With 48% of consumers preferring to shop in-person, it’s clear that physical stores are here to stay. However, the rise of eCommerce has changed what customers expect when it comes to convenience, service, and experience. In-store retailers that don’t adapt to meet these new demands risk falling behind and losing sales.
This article examines the current state of in-store retail and explores how retailers are utilizing software solutions—such as KIT from Deloitte—to create a seamless shopping experience. By incorporating this new technology, retailers provide a mobile-friendly experience that empowers employees and delivers top-tier service for customers. Read now for additional insights on:
- The role of the physical retail store
- Why it’s important to modernize
- The right tech to serve customers better
Modern retailers face ever evolving challenges in the competitive market place. In particular, there is a need to find new ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors, provide their store associates with the best tools to perform to their potential, and drive sales. Additionally, many find it difficult to bridge the in-store and online customer experiences — something fundamental to the growth and survival of well-established brands.
eCommerce may be expanding, but the physical store is here to stay. (When given a choice, 48% of consumers prefer to shop in-person at a physical store.) However, retailers must evolve to meet consumers’ rising expectations regarding convenience, experience, and service. With yesterday’s technology limiting store associates’ potential to help customers, many retailers miss out on opportunities to grow sales.
48% of consumers prefer to shop in-person at a physical store.
Forward-thinking retailers aim to modernize their stores, differentiate their brands, and drive sales by putting the right tools in the hands of store associates. The best technology combines the benefits of online and in-store shopping to create a seamless, differentiated customer experience — providing retailers with a digital nervous system that helps future-proof their operations. Just as importantly, any new technology must be cost effective, quick and easy to implement, be easily configurable, and cause no disruption to the day to day operations of the brand.
This article will discuss:
- The role of the physical retail store in customers’ lives today (and how stores do not meet current customer expectations).
- The imperative to modernize the retail store and empower store associates.
- How KIT transforms stores — enabling retailers to serve customers better, outperform competitors, and ready themselves for the future of retail.
You can’t underestimate the importance of the experience of going shopping. It’s important for the customer to physically experience the product they are looking to purchase, ask any questions they may have, and often experience the brand in a way you just cannot do online. – Lee Adams, Senior Manager of KIT at Deloitte
How today’s retail stores are falling short
Despite the rise of eCommerce, physical stores still play essential roles in consumers’ lives.
“You can’t underestimate the importance of the experience of going shopping,” remarks Lee Adams, Senior Manager of KIT at Deloitte. “People like to do that. It’s important for the customer to physically experience the product they are looking to purchase, ask any questions they may have, and often experience the brand in a way you just cannot do online.”
Consumers worldwide continue to shop in-person for awareness, inspiration, special-occasion purchases, and much more. But when it comes to delivering on the convenience, service, and experience consumers desire, retailers fall short. (Over a preceding 5-year period, 45% of customers did not believe that the overall retail store environment became more inviting, with 19% believing it became less so.)
“Everyone wants convenience, and convenience can mean many things to many people — from having what a customer wants on-hand to take home post-purchase to ensuring something can be ordered and shipped to them from a massive range of products,” says Steve Ingram, Director of KIT at Deloitte. “The experience always has to be frictionless; no one wants to wait in lines. And service is key. While no one wants to go in and not be able to find an associate that could help us if we have a question, equally, we don’t want associates that are overbearing. It all requires striking the right balance.”
Striking that “right balance” requires that a retailer know and identify their customers and meet their expectations in a personalized way. As consumers grow increasingly accustomed to the personalization and immediacy of online shopping, those expectations quickly change.
“The expectation of being able to shop the brand rather than to shop the channel is something that is really important to consumers,” notes Ingram. “When you go into a retailer, now there’s an expectation that retailers would know who you are, be able to help you more efficiently, be able to find that order that you placed previously and be able to update you and tell you what the status with it is,” explains Will Powell, Director of Innovation at Deloitte UK. With the right technology and approach, retailers can even “potentially ask you about your previous purchases or suggest something that might go well with them,” says Ingram.
The tools and systems necessary to meet those expectations remain available to retailers. But too often, a lack of cohesion exists among them. “Retail stores tend to be delineated by the placement of their technology,” observes Ingram. “There’s a bank of cash registers at the back of the store that facilitates payments. The associates might have a clienteling app, which is just a black book about the customer. Then there’s an e-commerce area where the customer may go for a click-and-collect, but that tends to again be constrained to a place where the technology is available.”
To know if an item a customer wants is in-stock, an associate must often leave that customer’s side and check a back-office system — diminishing service and experience. To improve, retailers need to “start thinking less about the technology and more about the capabilities that they give the store associate,” states Ingram, “and about giving them those capabilities at the appropriate place.”
