Technology is changing how we live and it’s only natural that it would change the way we work as well.
As consumers, innovations reshape the way we search for, buy or even pay for products. Companies help us making faster and easier decisions by providing real time communication, new ways of advertising and convenient buying platforms. The customer is king and thus companies value their opinions and preferences more and more. Competition on the goods market is fierce and consumers have myriad choices to select from when looking for products that fit their needs and desires best. They simply don’t need to compromise anymore. The huge benefit of that is that the products we use are getting better and quality of life improves significantly when the retail market is customer-oriented.
Even though e-commerce is booming, traditional stores are not going anywhere.
Not only has the number of physical stores not dropped in recent years, but they’ve found new ways of attracting and engaging with customers. It’s all about creating good experiences and unique moments; those kinds of experiences that we can’t encounter in an online world. We don’t just go to the store or coffee shop to get new products. By choosing these places, we communicate that we belong to certain groups; we identify ourselves with some life-style; we share these moments with our friends and publish our comments online; creating our own identity; we want to be associated with certain brands or activities. Consumers are the best advertisers and that’s why loyalty programs have grown in importance. To win the game you need to give your customers a good reason to move from their couch and visit your store in person. It may be very challenging but it is possible. It may be as easy as creating a beautiful shopfront people like to stop by, or a setup people will take a photo with, or something as unique as a famous piece of art. If you are flexible enough to follow trends and adjust to clients’ needs, you are half way there.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media and word of mouth.
There is no real distinction or competition between online and traditional commerce. We can try out and search for products in the conventional store but order and buy things online and the other way round. Retailers shouldn’t think too much about in which sphere they will be more successful (on- or offline) but rather how and where they can meet or exceed their clients’ expectations. You loose when you don’t focus on your customers and when you don’t listen to what they have to say. When customers get lost or become frustrated, it’s the first step to not only losing them, but also undermining or damaging your image. With so many social media platforms, the word spreads rapidly and people do value and take in consideration online reviews when making purchase decisions. Just think about all the times when you’ve bought something after a friend of yours recommended it or when you chose not to visit a restaurant after reading bad reviews online.
Do your homework and research what vendors and companies are out there, offering new technologies and innovative solutions for retail.
Retailers need to focus on how to enhance their interactions with customers by using new technologies such as chatbots, Artificial Intelligence or Augmented Reality. All of these innovations improve not only the buying process itself, but save time, helping to avoid tedious manual tasks and are meant to make our lives easier.
Chatbots can assist us during the purchasing process by checking the availability of a product, suggesting delivery options, and responding to frequently asked questions like return policies, payment options, store locations etc. Thanks to chatbots, you don’t need to load your employees with time-consuming, repetitive work while still offering real time communication with customers.
Augmented reality has found it’s use in the retail industry in various applications which help us see in real time how new products would look on our person. You can now try makeup products using only the camera in your phone or see how new furniture would fit into your living room without ever leaving your home. Another convenience is that trying on one piece of clothing in the fitting room, you can see in the mirror how it would look in different colours or patterns without the need to change over and over again.
Customers want to be conscious not only about the products they buy but also the whole manufacturing cycle. Mobile applications can deliver all sorts of information starting with the ingredients or materials used in production, the country of origin and expiration dates, by merely scanning a barcode with a cell phone. Taking this one step further, you can even eliminate the risk of fakes/copycats by tracking high value products with an app. It’s a very useful technology on the diamond market, where thanks to blockchain and the internet of things, buyers and sellers can now easily track the whole pipeline of trade and avoid any fraud attempts.
Knowing your clients well can only work in your favour.
A huge part of adapting to customers needs is analysing data and drawing accurate conclusions. You can’t overstate the value of data and insights. But you can achieve desirable results only if you use data to better understand your clients, their behaviour and profile, not when you try using these facts to trick them or solely sell more. Using data analytics, you can create more personalized messages and products. You can analyse customer behaviours geographically and then adjust your supply delivery accordingly. Smart data analysis will help you save both time and money but what’s more important it can help you build valuable relationships with your clients, who won’t feel anonymous and unheard.
Adapt quickly and be agile.
Trends change as quickly as technologies and the key to a successful business is the willingness to adjust to clients’ demands, observing them carefully and listening to what they want to say. The truth is that investing in new technologies is simply not enough to thrive and win in this challenging retail world. Be agile, more responsive to market drifts, build trust and relationships with your clients and business partners. That’s what a customer oriented business stands for.