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There is no doubt that the retail model of today is changing and will be dramatically different in years to come. But how are companies currently digitalising their services to offer a truly integrated and seamless Omni-Channel experience? How do we anticipate this “digital customer experience revolution” to keep moving forward and what we are to expect in the near future?
In its basic form, an Omni-channel approach is how the customer is provided a shopping experience across multiple devices whether that be shopping online from a desktop, mobile device, or by telephone or in bricks-and-mortar.
Often confused with a multi-channel approach the two are quite different. Most companies we see will offer multi-channel, across great mobile marketing, social media campaign or a well-designed website but the customer doesn’t experience a consistent message / experience across these channels.
Organisations like Starbucks are reaping the benefits of an omni-channel, integrating their reward schemes through their apps, website and in-store experience. Offering customers, the ability to have all the platforms working together to help integrate all services and aligning their approach, objectives and designs across each channel to offer the customer a seamless experience overall.
It is clear that the approach of many of the most successful retailers has changed significantly to coincide with rapidly changing digital devices and technologies available to the consumer. In 2016 we can expect to see even more changes in the way we shop with a more personalised service:
1. The Smart Personal Shopper
“By 2022, brick and mortar retail spaces will be little more than showrooms”
Eddie Machaalani & Mitchell Harper, CO-CEOs of BigCommerce
The goals of retailers should be to provide their customers with a seamless and connected shopping experience from the in-store experience through to e-commerce. We are already beginning to see a shift in the in-store consumer experience, moving away from counters to employees with technology to help provide more of a personalised service to each customer.
In stores such as M&S, staff are equipped with tablets to check live stock throughout their stores and offer alternative options should your choice not be available. Tesco are also testing new digital technologies from virtual mirrors to prototyping a new type of digital signage system where all of the store’s products can be viewed and purchased on a single screen. For such multinational organisations, this innovative testing will push and enhance the retail industry, closing the gap between on-line and in-store experiences.
2. Rise of Beacon Technology
“Curation and personalization will be a big part of e-commerce moving forward”
Danny Rimer, Partner at Index Ven-tures
A beacon is a wireless sensor that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also known as Bluetooth Smart, to transmit data that Bluetooth-enabled smartphones can detect so that an action can be performed, such as sending a notification through an app.
In short, this provides mobile marketers with invaluable data, to understand their consumer’s location, what their preferences are, previous shopping history, favourites styles, colours etc. This allows them to completely personalise any marketing content, an extremely effective piece of technology which we'd expect to see more of this year.
3. A Seamless Payment Experience…
“Mobile commerce is critical to success”
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder and CMO of Gilt
The hyper-connected consumer in today’s marketplace requires a seamless payment experience. Visiting the Apple Store, you can purchase a product without technically having to queue if a salesperson is available. This experience removes barriers that would otherwise slow down or possible even eliminate a sale, depending on the service level.
Roaming staff and mobile technology will allow consumers to focus on their purchase experience rather than the cost of the experience. Though the adoption of this process may be the slowest to implement, it is the one that could have the greatest impact on our day-to-day shopping experience.
The rapidly growing share of spending power has led to an ‘always-on’ generation that demand things faster. Whilst some organisations are embracing this changing digital landscape, there is a continuous need for innovation and focus on the customer experience in order to meet the demands of these advanced technological consumers. As consumers have become accustomed to the power of online shopping, organisations must understand that consumers expect a similar consistency with their in-store experience. Successful retailers will understand that their online and offline business models should be amalgamated into one omni-channel approach.