After many years of speculation about how big online retail might get and whether bricks and mortar stores would survive the challenge, a new and unexpected trend is emerging.
Online merchants are now rushing to open physical stores, as the ability of customers to touch and feel products becomes the latest competitive differentiator in a world where consumers are now utterly spoilt for choice.
At the same time, traditional businesses are scrambling to build out their online presence.
Yet with online trade set to continue growing its share of the bigger pie, the hybrid retail model is emerging as the gold standard for delivering a truly great customer-centric experience that keeps people coming back.
“Customers want experiences that are relevant and frictionless.”
Pure online players now have new and promising opportunities to build more personalized and meaningful relationships with their customers. They also have the advantage of having amassed rich reservoirs of customer data to further hone their messages and deliver more targeted and responsive communications in-store.
Meanwhile, traditional businesses are looking outwards to entirely new markets and new customers. Tapping into digital channels, including social media, also opens doors to establish new connections and collect market data to then feed back into improving both online and in-store experiences.
Known as the ‘unified customer experience’, this strategy is centered around being able to identify the customer and access important data about them at every interaction, via any channel.
In its essence, offering a unified customer experience means breaking down silos and harnessing data to ensure that each and every customer has a consistent experience across every touch point they have with a business.
This means more than just ensuring all communications with customers have the same tone and style. It also means using data about a customer’s demographics, preferences and order history to tailor their customer experience, regardless of whether their transaction is happening in the physical world or online.
Augmented and virtual reality technologies are also looming large on the horizon. Both have potential to let customers view different products, colours and sizes from multiple perspectives and with information over layed, while potentially sharing that information with friends – or colleagues – via social media.
HelpJess and the team has been working very hard to combine the above into one simple application, that will be coming your way very soon.