Three ways to improve the retail store customer experience


Walk into a typical retail store and more than likely you will be bombarded by piles of merchandise. And to make matters worse, there’s often nobody available to help you wade through all those products.

How many times have you been in a store only to hear the common refrains: “You have to go the next department over” or “We only have what’s up on the shelves.”

That kind of response to customers is no longer acceptable. Shoppers are more demanding today. They don’t mind talking to a concierge or a gatekeeper when they walk into the store, but the next person they talk to had better be someone who can help them find what they are looking for.

Here are three ways retailers can “delight” customers in their physical stores:

  • Understand what the customer wants. A woman getting dressed to attend the races in Australia, for instance, wants a one-stop shop for all her needs. She wants to find a dress, try on a few different hats, decide on handbags and then select shoes and accessories to finish off the outfit. In the past, people have had to make special appointments or pay a premium to get this customized service. But this complete experience is what shoppers are looking for today, and retailers have to align their stores to make it easier for shoppers to get what they want.
  • Use facial recognition technology to target good customers. Today’s facial recognition systems can tip off store managers that a loyal and high-volume customer has come into the store. These systems can help the staff present products that the customer is likely to buy, as well as read facial expressions and send alerts if necessary. If a customer walks in looking stressed, the system can get somebody to greet the person and ask how they can help. And if the store doesn’t have an appliance or electronic device the customer wants, the sales associate can offer to look it up in the merchandise system and ask the customer if the store can deliver it to their home in the next day or two.
  • Deploy kiosk-less checkouts. Here’s where the online and the physical world meet. Amazon Go has pioneered this concept, which uses inventory management, sensor fusion and artificial intelligence to automatically calculate what shoppers spend while they are shopping, making it unnecessary for them to check out in a traditional physical line. While this technology is in its infancy, it promises to give shoppers a seamless experience where they get to buy exactly what they want and don’t have to stand in long lines upon leaving the store.

Retailers that go kiosk-less can offer multiple payment methods. Shoppers can opt to deduct from a credit card, a bank account or a special store card where they keep a running balance, much like with an EZ Pass for driving on the highways.

Delighting customers in physical stores takes a strong combination of old-fashioned full-service techniques and new technologies such as facial recognition, AI and ecommerce. While they require some investment and new ways of thinking, these new technologies and retail concepts will offer new revenue streams for retailers and deliver the service levels modern consumers crave.

Tania Jollie headshotTania Jollie is the Director for Consumer and Retail, and Transport, for DXC Technology in Australia and New Zealand, focused on leading transformation and innovation projects in the retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and transport industries. Having worked with large retailers and international consumer product groups for many years, she has gained deep insights into these businesses and industries, which she uses to create strategies that help clients preserve and improve their market position and remain competitive in this period of rapid growth and change.

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