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Streamlining customer experience: Service delivery in today’s retail space

Sangeetha, Dorairaj

Head - Channel Operations

The expansion in retail offerings across channels has made it important for companies to adapt a rapid pace. The use of dynamic operation strategies will ensure that retail firms will always have an answer to any question posed to them.

 

 

So much has changed in the retail industry today and this has prompted industry players to diversify their offerings. Traditionally, retail has just meant brick and mortar stores but today there are multiple channels that buyers actively purchase from. As such, there is no such thing as ‘pure e-commerce’. Retailers must adapt their strategies to meet these expectations and provide the best service delivery. The aim here must be enhanced customer experience, and this means retailers must innovate.

Maintaining the best customer experience across multiple channels is very important for retailers. No matter where they shop, a buyer must view uniform offerings and prices. So, replicating an online catalogue in a physical store is very important. A seamless shopping experience is memorable and effective. Multiple channels must dynamically talk to each other so that if a buyer views a product on one channel, he can buy it over another.

While this is important, retailers must never forget after-sales service. Facilities that allow for self-help by buyers during and after the shopping experience help answer queries, resolve complaints and showcase the retailer as a specialist in end-to-end service management. This inspires a degree of brand loyalty among buyers whilst broadcasting their testimonies to attract new buyers. The retailers brand image also receives a boost and its operations team receives customer insights that further help to serve them better.

Knowing your audience

A recent report[1] on consumer shopping patterns neatly highlights how such insights shape the application of retail strategy. According to the report, convenience and price are the two most key factors that determine where a customer makes a purchase from. 67% of millennials prefer to shop online as opposed to only 28% of seniors whose preference is to visit brick and mortar stores and make a physical purchase.

Armed with this insight into audience preference, retailers can cater to a wide range of shopping patterns in the retail space. They can find ways to appeal to people from different age groups whilst maintaining a consistent channel design in terms of visual appeal, messaging and price. This can ultimately create a holistic shopping experience for the buyer and enable them to travel within the brand ecosystem smoothly as they move from one channel to another.

Innovation for differentiation

Keeping these parameters in mind, retailers today are constantly looking for ways to improve their retail operations. One avenue is innovating in-store facilities by focusing on aesthetics, connectivity and in-store security systems that improve the overall shopping experience. In India, for example, the concept of alarm systems that detect critical incidents such as fires, intrusions and other events has only recently begun to gain importance. Such integrated systems help operation teams analyze the nature of unforeseen incidents and initiate the necessary steps to counter them. This represents a major evolution for in-store services.

Online retail is another avenue that has been major enhancements due to a booming e-commerce industry and mobile usage. The virtual world is a single space where many brands can come together and display/sell their products. For retailers, this is a wonderful opportunity to simplify their visualization, marketing and sales operations. Even inventory management and procurement management become simpler than ever. The information gained through this space helps analyze recurring issues that can be addressed by automated help-desks that resolve customer issues in real-time.

The final set of primary innovations in the retail space highlights the industry’s commitment to two factors that ensure optimal customer satisfaction – product cost and quality control. As every single physical product can be tagged with a unique code, price compliance across channels can be maintained. This boost compliance to trade practices. Additionally, quality control becomes much simpler. With the help of such technology, retailers can ensure that store prices and discounts remain consistent and the highest quality of products reaches buyers.

Conclusion

The rise of clearly laid out strategies for multiple channels has been a significant milestone in the evolution of the retail industry. With so many existing and new brands making their way into stores, an approach that works across products and channels is the need of the hour. The end goal remains unchanged – provide buyers with an unforgettable shopping experience. Latest strategies are well in place to help retailers achieve this goal and industry trends clearly show that this approach is here to stay.

[1] https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/