The Ever-Changing Expectations of Customer Experience
Retailers know the strain of trying to satisfy customers in a world where people favor convenience, instant gratification, and personalization. The convenience factor plays a significant role — particularly during high-volume cycles when checkout queues get long, inventory and schedules get tight, and even tempers get short.
More and more, the retail experience is trending away from traditional behaviors of going to a store, browsing, finding something that may or may not be what a customer needs, standing in line, checking out with physical cash, then potentially having to return the item later. Customers want a seamless, personalized experience, and companies are starting to catch on to what that takes.
But this by no means implies that the physical store is dead. It’s just evolving.
Retail mobility solutions are helping help organizations enhance the customer experience by streamlining logistics, shortening long lines, providing multiple payment options, and creating clear signage and information, among other applications. And the best part is, it’s not all or nothing. Depending on a company’s culture, size, budget, goals, and supply chain complexity, a customized combination of solutions is available to meet any organization’s needs.
Mobility solutions aren’t just the future of retail operations — they’re being integrated into organizations now. Take Best Buy, for example. They’ve been ahead of the multichannel retail game for a while, but are now putting tablets in their sales associates hands and having several of them on the sales floor to engage with customers during the shopping experience, potentially influencing them at the point of consideration rather than just at the point of purchase.
Shoppers are using a variety of avenues to make purchases from mobile apps to voice-activated virtual assistants to traditional stores. What makes the difference for them? Often, it’s the ease of shopping with a particular brand: How does a company make their customer experience pain-free, personalized and convenient? How are they extending the four walls of a store to be where their customers are? Is it easy to find what they need? Are they able to make purchases whenever, wherever and however they want?
Here are eight ways retail mobility solutions help brands stay ahead of the game and create a better customer experience.
In-store Customer Experience for the brick-and-mortar shoppers
1. Digital Signage
Digital signs are used for really anything the imagination drums up, including ads, videos, and traditional in-store messages. Coupled with digital signage software, retailers are creating interactive, enticing digital signage that encourages foot traffic, up-selling and cross-selling, social proof, try-before-you-buy options, and much more. Even a sprinkle of ads in the mix is helping retailers with ROI quickly, as vendors will pay to have their content featured on the digital signage.
2. Price Checking
Tags come off, sale prices and discounts get confusing, or sometimes eyesight factors into whether a customer actually knows how much they’ll be paying for an item. Something as simple as an employee walking around with a mobile price scanner or setting up digital price-checking kiosks are retail mobility solutions that will help clarify a shopping experience.
There are now apps available for customers to scan a product’s UPC code and pull up prices directly on their own mobile devices. And more and more often, consumers are either researching an item online first to find the best price for it, or they’re researching prices from multiple outlets when they see something in-store that they like. Retail mobility solutions give companies the opportunity to offer promotions, discounts or messaging when customers are digitally comparing prices on products they sell.
3. Point of Sale (POS) Systems
They’re not called cash registers anymore because quite frankly, a lot more goes into the process of purchasing goods these days. Loyalty programs, discounts, and digital receipts are common on the consumer side, while employees use POS systems for clocking in, scanning barcodes, tracking sales, looking up inventory, and more. Modern POS systems to take the customer experience a step further by enabling customized coupons and marketing retargeting campaigns, and accepting multiple forms of payment, particularly those that use key injection for enhanced payment security measures. Furthermore, by analyzing customer data gathered at POS systems, a better experience is delivered in subsequent encounters. A good POS system becomes a digital hub for all factors of sales interactions.
4. Custom Ads at Checkout
All the technology that’s used to track purchases (online, in-app, and in-store), scan prices, and assist customers will collect and store data on those individuals and their purchase habits and behaviors. Big data and analytics companies such as Como are integrating that information into a retailer’s POS to enable customized advertisements at checkout. Retailers should personalize the experience for customers by promoting similar or complementing items based on their past purchases.
Not everyone likes the face-to-face experience they get with store employees, even if the company’s staff are the friendliest folks on Earth. Whether a customer is in a hurry, not in the mood for upselling awkwardness, or is simply an introvert, self-checkout will be an appealing option.
Mobile self-checkout is the younger, cooler sibling of traditional self-checkout, and is even easier for customers (and associates). There are now apps that give customers the opportunity to scan a product’s UPC code on their mobile device, add the item to their shopping cart and pay within the app, skip the lines altogether and walk out of the store. Sam’s Club has been doing this with their Scan & Go app since 2016.
6. Line Busting
No one likes long lines. Just thinking about them brings anxiety to any shopper, particularly those on a tight schedule, or someone with a kid in tow that may not have the patience to wait quietly. Retail mobility reduce wait time in several ways. During high-volume seasons, additional employees should be given mobile checkout systems to literally walk around and check customers out wherever they are in the store. Coupled with enhanced POS devices and mobile self-checkout, people move through faster and lines become manageable. And as in the previous example, lines may be eliminated completely through mobile self-checkout apps.
Digital Customer Experience for the tech-savvy buyers
7. Mobile App Management
More and more consumers are taking advantage of the benefits, customized shopping experiences, and convenience of retail mobile apps. The apps that perform the best are the ones that are easy to use and provide real value to customers through seamless integration with loyalty programs, online shopping, and in-store shopping. Retailers should take advantage of beacons to create proximity messaging to app users for exclusive discounts, sales, and events, or customized marketing messages that pop up when the person is near the store.
8. Omnichannel Capabilities
The golden goose of retail is a valuable, well-executed omnichannel strategy. Several of the retail mobility solutions already discussed combine to create an online, in-person, and mobile app experience for customers that is seamless, enabling them to do their research, find a product, locate it in-store, try it on, match it to complementing items, tie-in their loyalty program, and pay using their mobile device.
A common example is this: A customer walks into a store, and the product they want is out of stock, or not available in the right color, right size, etc. that they want. If the retailer is prepared with omnichannel capabilities, the customer scans the barcode of the item on their mobile phone, looks it up on the store’s app or website, and finds it in a nearby location or order it online to be shipped to them. Or, an associate walking around with a tablet would be able to do the same thing quickly for the customer.
Omnichannel capabilities also help to meet a customer at their preferred method of shopping. Some retail outlets have programs set up where a customer does their research and buys an item online, then picks up their purchase in-store or has it delivered same-day to their house. Automated locker systems, such as those offered by Apex Technologies, are used for self-service, click-and-collect offerings where customers purchase products digitally and pick them up securely.
For the retailer, it’s a chance to collect a huge amount of data that is tailored to a customer’s experience to exactly their shopping preferences, including predictive marketing and digital try-before-you-buy opportunities. Then that data is used to help sales associates upsell or cross-sell once the customer is in-store and inform smart POS systems for a personalized checkout experience.
Successful retail mobility solutions are more than piecemeal software and hardware components. Each component should be strategically thought out and integrated into a connected program with the infrastructure to support it. A strong WiFi environment is necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Real-time inventory controls will help keep the experience seamless.
Curious about how to implement retail mobility solutions for your company? TRG’s all-encompassing retail mobility offerings include the tools and resources to get you where you need to be. Learn more and get started here.
TRG is a global managed solutions provider focused on mobility, point of sale and payments. With facilities across the United States, Canada and Europe, we provide the most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services – from warehouse to boardroom and deployment to retirement. Our mission is to Make Technology Simple, helping customers accelerate projects, drive application success, improve employee/customer experience and maximize ROI. We’re relentless in our drive to find innovative, effective ways to enhance customer operations and challenge conventional thinking along the way. Learn more about why The Difference Is Us at www.trgsolutions.com.