What Other Industries Can Learn from Retailers
In the beginning there was the physical brick-and-mortar location – the department store, the market, the bank branch, the doctor’s office – where every transaction or professional engagement would begin and end. Over time, other channels of commerce emerged, such as the advent of mail-order catalogues in the mid-19th century. In the electronic age, the Internet provided a third channel and then a fourth, as retailers turned the pantry into a shelf for direct-to-home delivery to address the last-mile opportunity.
Today all types of businesses recognize the emergence of a post-channel world in which goods and services can be delivered in a variety of ways. In retail, it’s recognized as a seamless omni-channel that fulfills customer expectations for a friction-free shopping experience. But, those same technologies that constitute the omni-channel also enable other industries to offer a similar consumer experience. Examples are all around us:
- Smart phone banking apps that allow a customer to “deposit” a paper check with a digital snapshot.
- Location-aware Wi-Fi apps that enable fans at a hockey game to order food from their seats or access player stats.
- Hospitals that offer high-speed wireless access for patients to watch on-demand movies.
- Restaurant apps that let guests pre-order food for takeout without a phone call.
- Insurance companies that offer live chat service to web visitors.
Creating the seamless customer experience
Among the factors that enable this always-evolving relationship with customers, mobile technology is perhaps first and foremost. For businesses, sales associates carrying hand-held tablets or other devices can provide instant information, locate or order desired products, ring up sales and otherwise improve their quality of service for a better customer experience. Consumers are similarly equipped, with smart phones running highly personalized apps that help them research, locate, compare deals, receive promotions and other shopping enhancements. And, those apps often are aware of the owner’s history, sometimes outperforming a live customer service rep.
Today the customer experience continues to evolve as businesses pursue the next wave of disruptive innovation, eagerly exploring new ways to win attention, affinity and loyalty. Success will go to those businesses that can offer the most rewarding, engaging and personally meaningful consumer experience. For that, they are harnessing the power of big data to deliver even more meaningful insights. But the role of data analytics in the rise of the omni-channel deserves its own entire blog post for another day.
Learn more about the customer experience in retail
Watch this “Customer Experience in Retail” webinar hosted by industry experts from WWT and Intel to learn about strategies for leveraging new technologies for a richer customer experience. It explores how retailers can take advantage of emerging trends, technologies and strategies to create a blended, personalized customer experience – one that non-retail business models can emulate as well.