You know all about how “informed” and “knowledgeable” and “demanding” consumers are these days. Gone are the days when people would go to a store, completely unaware of the products available, and rely on the stores associates’ knowledge and advice to select an item. Today, consumers investigate the products they are interested in on multiple websites; they check user reviews; they compare items of different brands; and only then do they visit a store to see (and perhaps buy) the item.
Many retailers have been slow to adapt to this sea change; but adapt they must. The good news is that there are plenty of technologies available that can help you fulfill your customers’ expectations. Here are five common customer demands – and the technology that can help.
“I want to be able to shop when I want, where I want”
People are used to shopping whenever they feel like it, wherever they happen to be. Opening hours don’t mean anything anymore: people may check a price on the loyalty app while waiting in a queue, or place an order on your e-commerce site while relaxing on the sofa in the evening.
The solution: Today, retailers must be omni-channel. This means you need to have a functional e-commerce site – which also works on mobiles! (You would be surprised to know how many companies still build websites that are not responsive). To keep your business connected across the channels, and offer a consistent shopping experience, implement an omni-channel management system. This kind of software enables you to enter information (for example prices, product pictures and descriptions, or details of offers and promotions) just once in the back office. The system then takes care of updating the e-commerce site, the Point of Sale devices in the stores and the loyalty app, ensuring that information is always consistent throughout your business.
“I want it delivered here”
The times when customers would happily run from store to store in order to fetch a specific item are over. Today, they expect you to take care of getting the item to them when and where they prefer. This means, for example, that you must be able to deliver products from your e-commerce site to the customer’s favorite address (this includes your store locations!) and at a precise time (no one wants to be stuck at home waiting for a delivery that will arrive “between 2 pm and 9 pm”). In-store, you must have the visibility into your other store locations, and be able to have items shipped across stores, or even straight the customer’s address.
The solution: When your whole chain uses the same management system, and the POS can look into inventory across stores, it’s easy for your staff members to look up product availability in other store locations and order specific items. On your e-commerce site, implement click & collect: not only is it a popular service – it’s also good for business. According a to 2016 OnePoll research on 2,000 shoppers, 65 percent of customers using click & collect end up making extra purchases when they go pick up their order in store.
“I want your brand to recognize me”
No one likes to be treated like a number. Today people interact with retailers across different channels, and they expect to be recognized as loyal customers no matter if they enter your shop’s doors or ask a question about their order on your Facebook page. According to a research by Accenture, 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that knows their purchase history, recommends options based on past purchases, or recognizes them by name.
The solution: Implement a loyalty program. It will increase engagement, and contemporarily enable you to collect your customers’ preferences and shopping history and use them to send them personalized product suggestions and offers. Don’t forget to make your program omni-channel: your customers will be able to collect and spend points whether they buy from you in-store or online – and you will be able to keep track of all of your customers’ interactions with you, no matter which channel they use to shop. Better yet, also offer a loyalty app that your customers can use to shop, receive offers and track their purchases and points.
“I don’t want to queue”
Today’s consumers are busy and impatient: they don’t want to waste their time waiting in line, no matter if it is to wait for service or to pay for their items. A customer survey conducted by Box Technologies and Intel in the UK revealed that nine out of ten shoppers avoid stores with long queues. 70 percent of the respondents in the survey also said that they might not return to a store if they had to wait there in a queue for a long time. In other words, let your customers wait for too long, and chances are they will take their business elsewhere.
The solution: If long lines are a problem you face in your store, mobile POS is the technology you need. A mobile Point of Sale can cut queues for customers waiting for service, as staff members can find all the information they need about products on the spot, on their mobile device. By enabling sales associates to close sales and accept payments anywhere on the shop floor, mPOS also reduce queues at the register.
“I want product recommendations that matter to me”
People have gotten used to e-commerce sites recognizing them, and offering recommendations and suggestions for products they might be interested in based on their preferences and purchase history. Consumers have come to expect physical stores to know them and their tastes as well as e-commerce stores do. So far, physical stores have had to rely on their sales assistants for this role. However, as inventory expands and customers increasingly shop on multiple channels, it becomes harder and harder for sales assistants to be able to know each customer and give meaningful recommendations.
The solution: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an increasingly affordable technology that can be implemented in-store to generate customer recommendations on the POS. This kind of system uses purchase data from the specific customer and combines it with the purchases of customers with similar tastes to produce relevant product recommendations that the staff can then convey to the customer in the form of a personal suggestion. Products like LS Recommend bring together shopping behavior from all of the retailer’s channels, increasing the basket size for the retailer while giving customers the personalized interaction with the brand that they demand.
Technology is an investment – but one that pays off when it comes to breeding loyalty with today’s demanding consumers. If your current system doesn’t meet consumers’ expectations, don’t fret! Contact our experts and learn how you can upgrade your system to meet your, and your customers’, needs.