By Vlad Yakubson, Head Of Retail, Yd.
There are not many days in the calendar year without some new ground-breaking technology entering and disturbing the retail marketplace. It certainly can not be easy for either the big brands or the few small business retailers left around to continue to compete at such a high level.
The question is and continues to be—how do you keep up with all the tech advances and continue to pour millions of dollars into R&D and implementation within the retail market?
It certainly has become a lot easier for boards to approve high level spends on the latest promised enhancement tools in retail. Everything from gamification, virtual reality, AI, AR, chatbots and video tools promise to deliver a better customer experience 2020 and beyond. Here is the real question though, do all these new technological gadgets deliver a better customer experience and the ROI promised?
How many times do you walk past a business with glitches in all things digital?
Let us try to keep things simple in this tech-savvy market. Customers go through a journey with a brand, and that does involve technology. Without a doubt brands that can afford the latest tech, can potentially stand out more, target their customers better and perhaps deliver a better journey.
But does it guarantee a customer that interacts and transacts with the business?
My contention is that the latest technology continues to enhance the customer journey. The overall experience though, is driven by the front-facing retail teams and the people behind the scenes that make the experience a positive one. There are certain industries that the evolving technological products really do provide a better customer experience and offer businesses more efficiency. However, most transactions are still completed by customers in bricks and mortar stores. Somewhere between eight to nine out of 10 customers are still transacting in an old fashion way.
Technology Can Deliver An Enhanced Experience, But It Is Not The Deal-Breaker For The Overall Business Success
I started this article by saying this is the battle of David & Goliath. With Millennials and -post-millennials continuing favour transacting through online, retail brands must embrace the tech advances to stay competitive both in the present and the future. But regardless of which article or survey you read, a customer purchase is not only a journey, it is an emotional experience. Where there is emotion, there is a role for the retail teams and human contact to play.
Technology can deliver an enhanced experience, but it is not the deal-breaker for the overall business success. By the time a brand rolls one new tech out, a better more scaled version becomes available.
It is hard and challenging to keep up. That is why so many pure online players continue to open brick and mortar stores. Once again proving tech advancements will aid but not be the defining factor for the success of a business.
On the upside, the latest tech offers convenience, efficiency and a better understanding of the customer experience. This advantage will help businesses get it right more often.
Focus on your customer journey, a seamless experience and always deliver on what your business says it will. Keep it simple, and your customer will continue to stay loyal, regardless of where you are up to with the latest tech