While we in retail world are talking about making "Customer Experience" phenomenal in today's digital age, I recently came across an interesting article where the author was discussing (in the context of customer experience) about what can and cannot be replaced on the shop floor of a retailer in this digital era.
What can be replaced?
We can replace the way customer see the products thru Omni channel approach. We can reach customers through Internet, Kiosk, Tele shopping (PULL), Tele marketing (PUSH), Catalog Preorders (Specialty products), and Facilitating Direct Sales from Warehouse or In-store shopping (shop floor). All these Omni-Channel approach can be replaced with variety of machines or (RO)BOTs that can facilitate or improve the shopping experience within the stores.
What cannot be replaced?
From the customer experience perspective alone…
- "Meet and Greet" instead of a machine that says "Dear valued customer, how are you and what have you got in your mind to buy?"
- Clarifying the questions immediately with a store associate having a tag "May I help you" instead of an Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- Help with returns by understanding the customer's apprehension than having the customer work with RLOG machines with or without bills
From the store associate perspective alone…
- Explain the price check - knowledgeable store associate checks on the daily price of few products on a regular basis and can provide information about how low cost we are when compared to the competitor
- Help the customer to get the right product for their need (even if there is a slight loss of revenue at that moment) - consultative approach
- Help the customer to let them know what is where
While I have been a customer myself to several retail stores, I agree to the customer experience perspective alone but not to the store associate perspective and here's why…
- Price check - There are tools that helps the retailer in the current context and display the competitive price digitally. Many retailers have competitive pricing tools to compare the same characteristics products and different characteristics product.
- Help customer with the right product for their need - Store Kiosks help this swiftly
- Location of a product - Machines are there to provide the Aisle number, Shop floor On hand inventory, back room on hand inventory, where is the next nearest store that has the product
In this Era of the Individual - Customer is the focus.
- What do "customer want"? (Great experience, variety of products, quality is implicit, brand value)
- How are the "wants" addressed? (Entire supply chain behind this one "want")
- What "else" does the customer want? (Master basket analysis)
- "Why" does the customer want "only" that he or she wants? (Preference)
- What fascinates customer? (Analytics)
- How do I attract the customer with the same range of products when compared to other competitors? (Pricing, promotion, marketing, reach to customer effectively)
With several questions leading the way, it is still one small step for the customer, but a giant leap for retailers.