Retail Reflections

It’ll Be Alright On The Night – But Don’t Leave It To Chance

It’ll Be Alright On The Night – But Don’t Leave It To Chance

Price, value and service are vital for retailers, but there’s one thing that seals the deal: great customer experience, and never more so than at peak.

I bet that you, like me, are wondering where on earth did the great British summer go? Well, I wouldn’t dwell upon that one for too long because in the blink of an eye it will be Black Friday, closely followed by Christmas. And that can mean only one thing for retail businesses.

But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the retail landscape that’s evolved in such a short space of time; we know it as digital transformation. It’s exciting and exhilarating but also demanding and downright scary in equal measures.

Because there’s something that has crept up on every retail business almost imperceptibly over the last few years and threatens their very existence — and that something is us.

You might blame Brexit, Covid-19, Vladimir Putin, Liz Truss, whatever comes to mind, but the harsh reality is that there’s no doubting that consumer demands and expectations have gone stratospheric over the last couple of years.

That means we have little or zero loyalty, no patience and most certainly no tolerance of a customer experience we judge to be deficient in any way. And in an age when the digital transformation of the store, seamlessly merging the online with the offline, is critical to growth and success, keeping up a superior customer experience can become something of a challenge.

Because almost everywhere one looks, what was once analogue is now an opportunity for digital enablement, from self-service checkouts, to AI-driven inventory management, to store employee enablement through smart devices, to RFID and QR code scanning to digital signage to loyalty programs — all must be visible and functioning to provide that great joined-up customer experience or unified commerce. When just one link in the customer journey is broken, the entire chain suffers. And the first link in that chain is a retailer’s digital estate – and the necessary view of that complete estate.

Not convinced? Take your mind back to the last time you checked into a hotel or visited a new restaurant for the first time; after collecting your key or asking for the menu, what was the first thing you asked for? Odds on it was the Wi-Fi password. Because, and let’s face it, having broadband access for many has become almost as important as the air we breathe.

And as digital enablement becomes more and more ubiquitous, so the strength of the Wi-Fi signal in-store will likewise assume greater and greater importance.

But why does all this matter? McKinsey has established a direct connection between retail performance and the customer experience delivered. Their research has shown that improving customer experience increases sales revenues by two to seven percent and profitability by one to two percent. In addition to this, overall shareholder return is increased by seven to ten percent.

Because as digital transformation initiatives begin to mature, customers expect more points of access, whether it be to your website or your app to discover your products; and when doing so, they expect to have a consistent experience across all platforms they choose to use in order to engage with your brand. Our service needs are evolving but in parallel with this widespread digital transformation, as loyalty has been overtaken by community; we want to feel a sense of community with brands.

Which all means that at any time of the year, but especially on Black Friday or peak, having a handle on all the moving parts that must work in perfect harmony in order to deliver great customer service is critical for all retailers.. And increasingly, that means having a complete picture of how your IT assets are behaving.

Only then can it be alright on the night.

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