The store experience is a significant focus for retailers, which are looking to leverage digital tools and technologies to make in-store shopping more personalized and relevant, according to eMarketer’s new report, “Customer Experience 2017: The Journey Toward Customer-Centricity Continues” (available only to eMarketer PRO subscribers).
In December 2016, Digimarc and Planet Retail found that 44.0% of retail executives in Germany, Japan, the UK and the US said improving in-store experiences was a strategic priority for the next year, making it the most common such priority.
When asked by iVend Retail in November 2016 what would improve the in-store shopping experience, internet users in North America pointed to free Wi-Fi and in-store kiosks—tools that would help them gain more information about products—over things like personalized promotions.
But customer-facing technologies aren’t the only way for retailers to work on the in-store experience.
Retailers worldwide surveyed in June 2016 by Retail Systems Research (RSR) were looking to educate and empower employees by using technology—as well as finding ways to make them more productive in general.
The in-store experience—and how it connected with digital—was a major focus of the ecommerce redesign product agency Work & Co. did for shoes and accessories retailer The Aldo Group.
“Our consumers go online to prep their shopping before coming into our stores,” said Grégoire Baret, Aldo’s general manager of omnichannel experience. “So we have an obligation to consider the website and ecommerce as informing and inspiring potential store shopping.”
At Aldo, online shopping carts aren’t just connected to mobile, but also to in-store tech at the fingertips of employees who are able to assist with a final try-on, he explained.
Listen to analyst Nicole Perrin discuss the customer-centered approach marketers are taking in the latest episode of eMarketer’s “Behind the Numbers.”
Many of marketers’ goals for the customer experience include deeper connections between channels. For example, the No. 1 digital experience goal among senior marketers worldwide surveyed by the CMO Council and IBM in H2 2016 was better connecting campaigns into a comprehensive experience. No. 2 was tying the customer journey together across digital and traditional media.
Those kinds of experiences must be powered by data, of course, and 29% of respondents noted they planned to bring on more resources and tech to manage it better and help automate experiences.
On the flip side of the channel divide, omnichannel integration was also the No. 1 priority for retailers in North America at the point of sale, according to a January 2017 report from Boston Retail Partners and Manhattan Associates.
The emphasis on omnichannel isn’t surprising: Marketers are people, too, and many of them are digital natives who are used to having omnichannel experiences themselves. “I think they understand and value that as consumers, so they want to bring aspects of those experiences into their customer journey,” said Rachel Bogan, product management partner at Work & Co.
Pointing to the example of Work & Co.’s recent omnichannel experience project for Aldo, Baret emphasized that a large share of shopping at Aldo is cross-channel, especially involving online or mobile research followed by trips to the store. “We’re here to connect people with the right product and inspiration either to buy [online] or to go shop later in the store,” he said, pointing to persistent shopping carts and other tools that can help make the experience seamless.