Technology as a key in building an omnichannel experience in the retail industry
The use of technology and the digital revolution have significantly transformed consumer behavior. Moreover, the pandemic has greatly boosted e-commerce, making it an integral part of the retail industry.
It is important to keep in mind that the pandemic has revolutionized sales processes and impacted consumer habits. Online shopping will continue to dominate the retail industry and take on new forms of continuity. However, it is remarkable that physical stores have considerably strengthened again since 2023. The pessimism around commerce in physical stores has been balanced in an environment where digital and physical are equally significant. According to a study by Zippia, as of 2022, 94% of consumers have returned to shopping at physical stores in the US.
This trend, which is still growing worldwide, is rethinking the future of retail. A future in which retail businesses must move agilely and find new ways to overcome challenges, showing adaptability to market changes. So, what new approach do retail businesses need to take not to be left behind along the way? Let’s go over some key strategies.
Create an Omnichannel Experience
According to Amazon, omnichannel experience refers to “a customer-centric approach that integrates all channels, providing a unified and consistent brand experience across physical stores, apps, and websites.” (Amazon, 2022). This revolutionary term is marking a new practice in the retail industry by seeking to balance and create consistency in all the channels of a brand, considering the habits of consumers and promoting a general strategy where integrated and homogeneous purchases occur, resulting in a quality experience in all channels.
Physical stores will always be key points of contact and an exclusive opportunity to enhance the value proposition for the customer with a commensurate service. Retailers are now looking to focus on their digital and physical efforts to elevate the customer experience even further, taking advantage of technology and adapting to their consumer habits.
Here are some of the keys that retail businesses should follow to improve their omnichannel experience:
Use customer data to personalize the experience at every touchpoint, from the physical store to the app, offering personalized recommendations and exclusive offers. For this, it is important to know the customer and adapt the purchase process to their needs.
Maintain a consistent brand image across all channels, from in-store to online presence, to strengthen customer recognition and loyalty.
Elevate customer service
Optimizing the omnichannel experience involves training store staff in digital skills to provide effective advice, ensuring a smooth transition between channels. According to a Zendesk study, 64% of consumers expect real-time support, highlighting the need to cohesively integrate digital and in-person experiences into customer service. To achieve this unification, retail chains must commit to digitalization, implementing advanced systems and innovative tools such as chatbots and self-service machines, which will strengthen cohesion between channels and improve the overall consumer experience.
Staying on top of the latest technology and consumer trends to incorporate innovations that keep the brand relevant and exciting for consumers.
What technological capabilities should the retail sector prioritize to foster an omnichannel experience?
Retail brands in this new omnichannel model must create efforts to adopt an agile operating model in both the digital and physical spheres. Technology here is a fundamental pillar because a fluid digital experience also requires raising technological capabilities through modern technological infrastructures, advanced systems, high-level equipment and more. This is where retail businesses must worry about leaving aside obsolete architectures and implementing technological renewal plans through digital solutions that optimize processes, generate cost savings and raise brand value in all channels.
Here are some of the most important and basic points where retail businesses can improve their capabilities:
Automated Point of Sale
Implementing automation technologies at physical points of sale is important in an omnichannel experience, for example, automatic payment systems or self-service points can be integrated. Not only do these solutions streamline the buying process, but they also reduce friction between channels.
Augmented Reality AR
The potential of augmented reality in the future is immense. The implementation of augmented and virtual reality technologies can enhance the shopping experience in both physical and online stores. With AR, customers can try out products virtually, creating an in-store-like shopping experience without leaving their homes.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a crucial ally in the evolution towards a more efficient omnichannel experience. With the ability to provide instant answers to common queries, offer personalized recommendations, and improve problem resolution, AI is an essential integration into the retail environment. For a retail sector that seeks to operate with optimized models, inventory management through AI becomes a strategic pillar. Also, the ability to analyze large amounts of data related to the market, consumption habits and trends provides valuable information for informed decision-making and agile adaptation to market dynamics.
Security and Data Protection
In the digital age of retail, data protection continues to be a major issue. The huge growth of e-commerce exposes customers to increased cyber risks during their online shopping processes. For this reason, implementing robust security and privacy measures becomes essential to building and maintaining customer trust. Currently, providing cybersecurity measures is not only a requirement to comply with regulations on e-commerce platforms but also becomes a commitment to the integrity and privacy of consumer data.
In the retail landscape, it’s crucial to keep up with the latest trends. Following the pandemic, shopping habits have changed, making it crucial for retail businesses to modernize their strategies and fully embrace the omnichannel experience across all channels.
Knowing your customers is a competitive advantage. Understanding what they’re looking for and where they are allows us to adapt to their changing needs. An agile operating model is key in fast-paced retail competition.
In the coming year, focusing on adapting business models that integrate digital and physical is essential. Maintaining connected shopping experiences, fueled by technology capabilities, is the way forward. Innovation never stops, tools keep growing, and to stand out from the competition, retailers need to make a difference. Making the most of what digital channels and physical stores offer is crucial to highlight in the market and meet changing customer needs.
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Flynn, J. (2023, may 12). 21 Compelling Retail Statistics : How many retailers are in the US? Zippia. <https://www.zippia.com/advice/retail-statistics/>
Amazon. (2022). What is omnichannel Marketing? Definition, examples, and tips. Amazon Ads. <https://advertising.amazon.com/library/guides/omnichannel-marketing#:~:text=%E2%80%9COmnichannel%20strategy%E2%80%9D%20refers%20to%20a,brick%2Dand%2Dmortar%20touchpoints>
Da Silva, D. (2022, August 5). The omnichannel experience as a key strategy to build loyalty. Zendesk MX. <https://www.zendesk.com.mx/blog/experiencia-omnicanal/>