In this digital age, customer experience is a key differentiator for retailers.
This is a challenge as it requires more than just deploying emerging technologies to improve customer interactivity. As such, Forrester believes that forward-thinking retailers will invest in digital technologies that help improve store operations and ensure that all customer touchpoints are well-integrated this year.
The research company predicts that smart retailers will soon explore the use of associate wearables, inventory automation, and in-store analytics to run their stores more effectively, to ultimately provide better customer experience.
Such retailers will also transform their brick-and-mortar store to an experience centre. In the case of Samsung, it turned its physical store in Manhattan into a space where consumers can get first-hand experience of all its products.
Bridging offline and online channels
Retailers should focus on providing a seamless shopping experience this year too, especially as consumers are increasingly relying on connected devices throughout the customer journey. Forrester found that U.S consumers used smartphones to compare prices (19 percent), find product information (17 percent), and find or redeem a coupon (15 percent) while they shopped in brick-and-mortar stores last year.
Understanding this, online retailer Qoo10 recently launched a GPS-enabled Mame Go! mobile game app. Similar to the popular Pokemon Go game, Mame Go! enables shoppers to catch 'Mameballs' at physical stores to unlock deals. This helps increase footfall to offline stores.
"Retailers can also develop customised Brandmons to increase their brand visibility," said Ku YoungBae, CEO of Qoo10.
He added: "[Mame Go!] is the first game of its kind in Singapore to convert online to offline traffic. [It supports Qoo10's strong belief] that the next step for e-commerce is to drive synergy with brick-and-mortar stores instead of looking at them as competition."
The importance of improving last-mile delivery
According to Forrester, retailers will increasingly use last mile delivery as a way to gain customer loyalty.
Agreeing with that, Ramesh Narayanaswamy, SingPost's Chief Information Officer, explained: "The online marketplace allows consumers to choose from a wide array of retailers, and makes it easy to switch to a competing retailer if expectations are not met. Last mile delivery is becoming the deciding factor as more consumers expect same- or next-day delivery, as well as multiple and convenient pick up and delivery options."
He continued: "Given their busy schedules, [consumers demand] innovations such as self-service automated locker networks that allow them to pick up parcels, deposit mails or return goods [at their convenience]; and mobile and web apps that enable them to access services online, at any time and from anywhere. [To help retailers, logistics] companies are increasingly offering retailers an integrated one-stop shop with the whole value chain of e-commerce logistics. [This includes] web-store development and operations, global fulfillment, performance marketing, customer care, warehouse management and last-mile delivery".
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