer looking for help with any or all of the above, our Total Managed Store can help you succeed.
Get in touch today to find out more.
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