Today’s customers expect to have a “fluid” experience in which their browsing, acquiring, transacting, and consuming in a retailer’s ecosystem are all shaped by the customer experience offered by the retailer. In an environment where digital and physical customer experience is converging, retailers are being pushed to deliver customer interactions in their brick-and-mortar stores that are just as engaging as those found online.
Additionally, in order to enable customers to find what they need, as well as discover new and different products and services, retailers are creatively optimizing their brick-and-mortar stores and online channels with tools such as IoT-enabled devices, AI, and augmented reality applications.
To delight customers, retailers are carefully combing the physical store space and identifying opportunities to introduce digital technologies that improve customer engagement and bring physical products to life. In fact, there are several technology initiatives underway that elevate in-store customer experience while also helping retailers better manage their supply, inventory, and more. For retailers, IoT could include technologies such as geofencing, beacons, Wi-Fi tracking systems, NFC, kiosks and even shoppers’ mobile devices.
Examples of Retail IoT In Action
Retailers know that that customers are able to check in-store pricing, local inventory levels and do price comparisons from their mobile devices, while in the store. What if retailers use mobile devices to their advantage in reaching with messages specifically tailored to every customer’s needs and desires?Uptil now, it is an acceptable practice where retailers send out standard communication to all customers with a hope that some percentage will convert. Instead, now, with existing technology, retailers can recognize if a high-value loyal customer is in the store. And the retailer can have the ability to know what the customer has been looking for or has the intent to purchase. With this information, the retailer can identify the best time and the best message to interact with a customer who needs help or an incentive to purchase.
So, John, a high-value loyal customer has been browsing for shoes on his favorite store’s website. Later, when he enters the store to pick up some new ties, he receives a push notification on his mobile:“John, men’s shoes are 25% off for you today. Click here for directions to the Shoe Section.”
Similarly, retailers can leverage NFCs to recognize customers and deliver personalized information regarding a previously browsed item or cross sell based on a recently purchased product.
In order to create a pleasant and fulfilling shopping experience, retailers with brick and mortar stores want to make sure that customers don’t have to wait too long at checkout counters, or at the POS. Typically, any congestion at the POS is ascertained once the line has already become too long, causing customer dissatisfaction and transaction abandonment. The challenge for retailers is to automate the notification to the store manager before the acceptable line length is about to be exceeded. This would enable the manager to add more staff or open more checkout counters before the congestion actually occurs.This can be achieved by using Wi-Fi monitoring, customer’s mobile devices and streaming data platform that can ingest information in real time to take immediate action.
Similarly, Wi-Fi monitoring can be used to recognize that customers are lingering in a certain product area. Based on this information, an associate can be directed in real time to help customers with the product, as well as to reconfigure the store layout to avoid congestion.
As retailers work toward transforming from a multichannel company into a truly unified retail commerce business, the ability to deliver a converged digital and physical experience is critical. The connected brick-and-mortar store is a key component of this converged retail ecosystem.
However, all of these technology-enabled pieces need to work together in a well-coordinated manner to deliver a highly personalized, smooth and seamless shopping experience to the customer.
A Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) can serve as the centralized coordination service for integrated customer interaction use cases — an orchestration layer stretching across various applications, channels, and data sources. A retail CEH solution must be able to support customer experience-related “event” data from both online digital properties (web, mobile) as well as the physical store (customer-sales associate interactions, emerging in-store applications for immersive shopping experiences, robotics, etc.). It should also have the ability to support a wide variety of use cases ranging from simple rules-driven, action-oriented marketing campaigns to complex use cases that require integration of unstructured data sources and third-party applications.
To learn more about how ZineOne stacks up to offer such personalized customer experiences download Unifying the Customer Experience with an AI-Driven Customer Engagement Hub.