As we close out 2021 and begin 2022, we see a retail landscape that’s very different than it was two years ago. The global COVID pandemic served as a catalyst for the evolution of how consumers prefer to shop. For example, Accenture predicts an increase of 169% in online purchases from new and low-frequency users. This is just one example of how consumers have pushed toward the convenience of digital services to fulfil their shopping needs.
As consumer expectations shifted, so did the customer experiences offered by retailers. Services like same-day shipping, curbside pick up, self-service, in-aisle checkout and home delivery quickly became staples in the retail industry. Unsurprisingly, curbside pick up was the most popular, with 93% of retail executives confirming to Accenture that their company offered the service.
While offering these services to customers is a great start, it’s not enough to maintain loyalty with consumers. With the lines between digital and physical blurring more each day, merchants need to focus on connecting their online and physical channels for a seamless experience. To this end, 40% of consumers are seeking more creative, in-person physical experiences that can’t be offered online or purely on mobile, according to another Accenture report on consumer led approaches.
Here are a few key things to consider as you build your strategy for 2022 and beyond:
1. Consumers See No Channel
While you and I may see online, on-mobile, in-store and vending as separate sales channels, consumers see one interaction with your brand. Hence, another key point I found interesting from the first Accenture study was that nearly a third (32%) of consumers said that being able to make a purchase in-store and and have their items delivered to their homes would entice them to shop with one retailer over another. This just further highlights how consumers view their interaction with a brand. Similarly, being able to buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) and initiate returns in-store for items purchased online also ensure that customers have a seamless experience across channels.
2. Position Employees for Success
One of the biggest challenges retailers face is how to best utilize their in-store associates. Often, more than one employee is required to work the checkout station, especially during busy periods, making it more difficult to assist customers in-aisle and store logistics, among other things. This is where the right technology can make a big difference. For example, Android mobility solutions enable store associates to not only provide checkout services at the point of interaction, but can provide helpful product information and availability. Additionally, self-service kiosks can enable customers to check themselves out, which frees up store associates to focus on assisting other customers and keeping on top of stocking shelves and other store logistics.
3. Leverage Data and Analytics
While many retailers collect data on their customers and their shopping habits, most don’t actually take full advantage of the analytics that are available to them. Whether it’s analyzing shoppers’ preferences to provide more timely offers and deals or even comparing store data with environmental data to better understand trends, analytics can help make your business more efficient. Additionally, customer data can also be used in store to better offer relevant products that could or should be purchased with what the customer is considering, which can help complete the purchase, drive a higher basket size and leave customers feeling more satisfied.
Technology That Enables Innovation
One of the key challenges of evolving customer expectations is the ability to adapt and keep pace. It’s important to ensure that your technology partners are designing their solutions with this in mind. With the proliferation of cloud-based services and agile solutions, any technology you deploy should be capable of adding features and functions that further enable you to run your business more efficiently and adapt to changes as they rise
If you’re interested in learning more about how Ingenico can help your business keep pace with your customers’ evolving expectations we’d be happy to chat.
Kylie Ruiz is an Account Manager at Ingenico, a Worldline brandPhoto by Korie Cull on Unsplash