If we want our UK high street to prosper, retailers need to seriously think about the needs of their customers and improve their services accordingly. The sad news of BHS going into administration, has given a timely reminder of the pitfalls for those who are unable to stay relevant in the digital era.
According to Fujitsu’s Digital Inside Out research, one in four consumers will always choose a digital option in retail.
On top of this, the report found over a fifth of consumers (21%) prefer face-to-face as their first choice in the shopping experience. So, while the retail landscape has never been more digital or mobile, we are seeing a significant demand from customers for a blend of digital and face-to-face services.
An example of this is John Lewis recently launched its new smart home experience. The company has understood this need from its customers to have physical experiences as well as shopping around online before they make a purchase.
If retailers are to follow by example, they need to create a more seamless, efficient and personalised customer experience in store. This is about utilising digital services to maximise services and maintain customer interest and loyalty. One way to do this is by utilising in-store analytics, as a way of bringing the digital and face-to-face services together.
Making the most of your very own ‘crystal ball’
By predicting behaviour, the customer retail experience becomes much smoother. The foresight that data analytics can provide can act as retailers own real-time ‘crystal ball’ which will enable them to analyse trends, and forecast how many people will be in store and when.
Retailers who apply this principle to previous shopping data, alongside data points such as customer footfall; weather; and other influential factors will be able to plan for these peak points. This information can also be used to map out where best to allocate their products in store for the best customer journey.
On a more local scale, retailers can even look at these maps for each store independently, catering to each store’s individual demographic. As a result they’re able to encourage upselling of other items, providing a more helpful (and therefore enhanced) customer experience.
To take this a step further, stores can be more reactive to trends and can be adapted at any time. Analytics also provide retailers with the tools to best utilise their staff, as such as predicting peak times and customer flows. If they’re better equipped to plan for busy periods and reduce queues, even if just by a few minutes, that makes things much better for a customer in-store.
The technology at the disposal of retailers is evolving at a rapid pace.
With a clear appetite for face-to-face services still present in the UK, retailers need to harness the data that they can aggregate on their customers to deliver a personalised experience instore, mirroring that which they can receive online.
In a world that is dramatically advancing digitally, retailers need to harness these technologies if they are to keep up with customer demands and their competitors who are making these moves to stay relevant.
Find out more about Fujitsu’s Connected Retail.
Image credit: Timo Kuusela (via Flickr Creative Commons)
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