In the previous blog, we had seen a list of solutions that retailers can adopt to modernize and mature their enterprise applications to ensure long-term success in the New Normal. With the current COVID-19 scenario, the retail business is even more dynamic and aggressive in its changes than before. This blog covers the ways in which retailers can provide helpful, impactful, and timely CX during the crisis and in the long run as well. Now is the time for customer experience (CX) leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this crisis.
Questions that Retailers need to ponder upon to elevate CX
So How to improve Customer Experience during the Covid-19?
Brands that take proactive steps to address customer concerns demonstrate customer-centricity and will earn strong reputational benefits during a volatile time. In times of crisis, people want to be seen and understood and are sensitive to tone and motive.
1) Today, even the customers who used to love going to a brick-and-mortar shop to do their shopping, prefer to shop online and get them delivered at their doorstep while they are cocooned in the safety of their home. With a major shift towards contactless order fulfillment, curbside pick-up and delivery helps keep customers from congregating in stores & gives stores an additional lifeline as they look for ways to sell products without violating physical distancing guidelines.
For instance, in the first week of March, the U.S. delivery platform Instacart launched a new feature —Leave at My Door Delivery — an alternative for quarantined or vulnerable people who want to avoid close contact during the coronavirus crisis.
2) Immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are changing how we connect with information, experiences, and each other. Keeping the current situation in mind, brands can experiment with at-home try-on, virtual product demos and online virtual stores to create a realistic experience for online customers.
VR can help overcome the hassle factor of shopping. It can bridge consumers’ seeming conflict between the desire for personal service and unwillingness to visit a store by enabling experiences virtually.
- In light of the crisis, Burberry recently launched a new augmented reality shopping tool in partnership with Google Search technology. The innovative digital tool allows customers to experience and shop Burberry products in their (virtual) surroundings, by embedding the products into their environments.
- When shoppers search for Burberry merchandise on Google Search, they can see AR versions of the search results, at scale, and against other real-life objects. This allows them to get a better understanding of the product before purchasing while simulating an in-store experience.
Also, as the stores open the major concern would be the contamination of products in the store. Leveraging digital mirrors can be the answer to this major concern for any fashion retailer. Customers can engage and try out different merchandise on a look-a-like 3D avatar before they make a purchase. Digital mirrors make use of computer vision, face detection and face tracking technologies to analyze visual patterns and represent digital information. The technology uses algorithms to collect, analyze, and make meaningful inferences from data from one or multiple images.
Mobile ordering will continue to surge this year and becomes the new norm as more brands adopt this type of customer engagement. Brands should look to design a tailored and personalized ordering process that ensures the digital experience matches the in-store experience.
3) As consumers return to stores, it is predicted that there will be less interaction between consumers and store associates given that shoppers are accustomed to social distancing, which means there will be a need for technologies like contactless payments. Companies like Walmart and Starbucks, are leveraging their existing technology to make contactless payments more seamless for consumers going forward. Contactless payment options can range from:
Contactless payments make use of RFID technology or near-field communication (NFC).
4) Human touch is still relevant within the customer experience, particularly as loneliness is coinciding with the virus. Brands should instead look to consider implementing hybrid chatbots, i.e. a chatbot with a combination of both automated and human intervention, as these can add that critical human touch.
- Video interactions,
- Human-assisted online shopping,
- Consultations through video calls,
are just a few methods you can use to help combat loneliness and keep human experience relevant. Additionally, during this period of crisis, e-commerce retailers can harness AI-powered Chatbots to enable customers to browse and buy their groceries & essentials thereby making their online purchases seamless and engaging.
With AI and Machine learning, modern-day bots have improved significantly and can resolve most queries posted by the customer relevant to the transaction with the retailer. In addition to this, all the major tech giants have created Chatbot frameworks like Microsoft Bot Framework, Google’s Dialogflow, Amazon’s bot Lex where the bot can be programmed to learn from frequently used phrases used by the customer and configured to respond accordingly.
5) With even mom-and-pop stores offering contactless curbside pick-ups, large and small retailers have to look at omnichannel initiatives that are unique. Appointment-Based Shopping will become the new norm in the coming days, and stores will have to work around it. Prescheduled shopping appointments allow retailers to permit a limited number of customers to enter the store while offering an upscale concierge like customer experience that still prioritizes customer safety and ensures a secure, uncrowded shopping environment.
6) As stores and shopping malls continue to reopen their doors, retailers should value what voice commerce innovation may bring to the in-store experience. In terms of in-store voice, digital way finding is a real possibility. Being able to walk into a store and ask where the paper towels are, and hear through your hands-free earbuds that they’re in aisle seven, is a big deal. It’s like your in-store digital concierge.
When a voice command is given to AI assistants, voice is converted into text, which then is analysed and processed and basis the nature of the interaction, the response from the assistant is generated in the form of a reply or placing a shopping order. Voice assistants, which power Voice commerce, use NLP (Natural Language Processing), a form of Artificial Intelligence. NLP enables machines to understand and learn from the languages, we humans speak and write.
7) Commerce through community – To build trust, you should show your brand as a trustworthy company. Influencer marketing impacts the customer experience.
- It reduces customer effort in product discovery.
- It helps people understand the product better.
- Influencers can vouch for a brand’s product or service through online blogs, videos, posts, or even traditional print will invariably garner loyalty for a brand. This is because readers and viewers search for trustworthy sources and reviews before and while availing any service or buying a product.
To enable the above, retailers need an influencer marketing platform that offers digital experiences that will help them to:
Retailers can also employ their store-associates to value-added activities by enabling them to digitally sell merchandise on social media. This will help their brand reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and boost their marketing ROI and bottom line.
Don’t wait to innovate
These emerging technologies give retailers the ability to go above and beyond to create the personalized, connected experiences customers expect today. As we begin to rebuild, the benefits of CX will be essential to helping companies and customers at the same time. In order to remain afloat now and to bounce back once the worst has passed, retailers must invest in digital experiences, Chatbot solutions, hyper-personalize customer experiences, and add value to the digital tooling they already have in their ecosystem.
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