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Digital customers bulldoze into retail

“The customer is always right” but now the digital customer has come on to the scene. This new breed of customers expects to order products and services at the touch of a button, meaning retailers are racing to keep up.

A seamless shopping experience?

A recent report released from iVend Retail, “Europe and North America: A study in omni-channel contrasts”, reveals that the omni-channel experience is disappointing customers in-store. So it looks like the shift from multi to omnichannel isn’t running entirely smoothly. This could be down to the inability to gather data in-store around individual shoppers’ behaviours (frequency of purchases, purchase history, buying preferences), so what technologies are retailers using to inject some excitement into the omni-channel experience?

Apps

  • Apps and social commerce can be of huge benefit for retailers to personalise the shopping experience by gathering real time data on what, where and how the customer purchases their products.
  • Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have experimented with a “buy now” button so customers don’t even need to leave the app or site to purchase items.
  • Snapchat allowed brands to interact with customers by sending promotional pictures offering a sneak peak of Burberry’s new collection.
  • Harvey Nichols’ cut down the “loyalty card clutter” in your wallet by introducing app-based loyalty programmes for their customers.

In-store experiences

  • Customers are being given the chance to immerse themselves in the shopping experience through live broadcasting of catwalks, video screens showing advertising campaigns and customer involvement in advertising campaigns.
  • Location-based technologies such as Bluetooth connected beacons can allow retailers to provide a more personalised experience in the form of offers, promotions and messages on the spot as they browse in-store. 
  • Virtual technology in the form of magic or memory mirrors allow customers to try on virtual outfits in different colours and styles. If you’re not keen on seeing yourself in the outfit, virtual mannequins can allow customers to simply remove a hanger from the rail and voila! a model appears in your chosen garment.

Payment

  • The digital customer doesn’t need to wait in a queue when they can use their smartphones to pay for their items.
  • Restaurants are using Apps which update diners on queues and allow them to pay for food instantly without having to wait for the bill.
  • Contactless payments could soon be a thing of the past as wearable payment devices could eliminate the need to even take out your wallet or smartphone.
  • Products in shops could even be embedded with technologies that enable people to pay for them by simply picking them up from the shelf!

It looks like shoppers will be given a lot of control over how they shop and how they pay for their products. The digital customer is demanding and as the divide between digital and physical shopping continues to blur retailers must ensure that the efficiency and convenience experienced online satisfies that customer offline... after all, the “digital customer is always right”.