Technology has played a huge role in the modern world of retail, with brands investing heavily in solutions aimed at improving all areas of their business. Not surprisingly, a recent report from LoyaltyOne, “CX Intention vs. Impact,” which surveyed retailers and customers on how customer experience (CX) efforts resonate with consumers, found that technology and data are also huge priorities going forward.
By Adriana Masson, Director of IT, LoyaltyOne Global Solutions
According to the study, retailers are testing and building a massive array of customer-facing and back-office retail technologies, but what areas will have the most impact on improving CX? The answer may very well be at the point of purchase, where tech hardware and mobile experiences are both underutilized. If you are looking to make improvements to your CX through technology, here is a quick look at the two major areas you should focus your investment.
Bring tech “front of house”
The LoyaltyOne report found that in-store technology still has a low rate of adoption and does not factor highly when shoppers consider returning to a store; only 8 percent of customers said they use in-store tech when making a purchase. This is likely because to date most retailers’ tech focus has been on backroom or operations-focused applications like associate wearables, supply chain management and others. However, customers who have interacted with in-store technology had an overwhelmingly positive experience. Of customers surveyed, 71 percent reported a high satisfaction rate with those interactions. And 66 percent reported that in-store technology is important in their future purchase decisions, which means it’s time to begin investing in areas like digital screens, tablets, QR codes, price checkers and more. As robotics and virtual assistants become more prevalent, new tech like AI and geo-location beacons will bring in-store personalization to new levels, making it increasingly important for retailers to deploy these new tools in ways that remove friction or add value and utility.
Embrace Mobile Payment
Emerging markets are often an indicator for what to expect elsewhere, and China is indicating that the time for mobile payment is already here. According to CNBC, mobile payments in China, led by Alipay and WeChat, doubled in 2016. Not surprisingly, the LoyaltyOne report found customers reported higher mobile payment use than elsewhere, 16 percent of them reporting that they tap or scan a smartphone in-store to make a purchase.
Seamlessness is a key element to excellent CX, and mobile payment is a terrific way to speed up the checkout experience. The technology is still relatively new, but as mobile penetration grows everywhere, and as banks and mobile providers work together to mainstream mobile payment options, the need to integrate it into your system will soon be a must. If you don’t start offering it soon, you’re missing out on the chance to earn plaudits from your customers. And mobile payment has benefits beyond improved seamlessness at checkout — it also provides an opportunity to introduce new, exciting pay options like installment payments, supported by technology for real-time credit approvals.
Technology has and will continue to improve how retailers manage stock, interact with employees and handle internal processes, but as you evaluate your tech investment for 2018, be sure to remember that it can also improve your customer experience. Mobile payment and in-store innovations like touch screens and AI are just the beginning.
If you’re interested in learning more about the current state of CX in the world of retail, be sure to download the full LoyaltyOne report, which is available here.