Consumer expectations are evolving when it comes to shopping. After more than a year of social distancing, comfort levels with online shopping are soaring. But that doesn’t mean customers are choosing e-commerce over brick-and-mortar stores. Rather, they expect retailers to provide a seamlessly integrated mix of online and offline shopping options.
Meeting – and exceeding – today’s customer experience expectations begin and end with the shopping experience. Three in four customers make their purchase decisions based on the shopping experience, regardless of price and product selection. For better or worse, experience drives sales and loyalty. Seventy-three percent of customers report spending more than they originally planned because of the experience. On the flip side, 59 percent say they stopped shopping with a retailer after poor shopping experiences.
So, how can retailers create and deliver experiences that stand out? What types of shopping experiences attract new customers and strengthen relationships with existing customers? Sometimes the best place to start is by exploring what not to do.
Don’t ignore the customer experience trends.
Shoppers have high expectations – and they’re getting higher. Half of consumers say their expectations are significantly higher today compared to three years ago. Experts agree that experiential retail is here to stay. As you consider how to enhance your store’s omnichannel shopping – aka integrated in-store and online experiences – put an emphasis on the basics – products, staff, and point-of-sale (POS).
Eight in ten consumers say convenience, speed, and knowledgeable, friendly service are the most important parts of their experience. Optimize your POS system to provide a stand-out experience and empower your in-store team.
Sales happen when you have the items customers want on hand. Choose a POS system with robust inventory management capabilities that centralize, integrate, and automate your inventory. Having an accurate, real-time view across brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels does more than just tell you how many items are in stock. It also provides crucial data points on what’s selling, fluctuations in customer demand, and seasonal buying trends. Make the most of automation to trigger orders from key vendor partners based on specified reorder points by item, inventory turnover rates, and the lead time required.
Retail research shows that today’s consumers consider human interaction an essential part of a good shopping experience. Eighty-two percent of shoppers say they want more human interaction in the future. At the same time, they expect retailers to leverage technology to make experiences easier. One effective way to combine human interaction and technology is by putting the power of your POS system at your team’s fingertips. Using a tablet or smartphone, Mobile POS capabilities enable retail salespeople to access customer profiles, look up inventory, and process sales transactions without leaving a customer’s side.
Point of sale experience:
When they’re ready to check out, customers want a range of payment options. In fact, if a retailer doesn’t offer a customer’s preferred payment option, almost half of consumers won’t make the purchase. Digital payments, such as tap-to-pay credit and debit cards, digital wallets, and mobile payments, have already replaced cash as the most used payment option. Make sure your POS system’s payment processing capabilities keep you ahead of digital and mobile payment trends. In the future, 68 percent of consumers say they expect to shop more at stores that accept payments via digital wallets.
Related: 8 Ways to Put the Wow in Your Point-of-Sale Experience
Don’t treat all customers alike.
The days of one-size-fits-all customer experiences are gone for good. Now, retailers use customer data and technology tools to provide personalized shopping experiences that customers appreciate, remember, and recommend. Eight in ten shoppers are willing to trade information about themselves for a more personalized retail experience.
Having an integrated POS system that brings together customer data from e-commerce and brick-and-mortar channels in real-time is essential. Then, make strategic use of the information with detailed customer profiles, customer segmentation, and targeted marketing. Plus, get creative with your customer loyalty programs by mixing rewards and discounts with exclusive VIP events and early access to new products.
Related: How to Improve Customer Experience Using POS Data
Don’t rely on what worked in the past.
Retailers differentiate themselves with experiences that make customers take notice. While consistent, high-quality service will always be part of an exceptional shopping experience, smart retailers are upping their experience game.
Aim for a blend of sharing your expertise and having fun. Create opportunities to bring customers together – in-person and virtually – to attract people into your store and inspire a sense of community. For example, toy and hobby stores can encourage shoppers to try out products by playing with toys, building a model, or challenging each other to a game. Or retailers can host classes that help customers develop skills, like quilt-making, wine tasting, or accessorizing. For ongoing interactions, create a customer club – like a bicycle shop creating a cycling club or a clothing retailer creating a fashionista club. Along with the camaraderie, give club members special access to expert speakers or opportunities to test merchandise you’re thinking of stocking.
The possibilities are endless. But before you worry that event planning could become a full-time job, take a look at how your POS system can help. The best POS systems offer capabilities that streamline and automate tasks to help you create classes, track attendance, collect fees, and even bundle and sell related materials.
Related: Customer Experience Counts: How to Make Your Store A Destination
POSIM is a point-of-sale and inventory management system with the tools you need to deliver customer experiences that stand out. Explore what’s possible with POSIM. Contact us for a demo.