Ecommerce is a competitive market that makes customer experience an indispensable business operation.
With the pandemic hitting the global consumer market, businesses are prone to suffer heavy losses, creating epochs where staying in contact with your customers is difficult.
This makes creating an in-store experience an indispensable part of your overall customer experience strategy.
The only problem is it’s easier said than done.
But fret not.
In this post, we reveal the top 3 ways you can leverage technology to create an unforgettable in-store experience for your customers.
Top ways to bring the in-store experience online in 2021
The foundation of a superior in-store experience lies in two elements: target customers and technology. Understanding your target customers’ core problems and online shopping behavior can reveal methods in which you can leverage technology to find creative solutions for improving customer experience.
Following are the key areas that you can leverage to create a flexible yet improved in-store experience for your digital customers.
1. Embrace digital-first culture
If there is one positive side of the global pandemic it is the boost it has given to the digital-first movement. Where the online sales annual compound growth rate was at 14% for the past four consecutive years, the pandemic fueled it to a whopping 25% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) in two weeks.
This major shift in consumer shopping behavior makes embracing the digital-first landscape critical to keep up for the lost momentum for the business. Here are a few things that you can do now.
a) Create an online customer acquisition strategy
In an ideal world, your customers meet your brand everywhere, online and offline. However, with covid-19 ravaging lives across the globe, the customer-brand point of interaction has immensely been concentrated towards the online space.
Investing your marketing efforts towards acquiring your target audience online is the best way to make sure your company is flexible for the new normal. Just like an omnichannel offline strategy, your online brand communication needs to be omnichannel in approach.
With the right mix of paid and organic social media campaigns, search engine marketing, and email marketing, you can easily map out the channels that bring you the highest ROI (return on investment). The best part? You might end up selling more than your traditional ways of marketing.
b) Focus on customer engagement
Customer engagement is one of the most critical areas when creating an online in-store experience for your customers. With the web being more competitive than ever, maintaining an impactful relationship with your customers through different channels and content is even more needed for steady growth.
The best part is staying on top of your customer’s minds through online channels is relatively easy. There is so much you can do here. From social media posts, live broadcasts, blogs, podcasts, and infographics, you can adapt to the content formats that your audience responds the best to.
A pro way to do this is to develop an app for your brand to render your customer a more personalized yet comprehensive brand experience.
c) Create a least friction digital brand experience
In a world where customer attention is scarce, and your dominant brand interaction opportunities lie in the virtual space, every moment counts. To meet your audience’s growing expectations, you need to develop online marketing and sales assets optimized for smart, online shopping. From personalized content, loading speed to the design of your website, you need to optimize a lot of elements. Some of the key digital assets that you can create to do so are high-performance landing pages, mobile-optimized designs, website copy, lead magnets, and sales emails.
2. Be bold on innovation
If there is one thing that the global pandemic crisis has forced businesses into, it is bold, innovative thinking. This means only adapting to a digital-first, omnichannel marketing communication system cannot give your business sustainability in your industry vertical. You need to constantly innovate the customer experience, find new ways to delight your existing and potential customers.
But the real question here is how?
a) Identify gaps in customer experience
Mapping the gaps in customer experience in your market space. What are the top activities that an ideal customer looks for to make a purchase? Is the absence of a physical store dampening the activity?
Understanding the core problem will help you to simulate the physical landscape for an online in-store experience. For instance, a clothing website can develop solutions like virtual appointments, live streaming, and try-on powered by virtual reality and augmented reality for their customers.
b) Diversify delivery systems
While lockdowns and commuting restrictions go on all over the globe, meeting your audience demands in time still holds critical. This means product delivery fulfillment is a critical success factor in a complete in-store experience.
If your company depends on only one mode of the delivery system or network, there are high chances to fail to meet your customer’s demands. Instead, adapt to a hybrid system of the supply chain. Partnering with multiple vendors to fulfill delivery orders together with an in-house team can solve this problem. Your complete supply chain ecosystem gets a major boost along here.
c) Invest in building a virtual community
There is nothing no more powerful than marketing than word-of-mouth. Loyal customers who promote your brand happily to their friends and family are the ultimate dream of every business. But establishing a relationship so powerful without the one-on-one physical interactions is easier said than done.
This makes building a virtual community indispensable for your online marketing success. You can do so in many ways. Create a brand channel on social media sites like Facebook, answer the burning questions of your target audience on Quora, and much more.
2. Rethink your business operations
No matter how your business was operating till now, you need to rethink your business process and resource investment in the context of the pandemic. Not optimizing your process will only create gaps and loopholes in your business that will only take away your strengths. But you can successfully manage this situation.
Adapting to an agile business operating system is the most critical element to help your business stay resilient and bounce back. The following are a few ways to do so.
a) Integrate safe modes of operations
In this Covid-19 situation, safety and hygiene are no more an element of just medical well-being. It is a key metric to provide in-store superior customer experience.
Your online community and store experience need to have an actual physical location to support the in-store experience online. But if your online store counterpart is not adapting to the norms of social distancing, you are doing it wrong.
Prioritizing safety measures like self-service, limited crowd capacity, sanitation, employee health monitoring, and contactless transactions can bring immense benefits to your business.
b) Reallocate resources
Maintaining a profitable business amidst the pandemic is hard, especially if you have not optimized your process for this global change. This makes business operation and production cost optimization critical tasks of the business development process. Done right, these efforts will not only create an exponential impact on your overall revenue growth but improve brand experience and customer loyalty in time. The best part? All of this can be done without growing your marketing budget.
Yet another part of this is your workforce.
Redistributing and prioritizing tasks and workforce towards tasks that add to the Northstar metric of your in-store experience is a critical part. You can lower your operation costs by integrating a hybrid workforce of employees, in-house and on-contract, working remotely. This will give you added leverage to flex hours business towards tasks that bring maximum ROI and growth.
c) Create a robust customer assistance
An integral part of building a viral product is superior customer experience. However, in a landscape dominantly virtual, understanding your customer’s core problems is hard yet easy.
Creating dedicated online customer support is a game-changer in your overall in-store experience and overall sales. Integrating the power of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, you can create automated customer support that works 24/7 for your customers. This means that irrespective of location, time, and urgency, each of your customers gets end-to-end support to improve overall brand interaction. You can team it up with live support from dedicated chat assistants.
What follows is an improved opportunity to upsell and personalize the experiences of your customers.
Creating a superlative customer experience for your audience is hard work. When it comes to recreating the in-store experience in a virtual atmosphere, it gets even more tricky.
A lot of elements are involved in doing so. From personalization, speed, end-to-end interactions, you need to get all of the elements right.
However, with the right mindset and approach, you can tackle this problem easily.
The above strategies and methods are sure to give you a launchpad for your in-store experience but to indeed be remarkable; you need more.
You need to constantly innovate the process to stay relevant and sustainable. Start with identifying your customer’s pain points.
Look beyond the obvious. Questioning the status quo will direct you to find alternative solutions that solve your targeted problems better than existing ones.
So now there is just one question left to be answered. Which of the above tips did you find most helpful and relevant to your process?