Shopping, whether online or in-store, can be a frustrating experience for many. Shoppers, annoyed with the less than optimal customer experience offered to them, leave the store or close their browser window without buying. This, in turn, is a frustrating experience for retailers which are seeing their sales numbers dwindling.
The answer for these retailers? Embrace the use of emerging technology trends – including new augmented reality (AR) – and older, always reliable technology like SMS to appeal to buyers and coax them along their purchasing journey. This would lead to full shopping carts, both online and offline, and completed transactions.
It has undoubtedly become increasingly common for customers to order clothing online. Actually, going to a store and shopping there just seems like hard work. If an online retailer has a reliable and trustworthy returns policy, it’s far easier to buy a cart full of clothing online and then return whatever doesn’t fit.
There are changes that retailers can make to both their in-store and online shopping to exponentially improve customer experience.
Embracing augmented reality (AR) is changing the retail game in a big way, driving sales and improving the customer experience. Some 61 percent of customers prefer stores which offer some type of AR experience while 40 percent will pay more for a product if they can first experience it through AR. In fact, new research shows that 69 percent of consumers expect retail stores to launch AR apps before the end of this year.
How are retailers using this technology? Augmented reality is being embraced in several, groundbreaking ways. Retailers Lowe’s and Walgreens are using it to assist with in-store navigation. Fashion brands including Topshop, Timberland, and Uniqlo are using AR to allow customers to virtually try on their products. Customers don’t have to go through the hassle of trying on clothing in the fitting room, instead they stand in front of a smart mirror and see a virtual version of themselves wearing their chosen outfit.
One of the simplest ways for retailers to embrace technology is to make use of SMS as part of their customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. Even if customers don’t make the purchase online, mobile would likely have played a role at some point during their buying journey. Retailers have seen success by using SMS to notify customers about sales and special events, both online and in-store.
They also successfully use SMS to provide better customer service. By allowing two-way messaging, retailers can improve the customer experience tenfold. It’s fast, easy, effective and is, in fact, the way customers prefer to communicate. That’s right, the majority of people prefer to use SMS for customer service inquiries and comments. Of course, it’s essential that businesses only use SMS to communicate with customers who have opted to receive this type of communication.
Frictionless experiences: A seamless omnichannel experience will make all the difference to a customer’s experience of your store. Experiencing the same level of customer experience from a smart mirror, window display, SMS, and website will allow shoppers to enjoy their experience with your brand.
Shipping notifications: When shopping online, customers have become used to receiving shipping notifications – when their order has been received, when their items have left the warehouse, and when they’re due to be delivered. If you’re a brick and mortar store offering in-store pickup, give your customers the level of communication they need.
Personal shopper: It’s becoming increasingly common for retailers to offer a personal shopper option. Once only an option to the elite, now anyone can make an appointment with a retailer and have their clothing picked out for them. Customers can simply let the store know what their needs and sizes are. An Artificial Intelligence (AI) bot will quickly scan the store’s inventory and find the most appropriate options. A staff member will then step in and shop the store on behalf of your customers, pulling the items which they’ll love from the racks, saving them time and energy.
Recommended coordinating items: Retailers are also able to use information about past purchases to suggest items that a customer would like. The information can then be linked to customer store and loyalty cards to build a profile of each customer’s personal style and preferences, including the colors they favor and the brands they prefer. It suddenly becomes a whole lot easier to offer your customer suggestions of items they’re more likely to purchase.
There’s little doubt that technology is having a major impact on our lives and dramatically impacting the retail industry. If you’d like to learn more about how AI in retail is changing the industry, read our recent article. It highlights how AI, one of many emerging technology trends, is improving the CRM strategy for retail businesses around the world.