Customer experience CANNOT be fixed with technology alone
- Mar 03, 2020
In today’s online and offline retail market, “this is the way we have always done it” is the most dangerous mindset any retailer can have. While customer expectations grow as enormously and quickly as their choices and options, along with E-Commerce Website Developments in Pakistan, it’s not a great surprise that traditional retail players like Al-Fatah, Servis Shoes, Generation, Nishat, Al-Karam, etc. are struggling to keep up with providing a great customer experience.
The current retail landscape is uncertain and precarious for those hamstrung and confined by the status quo. Besides that pressure comes from both the top-down and the bottom-up retailers. From above, giant and colossal brands like Khaadi, Imtiaz, Sapphire, Gul Ahmad, J Dot, etc. are leveraging their diversity, capital, and market share to innovate rapidly and dramatically and significantly. Initiatives that enrich simplicity and ease of experience, like Daraz-cum-Ali Baba, TCS Yayvo, etc. powerfully differentiate these retailers and radically transform customer expectations superficially overnight.
What’s the Customer’s Perspective?
From a customer perspective, perks and plus points that were once luxuries are now necessities. Like same-day shipping, personalized product recommendations, options to buy online or pick up from the store, etc. And although traditional offline retailers are investing in meeting these higher standards, the top dogs are making it nearly difficult. If not impossible to catch up. As they pour more and more money into exceeding customer expectations. Plus, redefining the entire online retail experience in their favor.
Behemoths are not the only ones challenging traditional retailers. Retail industry giants use their size and range to best stagnant retailers, smaller and more nimble. Direct-to-consumer brands are doing the same. Startups like Agha Noor, Be One, By-The-Way (BTW), etc were born digitally. They don’t need to consider scale in the same way brick-and-mortar retailers do. Their digital marketing strategies have always incorporated disruptive ways to approach e-commerce. Hence, affording them the ability from day one to take modern, innovative yet calculated risks supported by their customer data. Now, as they increase judiciously into brick-and-mortar, they’re taking the same approach. And leading the way in increasingly disrupting physical retail experiences as well.
The clothing brand “Be One” is a great example of this omnichannel disruption. The brand’s store layout is showroom-style minimalist, and shoppers digitally order or select online from their website. And then only they come to shops to pay and place an order. The risks of creating such an unconventional retail experience have paid off to the brand in terms of millions of sales revenue per month.
Where should Retailers Invest?
When retail gurus in Pakistan say Retail is getting dead, I don’t agree, we think retail needs to adapt. Sticking to only familiar customer experiences doesn’t cut it anymore. It won’t differentiate your brand from the rest. Plus, the strong will only get stronger. Rather than trying to chase Daraz’s or Amazon’s prowess, laggard retailers need to invest in creative and unique differentiation to stay ahead of the curve.
- That primarily means, first and foremost, analyzing your customer data is very very important. For offline retail, V-Count Footfall Counters are the best they can use to calculate the footfall-to-conversion ratio. And for online retailers, can use web store Footfall Heatmaps, Facebook pixels, add-to-cart, proceed-to-checkout, and abandoned cart ratios to get customer preferences data.
- Then scaling up and personalizing content accordingly is important.
- After that bridging audience with careful yet thoughtful brand collaborations. And leveraging technology to create really meaningful and enjoyable customer retail experiences. No more buying time with gimmicks masked as features. Instead, brands must be intentional about implementing technology. Later making customer touch-points resonate in a valuable, yet in a new, positive way.
An excellent example is Sephora’s Virtual Artist tool which caught my eye. It brings unique omnichannel value to both kinds of customers – at-home buying online and in-store. Guess what Sephora did, by just explaining and working out the challenge of in-store product sampling. The brand digitized and innovated and transformed itself with augmented reality. They transformed the cosmetics shopping experience to make it more personalized, simplified, and fun, this has increased the standard for Sephora’s competitors in the $56 billion industry.
Building Relationships with Customers is Essential
As online shoppers warm up to retail tech, traditional retailers can only be seen as creative and innovative if they offer technologies customers essentially want. Amazingly, a majority of Pakistani customers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that offers a systematized returns process, good display of product variety, proximity-triggered mobile coupons, and nice and smart try-on rooms. But you would be surprised only a small handful of retailers offer these features.
Brand satisfaction, (or customer dissatisfaction) is driven by emotions like urgency, exclusiveness, and respect that build relationships with customers. Retailers are already known for “hurry in launching” and “exclusivities” tactics, like flash sales around holiday weekends and store credit cards. But these retail loyalty methods, are now obsolete or disingenuous without the respect element that Direct-To-Consumer brands emphasize and deliver. Customer Respect is all about valuing the customer’s time and preferences over anything and everything. Additionally, this also means prioritizing ease and simplicity in the brand relationship. Plus, anticipating customer needs at the right intervals of the customer journey and delivering personalized brand messages with the help of Email Marketing Services in Pakistan is important now.
Stand Out as a Retailer
To compete with DTC, retailers need to create customer touch points that are deeply attracting and engaging, and show attentiveness to customer needs and preferences. Retail brands that reward loyalty with increasingly compelling brand experiences outstand. And to do that, retailers need to invest in data. Customer respect can’t begin without first analyzing customer journeys, discovering their pain points, and optimizing and integrating these customer experiences across different channels – real-time – to better understand and serve customers.
Earlier, e-commerce-only brands start entering the brick-and-mortar space, retailers will need to leverage data to distinguish their own individual brands. By delivering an exceptional customer experience that stands out instead of just being a one-stop-shop for others. Many e-commerce first brands have set the standard. And now retail can mimic their most successful tactics to exceed that mark.
Meanwhile, 75.8 % of customers consider in-store location tracking “creepy,” yet RFID and beacon technologies are on growth. While investing in Digital Marketing Services in Pakistan for a great retail experience is crucial and almost the need of the hour, spending millions just to have a mobile app or in-store customer sensors without aiming at actually augmenting or improving the customer experience is a waste of money and resources.
To avoid low adoption rates and poor return on technological investment, or, even worse, common customer backlash, these middle players must invest in a marketing strategy that includes data collection, detailed customer research, and customer journey mapping before even attempting to transform customer expectations with unique technology initiatives like E-Commerce Platform Integration Services in Pakistan.
Blindly playing retail catch-up is a losing game. In particular, not to forget that E-Commerce Platforms in Pakistan evolve rapidly. Retailers must rise to the customer-first challenge to deliver holistic customer experiences that set the bar in the same way’s digital natives Amazon and Warby Parker already have by pushing back on the squeeze from both monoliths and surprisingly fierce upstarts.