Retail is never set in stone. Success in the industry, be it ecommerce or brick-and-mortar, relies understanding customers’ core values and connecting with the right technology.
Explore how physical and digital spaces can unlock amazing customer experiences (CX) in 2022.
The state of brick-and-mortar
Brick-and-mortar, physical retail locations, rely on being interactive spaces. Customers feel the product and build relationships with the brand.
These attractions took a hit in the pandemic. In the wake of several factors not limited to COVID-19, including the rise of ecommerce, research from UBS predicts that around 80,000 retail stores may shut down permanently by 2026.
Customers still want in-person experiences; nearly half of respondents in a recent survey by Raydiant prefer physical experiences when given the choice. But the recent CX landscape has shown that customers desire quick and easy customer service on multiple channels for research, availability, and general information.
It’s a juggling act that many retailers want, and need, to balance.
Brick-and-mortar success in 2022
Digital transformation is here to stay but it doesn’t mean physical experiences are leaving. Acquiring and retaining customers relies on a physical retailer’s ability to merge the two together effectively. In 2019, we wrote that success in the traditional retail environment rested on three values (and despite the pandemic it hasn’t changed):
- Accessibility through technology: Using conversational messaging creates personal and informative two-way conversations between employees and customers to answer a wide-range of question on the go, anytime, anywhere.
- Educating and building awareness: The pandemic has touched every aspect of life, and everyone has a story to tell. Brands who understand their audience and explain how their products bring in a human value can beat a competitor’s price and location.
- Interactive moments: Experiential retail can be successful without a person ever buying a product. If consumers walk away with positive memories, they will be likely to recommend or share the experience with others.
A successful brick-and-mortar retailer understands the need to provide relevant and impactful experiences into their everyday interactions, through technology, people, or both.
The state of ecommerce
Ecommerce, or online retail transactions, lives on digital channels. In ecommerce, traditional retail, subscription services, and hybrid models have moved beyond the storefront to serve customers on a growing omnichannel environment.
And ecommerce has thrived in the pandemic. Online spending accounted for nearly 20 percent of all retail sales in 2020, amidst a total of $791.70 billion spent online with U.S. merchants, according to Digital Commerce 360.
Digital retail is an attractive option for customers on the go, at-home, and everywhere in-between. But the ease of online shopping has also made it easier to switch brand loyalties at a whim. Ecommerce brands are constantly competing in a competitive landscape where the next best deal is only a click away.
Retail success in 2022
A successful omnichannel retail strategy needs to be a seamless, meaningful, experiential. Customers crave the ease and effectiveness that tools such as messaging and AI bring, but technology introduced only because it is flashy is ineffective. Following these three steps can help create an effective balance:
- Be nimble: Use data analytics to spot business trends and react swiftly to reputation issues, assortment opportunities, and supply chain activities.
- Humanity + technology: Automation can provide customer self-service and alleviate processes that eat up time with virtual assistants that focus on the simple interactions so associates can focus on the problems that demand empathy.
- Eliminate effort: Connect all systems into one integrated platform that allows associates to provide seamless service, whether your customer is looking for product specifications, preparing for a store visit, or needs to address concerns.
In retail, less effort equals more happy. Simplifying the customer journey in retail creates effortless experiences. When serving customers, create experiences that leave a positive impression of your brand through technology and people.
Remain agile in the face of change
Success for every retailer will look different in 2022, but almost all of them rely on one trait to get to there: Agility.
CX innovator and speaker Don Peppers best put it as, “One lesson that businesses have learned from all the frenetic activity undertaken during the first year of the pandemic is that ‘agile’ management principles are no longer just for software vendors and startups. Agility is quickly and gratefully embraced by any organization wishing to survive a dramatic, unforeseen existential threat, and the results have been remarkable.”
Physical or digital, retailers who want to succeed and win the loyalty of their customers need to remain nimble and ready for change. Your customers are constantly evolving, and so should you.
To learn more
5 retail strategies that are here to stay: Explore retail strategies that are defining the industry and unlocking success on all fronts.
COVID: Opportunity Within Crisis: Find bright spots from the past year that will influence better CX in the future.
5 key strategies for retailers this holiday season: Discover 5 customer experience strategies needed for retailers to succeed with customers and improve the bottom line this holiday season.
Send a Clear Message to Customers: Messaging trends for a connected customer future.
Digital Training Transformation Sets Retailer up for CX Success: TTEC redesigned a retailer’s training curriculum, enabling the client to train new agents, upskill current agents, provide refresher training, and remain resilient.