Invest in technology (wisely)
eCommerce is truly all about smart investment. So often, brands either overinvest or underinvest in technology and, as a result, end up without the return on investment they were expecting. When it comes to choosing how your brand is going to invest in digital, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean going down the Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality path, and blowing an ungodly amount of cash on the latest technological advancements. Instead, it could mean making sure that your online store is fully optimised for mobile. Or implementing an omnichannel strategy so that your customers can order online, and pick up in-store, or order in-store and have items delivered to their home. Or maybe it means utilising online marketplaces to clear overstock at the end of a season. In reality, it’s probably a combination of all these things. The bottom line is that it’s no longer a question of if you should be investing in technology. It’s a question of how you should be investing.
Create a stellar customer experience
The adoption of digital into your retail strategy should never be something that dilutes your brand, but instead amplifies it. It’s absolutely possible to give your customers a fantastic online and offline experience while still remaining true to your brand values. And we’re not just talking about creating a stunning online store that has all of the bells and whistles that will have shoppers flocking to it. We’re talking about the importance of human interaction in the customer journey. When you have an online and offline offering, it’s inevitable that customers will, at some point have to deal with a human (be it a customer service advisor through online chat, or a sales advisor in-store). We cannot stress enough just how important it is to ensure that all staff, both online and offline are fully trained and equipped to help shoppers at any point along the customer journey. Once again – online and offline need to be viewed as one unified entity. It’s essentially the difference between these two scenarios:
Scenario 1: A customer arrives at a store to collect their online order and a well-trained member of staff being able to not only fulfil that order but also make suggestions on other items that have arrived into the store based on that shopper’s order history.
Scenario 2: A customer arrives at a store to collect their online order and a member of staff has no idea how to check if the order has arrived to the store, so they spend 20 minutes in the back searching for a package. Meanwhile, the customer taps their foot, repeatedly glances at their watch and promises themselves that they’ll never make another click and collect order again.
Test, test…then test some more
Testing is the key to discovering what does and doesn’t work for your brand both online and offline. What works wonders for one brand might bomb for another, so as you introduce new technology and features to your audience, it’s vital that you launch, analyse and iterate. The more you know about your audience and their expectations, the greater chance you have of not just reaching, but exceeding them. You should be testing shipping and logistics methods to payment processes, to shopping cart abandonment campaigns, and everything in between. eCommerce moves fast, and your customers move even faster, so make sure that you’re running right alongside them at all times.
When we look at the future of retail, it would be unrealistic (not to mention naïve) to think that the high-street will look exactly the same as it does now in 20 years’ time. But is that reason to simply accept that the death of the high-street is ‘just the way things have to be’? Perhaps if more brands start to embrace digital and redefine the word ‘retail’ so that it automatically incorporates ‘eCommerce’ into its meaning, the ‘bricks versus clicks’ tide might finally turn, paving the way for a new wave of shopping as we know it.
Thank you to all of the retailers who took part in the Retail X Roundtable event. Stay tuned for more Kooomo events coming your way soon!
What do you think – is the high-street doomed, or could the future of retail still include physical stores? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Get in touch through any of our social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn using the hashtag #futureofretail.