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Improving Shopper Experience: Is Closing Retail Storefronts the Solution?

By OSG Team on November 15, 2021

The Recent Trends of Retail Storefronts

It is the age of giant e-commerce companies, and brick-and-mortar retail storefronts are having a hard time competing with online stores like Amazon. Low prices, a huge plethora of choices and the convenience offered by online shopping seems to be very hard to fight against. The result- some of our favorite stores are cutting down on their physical retail presence and focusing instead on strengthening their online sales. Barnes and Noble, The Gap, JCPenney, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Sears, and even luxury stores like Michael Kors, are feeling the pressure to shut loss-making retail stores.

Do you track customer experience across these 12 stages for your commercial processes today?

What happened to the days when retail cared about “Location! Location! Location!”

Several surveys show that customers still prefer to visit retail stores to interact with products and feel the need for physical contact, especially in the case of high involvement products. What are shopper expectations and why are we running away from understanding that and focusing on fear from competition? Does it make sense to blindly shut stores? Paving a new role for physical stores in the sales process, one that allows them to serve as distribution centers, allowing for networking and social interactions, among others is the logical next step.

According to a recent study:

  • 18% shoppers like to see products in store
  • 51% expect seamless experience across all channels, and
  • 60% are likely to engage with brands that use their personal information to create better customer experience

This means that retailers need to do a far better job of understanding their customers’ journeys across digital and physical channels, and use shopper data collected through feedback mechanisms, social listening, facial and voice analysis etc. to personalize interactions at every step along the way, whatever the channel might be.

Every customer has a unique journey, and as the level of personalization increases, the number of customers moving from awareness to users to loyalists and finally advocates goes up.

Our Data on Retail Storefronts Trends

At a past webinar conducted by OSG, we posed the following questions to our attendees:

  • Do you track customer experience across these 12 stages for your commercial processes today? 75% of attendees said NO
  • Do you know how much your company spends at each stage/each month of the customer experience journey while managing your customers? 65% of attendees said NO

This data shows that organizations often focus a big chunk of their budgets and time on only a select set of journey stages and channels, without truly creating personalization for their customers. In order to micro-target, they use market research, and data collected is sliced and diced to understand people’s perceptions of quality, price, and convenience, the overall demographics, and the value and impact of the brand. This helps them identify customers that are most valuable to them, leading to smarter application of marketing dollars. While this is the right way to go, it is not enough!

Why not? Clearly, we have missed the boat when we shut retail storefronts because of profitability but have not optimized to manage shopper expectations in a holistic manner across channels. Imagine a shopper journey, which starts to browse online, but ends in-store to make the final purchase, because physical contact is important for the shopper to make the final choice.

How OSG Can Help Retail Businesses

At OSG, we believe that superior experiences cannot be delivered unless an organization has a 360-degree understanding of its customers and their expectations and we are able to integrate customer expectations across all channels whether digital or physical. Hence, we add an important layer to this approach – Our 3E’s of Engagement.

We use behavioral and cognitive analytics to understand what truly matters to customers. Cognitive analytics look at past purchase behavior and decision making. Behavioral analytics go beyond the “who” and “what”, and bring in an understanding of the “how” and “why” of customer decision making, to accurately predict what customers would want in the future. By clearly understanding shopper expectations, we design and deliver superior customer experiences through micro-targeting that build up a history of trust, leading to higher customer engagement.

We hope this information has been interesting and valuable to you. Please, feel free to share it with colleagues and other people in your network. We welcome discussing this topic further with you and understanding your specific challenges.