Sandwich chain Eat, eBay and fashion retailer Uniqlo have been singled out in Cognizant’s annual Shopper Experience Study as retail businesses which are using technology to get ahead and better understand their customers.
Eat is reported to be leading the way in showing how loyalty scheme innovation can be used to deliver more compelling offers to its customers. Eat is trialling an update for its stamp scheme with a smartphone loyalty app, which will allow it to build up a richer picture of consumer purchases It is installing beacon technology in its trial stores, which will enable it to push personalised offers to customers as they walk in the door.
Online auctioneer eBay, meanwhile, is bringing virtual items to life on users’ smartphone and tablets, thanks to its 3D visualisation platform. Its PhiSix technology can create 3D models of clothes from a handful of photographs. The idea is to give shoppers a better idea of how garments might look — or even which styles will be the best fit.
Uniqlo is enlivening the product experience and helping shoppers to choose their favourite outfit with a ‘Magic Mirror’ technology in a number of its stores, which allows customers to try on garments in different colours without having to physically change clothes.
- The personal imperative: today’s shoppers are incredibly technology savvy and well informed. They’ll know the price they expect to pay, and they’ll know what alternative products they see as suitable replacements, so when it comes to communicating with them, retailers need to treat them as informed customers – in fact, 87% of UK shoppers will research a product before making a purchase. Customers also want a purchasing experience that is tailored to them. That means offers that chime with their preferences, and are delivered the way shoppers want.
- Mobile assistants: omni-channel and multi-channel shopping has become the norm. That’s reflected by the number of shoppers that use click & collect services — 20% of UK shoppers do so on a regular basis — and they expect a consistent experience across all channels. In this new world, UK shoppers are increasingly using their mobile devices as a virtual shopping assistant. Instead of seeing this as a threat, UK retailers have embraced the possibilities. Retailers are increasingly using mobile platforms to augment the customer journey through in-store beacons, augmented reality displays and social shopping platforms.
- Low-friction shopping: to keep customers satisfied, retailers are being challenged to deliver service innovations — whether that’s bringing products to life online, or reducing the pinch points in the store experience, such as waiting times. As a retailer, it can often be hard to get an impartial view of customer behaviour: what they think, what they like, and what they expect. Understanding these shoppers’ motivations and desires is the key to prioritising technology investments, through understanding which initiatives will deliver business value.
Key findings of the survey:
- 62% of shoppers agree that it is important that the company offering their favourite products/services communicate with them through the method of their choice
- Email emerged as the preferred channel of communication for three quarters of UK respondents, with just 6% opting for television
- Mobile messages, or those delivered via social media, always feel like an interruption. While 22% of UK shoppers valued receiving location-based offers on their mobiles, just 2% identified mobile as their preferred communication channel
- 24% of respondents wanted their favourite speciality retailer, and 20% want their consumables retailer, to work with social networks to provide better experiences and special promotions. But just over 1% wanted promotional messages delivered via social media
- 34% of UK shoppers research before buying for more than half of their purchases
- In the UK, 74% of shoppers say they’ve used click and collect service in the past 12 months versus just 54% of shoppers in the US
- 65% of UK shoppers that use click and collect pick up their purchases at locations rather than a store
- 44% of respondents agreed that their experience across various touch points, such as online, in-store and on social media is important in forming an overall opinion about a product
- 60% of consumers prefer to use self-service rather than waiting in lines. That’s a noticeable shift from the previous year, where self-service was viewed as an inconvenience or a mechanism for shops to lower staff costs