For consumers, shopping can either be an exciting experience or a downright stressful one. Finding enough time to shop for the perfect gift or merely everyday staples while attempting to manage the challenges of work, family and everyday life can undoubtedly add to stress levels. Considering all of the expectations and obligations that exist within a consumer’s life, it’s critical for retailers to be respectful of consumers’ time when they have so little to spare.
It's no secret that consumers’ choices on how, where and when they buy are dramatically redefining the retail industry as we know it. In order to stay relevant and top of mind for consumers, retailers have been working hard to remain competitive and to deliver the best possible shopping experience. Perhaps the strongest demonstration of value a retailer can provide to a consumer isn’t just better pricing or a more engaging environment, but instead to give back something their consumers value even more: time. Designing self-service shopping journeys can play a pivotal role in making sure shoppers find the items they need and checkout as efficiently and quickly as possible – effectively bolstering customer loyalty and driving sales.
Technology - a valuable shopping helper
Over the last decade, the landscape of consumer shopping has changed drastically. Thanks to new technology and innovative developments, such as faster payment options, free next-day (and even same-day) shipping, and self-service capabilities, consumer expectations for a quick shopping and checkout process are higher than ever before.
Retailers should take note that when designing in-store journeys to support these higher consumer expectations, shoppers will be more willing to change their routine and try new technologies, such as self-service, if it equates to saving time and reducing their frustration. In many cases, consumers who try self-service enjoy the experience. A survey conducted
earlier this year by SOTI found that 73% of respondents “favored the use of self-service technology to reduce interactions with staff and improve the shopping experience.” This reflects a nearly 11% increase from the previous year’s survey.
Optimize customer journeys
For brick and mortar retailers, optimizing consumer journeys to save time is indeed critical to capture spending dollars and increase customer loyalty, but shoppers also want an environment and process that respects their time. The journey must be operationally sound, meaning a retailer cannot promise an experience and then fail to deliver - such as touting a quick and easy Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) process, but then forcing customers to queue up at the pick-up location due to understaffing or poor fulfillment processes. Equally as important is offering a choice in the journey – allowing consumers to decide how to best manage their own time depending upon the type of shopping they are executing, be it a quick daily top-up or a large weekly haul. This is where self-service technology can provide valuable support to retailers looking to create the needed flexibility within their stores.
It’s important for retailers experimenting with new self-service capabilities to remember that technology alone isn’t the answer to optimizing consumer journeys - business processes and staff must be aligned as well. Retailers who can successfully align technology, team members and processes to optimize the shopping experience will reap the rewards of increased customer loyalty all year round, especially during peak shopping hours.
As we embark on a new year, it is a great opportunity for retailers to continue to show they empathize with consumers’ frantic schedules and long to-do lists by making the shopping experience quicker and easier - ultimately, giving consumers back more time in their day to do the things that matter most.
First Appeared in Total Retail