There was a stark lesson learned by businesses and retailers during the global shutdowns from coronavirus: a sluggish adoption of ecommerce left them ill prepared to handle an influx of online-only buyers. Investing in customer focused digital experiences was a mere afterthought for a number of businesses before the pandemic. Even during the global crisis, those who have made the commitment to invest in digital avenues have come out on top. Companies that aggressively targeted marketing and promotion in the first month of lockdown saw a 70% increase in year-on-year sales growth. As the restrictions subside, retailers must put priority on the uptake of new technologies and methods to make sure that all customers can locate what they are looking for and in the ways suited to their unique needs.
Forrester states that a mere 52% of retail businesses believe that they have adequate technology in place for omnichannel. Customers embraced the switch to digital shopping in the early stages of the pandemic. With such a vast number of retailers behind in technology the question becomes what the priorities should be to support growth and retain customer loyalty.
4 Post-Covid Key Technologies
Click and Collect
If your business has a physical store, adding click and collect is vital for omnichannel experiences. Throughout the pandemic, American giant Target realised a 500% year on year growth when it came to store pickups in the first half of the year. From small to large businesses, click and collect allows customers to acquire what they need quickly without needing to actually enter a store.
Omnichannel Customer Service
Consumers need support from your business throughout the journey toward their purchase. This is true right from the consideration phase through to the after sale. Businesses should implement solutions that guide consumers across their life cycle. For the consideration phase, (within industries that typically require customers to come into a store to make final decisions such as furniture) securing an appointment with an instore expert already meant that the customer had provided information about their wants and needs. This had the effect of shortening the time spent in store.
Retailers and businesses should create personalised but still entirely self service online experiences to support customers through troubleshooting or repairs in order to extend the customer journey and be held as an actively engaged and supportive company that a customer will return to.
AI-Driven Conversational Ecommerce
Consumers seek personalised guidance based on their unique needs when they do their shopping online. It’s extremely important for retailers to use technology that is built to assist customers in real-time without relying on actual customer support personnel. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and the current landscape within online retail doesn’t narrow down available choices or provide personalised recommendations based on the customer’s individual needs.
AI powered conversational search uses the power of questions to identify the right product for the consumer.
Embrace social selling on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. If you can’t engage in store, social media brings your product right to where people are – on their phones! 90% of Facebook and Instagram accounts follow at least one business account which means that customers do engage with brands and products that they enjoy. There is huge potential to integrate digital and conversational commerce across multiple social platforms.