Lately, I have gained even more respect for the retail business. The level of flexibility required in the current situation is unprecedented. Luckily, most retailers already had an e-commerce platform and were able to make a quick shift. However, there will be a time consumers come back to the physical store to enjoy the unique experience it offers, and hopefully this is sooner rather than later. Yet, now that people are used to digital journeys, how can you merge the best of the two worlds in your approach towards your customers?
To protect the sustainable future of retail, the fusion of the digital and offline channels is essential. In orrder to maximize profits from your physical store, as soon as it may open again, you need to deep dive into making the customer experience consistent across all channels.
One single platform
Innovative solutions make sure that the digital and offline customers journey are being merged more and more. Within this process, ‘digital’ is getting a wider meaning. Namely: serving customers through digital channels via interactive apps, instore tools, video platform and more. In this way, the customer can be supported in the way and moment that it fits him or her best.
“When different databases and systems are being used across differrent departments, it becomes almost impossible to offer a similar customer experience at all different touchpoints.”
To set this up properly, it is important to think from a single platform. This is contrary to what we experience at many retailers, who use different systems and databases per (digital) location or department. When different databases and systems are being used across differrent departments, it becomes almost impossible to offer a similar customer experience at all different touchpoints. For example, when data about search queries is stored in a database at the BI department which your marketing team does not have access to, you miss out on a powerful personalization opportunity. By centralizing your data collection, a uniform and personal approach via all possible touch points within the complete customer journey is much easier to realize.
High quality interactions and loyal customers
The share of sales that originate digitally has been on a steady rise over the last decade, and the pandemic has only strengthened this effect. Before Covid, we already saw that within digital and offline customer journeys, the amount of touch points was increasing. The modern consumer spends more time in the information collection process, and take more time before they decide to purchase. The order takes place at the customer’s convenience even the delivery is often planned based on personal wishes.
An increase in digital sales, which also happens a physical stores, is a positive development for retailers. It results in an increase in quantity ánd quality of the amount of interactions. This means you gather more data, which will allow you to then offer proactive customer service and personalization.
“When you make smart use of the possibilities of digitization, you can significantly reduce your entrepreneurial risk”
Decrease of entrepreneurial risks
When you make full use the possibilities of digitization, you might require less stock in your stores. This decreases the entrepreneurial risks, which is a pleasant bonus during these stressful times. With the help of machine learning, you can predict your customer behavior more efficiently. Besides that, products can be ordered digitally on the spot via the instore app and be delivered that same day. This makes your company more scalable, whilst maintaining the possibility to still deliver personalized service. Stores become more like showrooms and less like stockwarehouses this way.
What can you do?
An excellent example of where the best of the digital and offline worlds merge, is clienteling. With clienteling technology, you can connect offline and online customer data, like purchase history, search behaviour and details of product preferences. It also provides you with the following opportunities:
- Instore employees gain direct insights into the stock on their mobile devices and are able to digitally order products on the spot.
- Personalized insights into past online and offline behaviour of the customer.
- Upsell opportunities through digiital insights into the best recommended items for customers.
We foresee a future where more and more companies are working from one single digital platform that included all channels and customer touchpoints. As less different systems are used for different purposes, you can create a more seamless experience in serving these customers. This means that the digital and offline customer journeys will eventually merge seamlessly.
The unique, physical experience of shopping will never disappear. Consumers do have the need for the feeling that shopping gives them. Customers want to be able to touch, feel and try certain products. That offline experience is difficult to replicate within an e-commerce environment. However, you can bring the ease of digital shopping to the offline world.
The instore experience will therefore digitalize more and more over time. Think about checkouts, where you are now able to pay with using your phone almost everywhere. Instore apps will be playing a much bigger role from now on, in which all up-to-data data is provided. Within the digitization of the customer journey, the best of both worlds is leading to a completely new world, with the focus on loyal customers.
Interested in the way we can unburden you in digitizing the complete customer journey? Contact us for an open inspiration and discovery meeting.