Technology is rapidly changing the way we connect with the world, including how we shop for the products we want.
Little more than a decade ago, a smiling sales associate and a 1-800 support number were enough to ensure a great customer experience. Today, that same merchant must enable a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels—mobile, tablet, laptop, print, in-store—or risk losing the sale or, what’s worse, the customer.
Pioneering brands and retailers view the shifting landscape as an opportunity to break ahead of the pack and reap the rewards. And for good reason. According to Forrester, online retail sales accounted for almost 9% of the $3.2 trillion total retail market in 2013 and are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 10% through 2018. Given the potential ROI, how will you prioritize your technology investments to seize competitive advantage?
Here are 5 tips for building an innovative, omnichannel customer experience to satisfy today’s demanding multi-touch consumers:
1. Be responsive to your customers:
In order to maximize online sales and build brand equity, you need to go where the eyeballs are—this means optimizing your online shopping experience to work over all connected devices. Simply put, a responsive website displays and functions perfectly over any sized screen. A recent Cisco survey revealed that mobile search currently touches in-store and online purchase for 29% and 33% of shoppers respectively. eBay has reported that more than half of their online sales touch mobile devices. Nonetheless, a Forrester study for Accenture indicates that a staggering 94% of retail decision-makers face significant barriers to supporting a truly integrated omnichannel business. That signifies a huge opportunity for nimble retailers to gain early mover advantage. And lest you think this only applies to retailers, think again. Forrester reports that 23% of customers purchase from a manufacturer’s website via mobile or tablet. In sum, whether you’re a brand or retailer, your customers are searching for your products online—often using a mobile phone or tablet. Relaunching a fully responsive website—including a responsive store that enables you to capture those sales, supported by Kibo—should be a top priority on your technology road map.
2. Arm sales associates for action:
Whether you’re a retailer or brand, your sales associates serve as frontline brand ambassadors. In order to give them the information they need to succeed, associates should be equipped with mobile phones or tablets that surface detailed product information, promotions and customer data to assist with every aspect of the in-store shopping experience. This includes processing in-store pickups and returns (which typically result in incremental sales). A recent customer survey reveals that 69% of customers expect sales associates to be armed with mobile devices. And although 84% of consumers research on a mobile device while in-store (Google), 61% of customers still like to receive information from sales associates, with 72% expecting the sales associate to help track down desired products from another retail location. Despite this trend, Forrester reports that 40% of retailers currently lack a fully integrated eCommerce platform. As the industry-leading provider of cloud-based distributed order management for manufacturers and brands, our capabilities enable sales associates to access comprehensive, real-time product information and customer data via any connected device, also empowering the sales associate to process in-store returns, track inventory and offer appeasements. These technical capabilities result in a better experience for today’s click-to-brick shoppers.
3. Enable real-time inventory:
Offering a stellar customer experience means eliminating the frustration of out-of-stock scenarios. Today’s customers expect real-time visibility into product inventory via multiple channels. In fact, 82% of consumers ranked access to current product availability as a top priority (Accenture). For retailers, this can mean the difference between making and breaking the sale. In fact, 27% of consumers state that they would visit another retailer entirely if unable to locate a product quickly and easily. It all comes down to this: Your customers expect to track down the products they want instantly and arrange for fast delivery or free in-store pickup. Our easy-to-implement distributed order management platform enables merchants to surface inventory to customers, sales associates and customer support via any connected screen. By providing real-time access to inventory, your customers will be happy, which means you’ll capture more sales.
4. Empower omnichannel customer support:
Never underestimate the value of providing a world-class customer care experience. Failing to connect your customers with prompt, courteous and knowledgeable support will erode customer loyalty quicker than you can click from your site to Amazon. Companies that provide omnichannel customer care strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year increases in client retention rates than companies that don’t, according to Aberdeen Group. This results in enhanced profitability and lifetime customer value. Retail leaders, like Macy’s, have invested heavily in creating a single, unified omnichannel experience, so customers enjoy frictionless shopping and support via all channels—whether speaking with a customer service rep or shopping in-store. This has helped Macy’s enjoy a 62% increase in brand value, according to world-leading brand consultancy, Interbrand. We at Kibo believe that providing a seamless customer support experience will not only drive revenue, but significantly increase customer loyalty. Our Customer Care Suite enables retailers and brands to provide branded customer support through our dedicated support team or to use their own customer support team. Either way, associates enjoy real-time access to product information and promotions and can cancel or modify an order, provide real-time inventory data and offer save-the-sale appeasements for a world-class customer experience.
5. Keep customers in the loop:
More than same-day delivery, special promotions and even free shipping, your customers want clear communications around when their products will arrive over the channels they prefer. Whether an order is being shipped from a warehouse or routed by Kibo’s patented APIs to a retail store for fast delivery or in-store pickup, your customers want to receive up-to-date information on when their products will be delivered to store or door. In a recent Forrester consumer survey, 83% of customers rated knowing when a package would arrive as the single most important service a brand or retailer could provide, followed closely by the ability to buy products online and pick up in-store. Giving your customers the ability to select either text or email for order notifications and providing clear communications on order tracking and delivery status will go a long way toward improving customer retention.
If you want to achieve lasting eCommerce success, it all comes down to creating an integrated omni-channel shopping experience that connects your customers with the products they want across every step of their shopping journey. By prioritizing your technology investments to support a unified, omnichannel shopping experience, you have the ability to push ahead of the pack and drive positive brand equity, revenue and lifetime customer value.