How retailers are evolving to exceed customer expectations online and how you can too - 3 minutes read
Retail shopping doesn’t mean what it used to. Despite in-store sales falling in recent years, retailers have adapted to the digital age by extending their services online. The rise of ecommerce has opened up opportunities for retailers to offer flexible shopping experiences across multiple channels. In response, customer expectations for convenience in online shopping have only continued to rise. Customers today want to shop on their own terms, whenever and wherever they are, on their preferred devices or channels. Companies often consider online and in-store experiences as completely separate entities, but customers do not. They expect seamless transitions between stores and the web. To meet evolving customer needs, here are some examples of how retailers are using technology to enhance the shopping experience and how you can apply similar methods to your own business.
Bring the personal touch to online shopping
Traditional brick and mortar stores leverage their sales associates to help guide customers when making purchases. They can help you find the right size or make purchase suggestions based on your preferences. Providing personalized service is a tried and true method to building lasting relationships with customers. But in today’s digital-first world, ecommerce retailers often neglect the importance of the human touch in their online user experiences.
American department store Nordstrom understands that adding the personal touch can help distinguish yourself as a company that is willing to go the extra mile. Their “Stylists” service is a platform that allows sales associates to provide their expertise to customers online. Any user can quickly get in touch with a sales associate for instant fashion advice or request curated looks on their website. This allows Nordstrom to provide a consistent standard of personal service across both channels.
Leverage new technologies to improve the store experience
Mobile plays a crucial role in the decision making process of customers, even in stores. More than 3/4 shoppers use mobile devices along with physical shopping. Innovative retailers are leveraging branded apps and responsive web design to ensure that customers are getting the most out their mobile offerings. By optimising content for mobile you can take control of how customers engage with your brand online.
Swedish furniture retailer IKEA uses their app IKEA Place to seamlessly integrate physical and mobile to meet customer needs. With the help of AR technology, customers can use the app to place true-to-scale 3D models of IKEA products in their own homes. While not a traditional ecommerce offering, the app acts as a virtual extension of the store and customers can find out if their new furniture will fit without ever having to leave their home. Once you find an item you like, customers can save their favorite items and choose to order online or check for availability at their local store. IKEA understands that mobile can be a powerful platform for integrating in-store and online transactions by making it easier for customers to make purchases on their preferred channels.
Enhance the online shopping experience through user testing
In order to bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping, it is necessary to take a user-centric approach. Human insights gained from usability testing can help you exceed customer expectations with intuitive store navigation and easy checkout processes. Conduct usability tests with as little as 5 testers on wireframe prototypes to try out new ideas like one-click ordering or streamline checkout design for conversions. Have testers group page titles (known as card sorting) to inform website navigation so that customers can better find products. Watch user videos and gauge how users browse product information on your site. Testmate can help you design a test plan that combines these research methods to revamp your ecommerce website for increased conversions or develop new apps or services that change how customers engage with your brand.