The expectation of being able to shop the brand rather than to shop the channel is something that is really important to consumers. – Steve Ingram, Director of KIT at Deloitte
The need to empower store associates
Modernizing the retail store by empowering associates with new capabilities can help retailers better deliver on customer expectations by prioritizing the customer relationship (never needing to leave a customer’s side).
“Associates really want to be able to find the information they need and leverage it to empower them to have more meaningful engagements with customers and to help customers faster and more efficiently,” says Powell. The right toolset can equip associates with “the level of information they need to be able to help each customer make decisions, and then upsell and cross-sell accordingly” thereby helping drive up sales.
The help associates provide extends into digital channels, as well.
“Being able to provide new communication methods is key,” insists Powell. “Customers already message store associates and send requests through a store’s website. They communicate on social channels in luxury fashion.
There’s a lot of communication that happens between store associates and individual customers through WhatsApp messages, WeChat messages, emails, SMSs, and other mechanisms. Store associates sending back responses ideally need the right tools to be able to help recommend products, to send products that are on brand, to make sure each item links back so that if a customer then goes off and purchases it remotely that they can get their commission, and to manage things like appointments and tasks when customers are coming into the store. And there’s a handover between store associates.”
Plus, now more than ever, retailers “collect tons and tons of data,” contends Adams. “They need to extract more value and insight from that data and put it into the hands of people who can use it on a day-to-day basis.”
Customers already message store associates and send requests through a store’s website. They communicate on social channels in luxury fashion. There’s a lot of communication that happens between store associates and individual customers through WhatsApp messages, WeChat messages, emails, SMSs, and other mechanisms. – Will Powell, Director of Innovation at Deloitte UK
Transforming the store with a digital nervous system
Putting more power in the hands of store associates starts with using mobile-friendly technology to help them build relationships with customers. KIT — a dynamic new software solution from Deloitte — helps associates deliver a top-tier customer experience while improving efficiency, service, and convenience.
“Mobility’s becoming more important, so we can give a store associate the ability to perform clienteling and look after a customer, but equally they could create an order,” asserts Ingram. “By pulling up an endless aisle, they can create an order for a customer that could get delivered at home or even collected from the back. They’ll be able to look up past orders and find orders that have been bought online to pick up in-store. They’ll be able to accept payments, manage potential returns, and arrange a return. And then they can give better service, using things like runner apps that enable them to maintain their face time with a customer while something gets brought from [the] back of [the] store. That’s just a very small number of capabilities KIT offers.”
- +8% Upsell/Cross-Sell Opportunity
- +15% Store Associate Efficiency
- 50% Increase in Customer Facetime
By leveraging KIT’s ability to connect to other systems, other devices, and other in-store experiences, you can create seamless experiences throughout the store. – Will Powell, Director of Innovation at Deloitte UK
Delivering the very best customer experience through these capabilities empowers retailers to evolve and stay ahead of the competition. KIT acts as a digital nervous system for in-store operations, helping supercharge retail teams react faster to customers. It also deploys cutting-edge technology to help retailers get future-ready.
Some of the more innovative features include:
- Image Recognition & Machine Learning. Snap a photo of a product, and the KIT app will instantly recognize it and surface all relevant data.
- Video Calling. Store associates and customers can speak face-toface from within the app.
- Data Science & Analytics. In-depth knowledge of customer behavior, demands, and requirements supplied at the push of a button.
KIT provides a wealth of out-of-the-box functionality that can rapidly benefit many retailers in terms of efficiency and service levels. Additionally, KIT’s design enables integration and surface data from a wide range of back-end systems and solutions — extending the possibilities for its use across the store.
“By leveraging KIT’s ability to connect to other systems, other devices, and other in-store experiences, you can create seamless experiences throughout the store,” encourages Powell. “You can start imagining the possibilities with magic mirrors and smart changing rooms, for example, connected to a POS through KIT’s solution — all so that as you go through the store experience, it’s all seamlessly working together.”
Customers have already deployed KIT in 64 countries with availability in 12 languages (and counting). A highly configurable, scalable solution, KIT provides the answer for retailers ready to move past the limitations of their disparate technology systems. It brings the personalization and immediacy of online shopping into stores while empowering store associates to deliver better convenience and service.
All of these qualities in KIT improve and enhance the customer experience by helping retailers put customer relationships at the center of how they do business. By modernizing their stores and empowering their associates, retailers are ideally placed to drive sales, enhance their brands, and be ready to adapt quickly in an ever changing, competitive, and challenging retail environment.