3 key insights into how invisible technology creates a smoother retail customer experience
1 — It’s not just about the tech
The introduction of innovations like one-click shopping and chatbots were revolutionary and impressive. But the most important thing to remember is that things like this are meaningless unless they provide a real benefit to the customer. As Jon Bird, CEO at Labstore said: “Today, customer experience - ‘CX’ - is the new currency that pays a retailer's bills.” Everyone points to Amazon as the prime example of that, but there are other retailers who have got it right. Tommy Hilfiger, for example, created a solution that allows shoppers (or swipers) to buy on Tinder. Warby Parker revolutionized eyewear retail by introducing Try At Home.
Another recent brilliant and decidedly low-tech innovation is pop-up stores. Aday, which has used tech to improve and refine online clothing shopping, went offline a few months ago with a pop-up shop. What should have been a month-long event became such a huge success that got extended by weeks. Popping up in different neighborhoods allows Aday to avoid geographical saturation. And given that their story is so compelling, shoppers fall in love with the brand and become loyal online customers anyway.
2 - Tiny incremental changes can make a big difference for the customer
If you remember from our earlier post, we spoke with behavioral science guru Jason Hreha when we were visiting a Walmart in Silicon Valley on our tour. He told us that some of the smallest incremental changes a retailer institutes can make a big difference for customers. And rather than using technology as the focus, retailers should make sure that their customers’ needs and problems always be paramount. If your customer wants to buy a pair of shoes, she doesn’t care about the high-tech gizmo that speeds your online payment system and guards her information, but she will appreciate that the process is fast and free of hiccups and probably return.
The folks at Google nailed it: “We are not a software company but an advertising company. Anything we do to make our users’ life and experience with our products better, is helping us reaching our goal to share information more easily."
3 - Technology can actually make things feel more human
Technology allows the time and resources a retailer might have spent on other issues to be used to address the customers’ most immediate needs. For example, with chatbots replacing some human operators to handle routine transactions, this frees up the call center personnel to more readily deal with bigger problems that need human intervention. With the chatbots to expedite normal transactions, and humans free to troubleshoot when needed, the technology enhances the entire customer interface…invisibly.
But in order for technology to make things more human in the retail industry, it’s up to the retailers to take a critical look at what people want out of a shopping experience. As Bryan Gildenberg put it, customers want to feel like they’ve gotten a great deal. But more importantly, people want a stress-free shopping experience…and that’s where technology comes in. With so many choices available to customers, retailers using technology where they can to optimize the shopping experience.
Or as Yannis K. said, “What’s becoming clear for a lot of brands is that they need to understand a person and how they move across the experiences’ and then they can use tech as an enabler to make things more human.”
How can you implement this strategy your business? The first step is to utilize data to get a better, more holistic understanding of customers, not just in their own ecosystem but across any place consumers move. When you see where they go and what they do, you’ll be able to start determining where and how you can use technology to make their experience better — without their even knowing it.
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