Expectations of retailers’ customer experience (CX) are higher than ever. Consider, 75 percent of consumers say they would stop shopping with a brand following a bad experience. Walmart is long considered an innovator regarding in-store CX, and its latest activations include everything from Pickup Towers and autonomous floor cleaning robots to the launch of the DotCom store. These technological updates are intended to improve areas of friction in customers’ shopping journeys to create a seamless and enjoyable experience.
Remaining competitive through similar technological adoption may seem out of reach for smaller retailers that feel increasing pressure from large rivals with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). Many retailers don’t have the budget to integrate the same level of technology as Walmart, putting their businesses at risk as consumers increasingly come to expect Walmart-level service. Fortunately, there's more lightweight technology available for smaller retailers to improve their CX. The key is to appeal to customers on a personal level, using pre-existing technology and retraining staff to create the kind of personalized in-store shopping experience that 59 percent of consumers believe have a noticeable impact on purchasing.
Leveraging Social Platforms
Leveraging the power of free platforms, particularly social media and mobile payments, are all options for retailers looking to improve their technology-driven CX. One example would be using Facebook and WhatsApp messaging tools to share promotions, upcoming events and new products. Combined, these tools create an integrated digital experience tailor-made to suit the shopping needs of the next generation.
Using social platforms also opens the door to creating a two-way conversation with customers. Consumers’ main motivation for leaving negative comments online isn't punitive; 42 percent of shoppers believe it will help the brand understand areas for improvement. Conversely, 49 percent of shoppers post positive reviews to share their experiences with other consumers, and 28 percent leave positive reviews simply to thank the brand. Retailers can leverage this interaction to both broadcast information and meaningfully engage with customers.
Reshaping the In-Store Experience
Reports of physical retail’s demise have been greatly exaggerated: 90 percent of global retail spending still occurs in-store. Some retailers push back against this idea, citing the growing dominance of e-commerce as an example of why investing in the in-store experience is less valuable. However, recent research demonstrates that Gen Z is actually more inclined to shop in-store than millennials — 98 percent of Gen Z say they shop in-store some or most of the time.
Instead of competing against brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce sites are supporting them. Sixty-seven percent of internet users frequently or systematically look for information online before they shop in-store. The phenomenon of “research online, purchase offline” reflects the technologically blended nature of today’s shopping, as consumers increasingly look for an entertaining experience in-store. One way retailers can do this is by designing stores to be Instagram-friendly, creating engaging “spaces” for shoppers to explore and share.
Incorporating digital tools also enables staff to focus more on customers. Consider that 73 percent of consumers look for human contact when buying in-store and expect a fully customized, personal experience. As a result, retailers need to consider the importance of retraining their staff with a customer-centric focus, particularly as 93 percent of employees who receive regular, on-the-job training say they deliver better customer service.
Today’s shoppers have come to expect the seamless integration of technology with in-store shopping, therefore it’s time for retailers to place the customer experience at the heart of their businesses. By intelligently leveraging pre-existing digital platforms and reshaping the in-store experience, businesses can incorporate a more technologically driven CX that gives them a leg up against the competition.
Mike Small is Sitel Group’s CEO – Americas, responsible for all functional aspects of the group’s Americas’ organization: North America and Nearshore (Latin America), including operations, finance, HR, sales and solutions, project management, workforce management, and account management.
Mike Small is CEO – Americas at Sitel Group, a business process outsourcing solutions provider. He is responsible for all functional aspects of the group’s Americas’ organization: North America and Nearshore (Latin America) including Operations, Finance, HR, Sales & Solutions, Project Management, Workforce Management and Account Management.
As Chief Client Officer for Sitel Group, Mike led the Americas Account Management team to significantly improve business growth for clients and help drive strategic value across all industries and verticals.
Prior to joining Sitel Group, Small held leadership positions at VXI & SYMBIO Global Solutions, Capgemini and Hewlett Packard. His deep experience has a proven track record spanning two decades developing and leading high-quality teams within the BPO space and beyond.
An award-winning services executive, Mike brings nearly 20 years of proven success in leading and advancing high-quality teams in BPO and ITO for Fortune 500 companies. He was the BPO Sales Director for HP Enterprise Services, responsible for leading HP’s sales efforts in the US and Canada. Mike also held leadership positions with MphasiS, an HP company, in Bangalore India, and he spent a decade at IBM in multiple leadership roles.
Mike is a graduate of the University of Toronto in Business and completed his MBA in Corporate Finance from Queen’s School of Business. He holds certifications in Project Management from York University and Portfolio Management from the University of Ontario and earned his PMP designation from PMI. Mike is based at the Sitel Group global headquarters in Miami.