Emerging technologies have allowed consumers to connect their smartphones in almost any area of their life.
Mobile apps that were once built for simple daily chores such as text messaging can now be connected to smart homes, wearable technology, and virtual reality devices. This innovation has been driven by the ability to share and connect data in real time, and it is estimated that the mobile market will grow to $189 billion by 2020.
Retailers have largely already addressed the first stage of mobile integration, through developing apps which consumers can make purchases through, but are now looking at new ways to further innovate and take full advantage of emerging mobile technology to better serve their customers and stand out from competitors. However, most of the traditional brick and mortar retailers are still struggling to innovate, as they are also being pushed by the speed of innovation coming from technology giants such as Amazon.
It should come as no surprise that digitally-focused technology companies such as Amazon and ASOS have been at the forefront of developing successful, intuitive apps for mobile devices, while the traditional brick and mortar retailers have lagged behind, weighed down by legacy systems.
While some high street retailers, such as John Lewis, have made progress developing e-commerce platforms, the real challenge for most brick and mortar retailers is to use data and mobile technology to connect consumers with their products and services in store.
To build an omnichannel retail offering, connecting the offline and online experiences, retailers must look beyond straightforward e-commerce apps selling consumers their products, and explore how they can use mobile technology to enhance the Customer Experience in their stores and improve services in real time.
One example of an innovation that can achieve this heightened Customer Experience is mobile ticketing. With retailers increasingly looking to deliver seamless CX, those with multiple queuing points may be able to reduce the friction that consumers experience through placing them in a virtual queue.
With an app or QR codes placed around the store, customers can open a web page on their phone, select the service they require, then join a virtual queue. They can then browse the store, safe in the knowledge they will be notified when it is their turn to be served. This can help to improve the overall Customer Experience and potentially increase sales. It’s a great example of how the online and offline experience can be integrated into one combined journey.
This leads to better customer satisfaction, which means that consumers are more likely to come back and recommend the services to friends and family.
In-store customers retrieving their online order are another area in which innovative mobile technology can enable retailers to offer a seamless experience. The convenience of selecting items and paying online, then picking up the goods at a time and location of their preference without the hassle of waiting for a delivery or queueing in a busy store, appeals to a growing number of online consumers.
In addition, technology developments for store services such as click and collect can allow consumers to check in either by a self-service kiosk or mobile-enabled staff member at the door who can ‘quick serve’ their needs. This check-in notifies staff in-store so that their order can be located and retrieved ready for collection.
Similar to the mobile ticketing solution, consumers can browse the store, while the system informs them through text messages, offering directions to the collection area or equivalent when the order is ready to be picked up. This can open the possibility and convenience of a seamless and connected shopping experience, again without the hassle of waiting for a delivery service or queuing during a busy period at a store. In addition, it also allows consumers to collect their goods at their convenience whenever and almost wherever they want.
Innovative mobile technology can also enable retailers to monitor their services much more accurately, for example if they see several people joining a virtual queue, they can allocate more staff to that service and make sure the customer service is seamless and as effective as possible, rather than reacting to a rush hour when it happens all at once. It also allows retailers to get direct feedback from customers much more easily. This in return helps retailers to improve their services when an issue arises in real time.
In order to offer a seamless and integrated journey, retailers must look beyond the omnichannel experience and see each consumer journey as integrated experiences, across online and offline channels and platforms. Emerging mobile technologies and the speed at which they are developing present a significant opportunity for the retail industry to flourish in.
It reflects a new era of speed and convenience, which the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers can adapt to by shaping their offerings to meet consumers’ individual and personalised needs at the right place and at the right time.