Perhaps more than any other industry, retail has become a truly omni-channel field. Walking into a brick-and-mortar store and shopping — while once the definition of retail — is now just a small part of the overall retail experience. While retailers like Amazon are leading the industry with online-only shopping, others are using a combination of online shopping and the in-store experience to maximize their business.
There’s no doubt that it’s easier to gather customer data through online activity rather than collecting data from customers in a brick-and-mortar store. Online shoppers leave a digital footprint that retailers can track with real-time tools like Google Analytics, and when they engage with brands via mobile apps, customer communities, and loyalty programs. But retailers shouldn’t ignore the crucial customer data that can be collected from in-store shoppers. In a world where we can have items delivered same-day by drone, retailers should make it a priority to collect and leverage all the data they can from customers who actually make the effort to go and shop in their brick-and-mortar stores.
Empower associates to wow customers
Forrester Research predicts that more retailers will begin adopting technology in every area of their business as they seek to improve the Customer Experience. To compete in today’s retail industry, brands will need to undergo a complete digital transformation involving digital tools, technologies, and partnerships. Digital tools are key for the in-store experience, including things like customer apps, digital signage, kiosks, and even the ability to accept payments via mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
Retail store associates are essential to the brick-and-mortar Customer Experience. They are the face of the brand and influence sales by offering product recommendations and guiding customers through the buying process. When associates are given the best training and tools — and are empowered to make decisions — they will create better experiences for customers. In fact, empowered employees sell 87 percent more on the sales floor. For a great example of empowered employees, just walk into any Apple Store. Apple is known as a leader in customer service, and for good reason. You likely won’t hear “let me check with my manager” at the Apple Store. The company trains associates to enrich the lives of customers and do what they believe to be the right thing to do in any situation.
Make all stores digital stores with Google
New technologies aim to make the in-store shopping experience more convenient and efficient. By integrating mobile and social solutions, retailers can personalize the Customer Experience while also collecting crucial customer data. Implementing Google for Work can help bring retailers forward in the digital space and empower store associates. Powered by Chrome for Work, in-store kiosks and digital signage can improve the customer buying experience and reduce business costs by moving print signage operations to digital. Google also makes it easy for store employees to find and use training materials and product information — and to share best practices with one another — via Google Drive and Google+.
In today’s competitive retail industry, brands must know how to manage and leverage an omni-channel business. Whether a customer is researching a brand online or shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, the experience should be familiar and personalized. By adding digital components in-store and empowering employees with the best tools and training, retailers can wow their customers with an exceptional experience that will keep them coming back.
Learn more about technologies that are helping to change the retail game in our ebook, Creating Exceptional Retail Experiences: Solutions for Retail and Franchise Management Success.