By Rieva Lesonsky
The future of retail is online, mobile and social, reports a recent Motorola Solutions survey reported by Marketing Charts. U.S. retailers polled predict that within the next five years, nearly half (42 percent) of retail sales will come from online, mobile and social commerce sites. To keep customers visiting their stores in the face of this trend, 75 percent of retailers say developing a “more engaging in-store customer experience” will be essential, and more than 40 percent plan to provide personalized product details to customers’ smartphones based on their prior browsing or purchasing behavior.
Better customer service is the core goal for retailers in the survey, with 51 percent saying they will invest in new technology to improve their customer service.
But there’s a big difference between what retailers want to do and what they can currently do. Although the retailers polled want to customize their in-store experience to each shopper, three-fourths of them admitted they currently have no way to know when a specific customer visits their store, 85 percent don’t know how to customize a store visit, and 89 percent can’t link shoppers’ online actions to their in-store behavior.
Among the technology retailers plan to deploy in the next five years is mobile or portable POS technology manned by clerks. Currently only 9 percent of retailers offer this, but 18 percent plan to add it. And 12 percent plan to offer customers the ability to self-checkout on their own mobile device (just 4 percent currently do).
So far, about one-third of retailers offer consumers the ability to buy on a mobile device in-store and have a product shipped to them. More than half (59 percent) say they will offer this within five years.
There are some ways you can improve customer service without any technology. Two in five retailers surveyed said not being able to find something they came to buy is a top complaint among customers. Simply helping customers find products or order them if you don’t have them in stock is one easy way to improve satisfaction.
Marketing Charts also noted that most customers prefer to be recognized in-store in person, not via technology. Simply greeting customers as they come in or browse, or setting up a frequent or preferred shopper program where you can greet customers by name as they check out, can improve customers’ experience in your store.
Last, but not least, integrate your in-store and ecommerce experience. Allow customers to buy online and return at your store; buy online and have it shipped to your store for pickup; or order in-store and have it shipped to them.
How are you keeping customers happy?
Image by Flickr user cogdogblog (Creative Commons)