Mobile now plays an integral role in all parts of the omnichannel shopping journey. Across in-store and online key changes are being wrought by mobile, writes Paul Skeldon.
Today anyone looking to create an omnichannel strategy has to work marketplaces into what they do. Like them or not, Amazon and eBay already attract about 40% of online retail traffic in the UK – they are where your customers are shopping. While marketplaces deliver customer numbers, there are also other reasons why they should also be part of the omnichannel mix. For starters, they are a good way to mobilise content, the marketplace doing the work both in terms of apps, PWAs and indeed good old-fashioned websites. There is also the added advantage that marketplaces can provide an ideal way to extend a retailer’s reach into other territories – especially if the retailer selects local ones. This can at a swoop overcome much of the grunt work of entering a new market: language, currency, logistics and returns.
Amazon Go – the automated, mobile-powered pilot shop in the US – has kickstarted something that retailers should have done long ago: get rid of queuing to pay. If you want t trend in retail to pin your hopes on in 2018, it’s going checkout-less. In the UK, the Co-op is trialling ‘shop, scan and go’ technology at its own store in its service centre in Manchester. ‘Big four’ – possibly soon to be part of the ‘Big three’ – grocery store Sainsbury’s is also working on a scan, pay and go app add-on, while Austrian electronics store MediaMarktSaturn, has also developed a scan and pay app at its flagship store in Innsbruck. The reality is, Amazon hit on the one thing we all hate about shops: queuing. The genius thing is that many retailers are realising that you don’t need billions of dollars investment in AI to make it happen – you can do it with some QR scanning, payments processing, an app and a bit of trust. And suddenly, the in-store experience is on the up.
At least half of UK consumers have had an in-store experience ruined as a result of queuing in-store, with Londoners twice as likely to have had more than 10 bad experiences this year alone. So finds research conducted by Qudini, a SaaS customer experience management platform, which also suggests that making better use of mobile devices and social media could go some way to stopping this happening. So why not try and kill off queues altogether? Mobile Ticket enables retailers to significantly improve the in-store customer experience by enabling shoppers to use their mobile device to select a service and join a virtual queue, without needing to stand in a physical line, the company says. Customers open a web app, or scan a QR code if they prefer, and select the service they require, such as the collection of online orders in store, a meeting with an expert, personal or VIP shopping, and customer services. This eliminates the friction of waiting in line and maximises the opportunity to browse, increasing basket, customer satisfaction scores and brand loyalty. Job done.
Aside from killing off the queuing nightmare that makes in-store a bit of a no-no for many people, especially the youngsters, shopping in-store and to some extent online needs to be an experience, rather than a chore. For some customers, the reality of in-store shopping can be frustrating when preferences and past experiences are not seamlessly connected, as they usually are with mobile-first brands. This, combined with cross-channel inconsistency and lack of personalised experience is just one reason why customers prefer to shop off the high-street. Retailers must abandon orthodox strategies to leverage the value of technology to deliver a unified shopping experience across the full spectrum of customer touchpoints. European fashion retailer, Mango is a prime example of the brand that is set to merge the two realities of the online world and physical retail, as part of the digital transformation programme. Shoppers visiting Mango’s store in Barcelona will soon be able to use fitting rooms featuring a digital mirror which will allow them to contact staff directly, request sizes, colours as well as pick the recommended items to complements the consumers’ original choice.