Innovative technology is bringing lots of exciting opportunities to retailers. The challenge for 2017 is to decide which opportunities to embrace to better satisfy consumers and boost business models.
Watch Tryzens’ CEO Andy Burton’s key takeaways for retailers in 2017
1) Focus on the basics
With so much innovation it is easy to lose sight of the basics. But to be successful in eCommerce it is important to get these right first. We believe that the most successful retailers in 2017 will invest more in evaluating their offering to make sure customers can quickly find what they want and have access to the most straightforward payment and delivery options. There should also be plenty of relevant promotions (such as loyalty schemes, personalisation and content) to motivate shoppers to return to your site time and again.
Retailers will put more effort into assessing whether their online offering works well on all devices and in harmony with their physical stores. It is important to continuously evaluate the customer experience on mobile phones, tablets and PCs and make sure sites have responsive designs that look good across all relevant devices.
2) Leverage timely analytics
In 2017, retailers will do more to proactively monitor what is happening across their channels and back end systems and make use of this data to improve their business model. Our TradeState dashboard makes it easy to set business goals and benchmark your performance with industry norms. You can see where customers are coming from and on what device. You can also see what they are buying and what they abandon, and collect a raft of other real time data about the content and functionality shoppers have used.
Retailers will also use predictive analytics in the online store to help them understand how different kinds of consumers interact with their site, products and offering. This will enable them to send targeted promotions, optimise consumer experience and understand more about the relationship between frequency of purchase and customer lifetime value.
3) Re-engineer back office systems to support innovation and growth
Many retailers still see eCommerce as “just another shopfront” in their existing operations. In fact, it has the potential to completely revolutionise the effectiveness and profitability of their entire business. Ecommerce systems should complement the in-store experience, but to optimise this it is essential to pursue a single view of stock and a single view of the customer across physical and online stores. In future, systems will be fully integrated to support all channels and to enable innovative ways of serving and interacting with the customer whilst improving profitability. For example, by extending the visibility of stock and by deploying intelligent fulfillment options to reduce the cost pressure of deliveries and returns.
Consumer expectations of delivery are extremely high and many companies are now offering same day delivery to a home address, store or collection point. With innovation driving the likes of Amazon with its drone delivery trials, we could even see deliveries made in hours. In 2017, some retailers will adopt more flexible systems that will work out the optimal way to fulfil an order from a customer and cost perspective.
4) A true mobile experience
Nowadays, we are used to shopping online via eCommerce sites, mobile apps, and more recently, social media. More than 50% of retail sales are touched by a mobile device and this trend is accelerating. 2017 will see dramatic improvements in the mobile shopping experience by those brands planning strategically for the future. To stay ahead of the competition retailers will invest in simplifying mobile or smart phone interaction to drive both online and in-store sales. We will see retailers invest more in the consumer experience on these devices to improve the shopping experience. This is so much more than just a responsive design on the user interface to adapt to screen sizes, but will optimise to the ergonomic features and behaviors such as those enabled by thumb/touch driven navigations, biometrics for payment authentication and location based events.
In the latter example, multi-channel retailers will use more location-based apps that adapt to the person’s location. If a potential customer is close to a store you can entice them in with offers or alert staff that a “click and collect” customer is about to arrive so they can seamlessly be ready to complete the transaction. If they are in-store you can provide online support to help the customer make purchase decisions and apps for payment, so people don’t need to queue at the checkout. This is an issue becoming increasingly relevant in the artificial sales peak where there is a real need for queue busting solutions to ease the pressure on store resourcing and enhance the customer experience.
5) Plan for chat services
We predict that whilst retailers will continue to make use of live online chat services to answer queries, providing customers with immediate access to help, without the hassle of them having to call a customer support line, in future, we will see more chat services using so-called chatbots. Chatbots use an instant messaging medium, such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter, to respond to generic questions and get information from the customer. For example, booking appointments with in-store stylists and gathering information about what customers are looking for. These technologies could become mainstream in the next few years and brands need to be thinking about how they may be relevant to their business.
The opportunity to innovate and differentiate in retail is huge. 2017 will be a great year for the customer as retailers dedicate more time and money to improving the shopping experience. We can help you decide where to focus your efforts to boost your business.