In December last year I wrote a post with a projection into 2016 – “One Customer Experience Tool That Will Get Significant Attention in 2016” I was at that point in time inspired by an article in Harvard Business Review arguing that technology lacks flexibility.
When we’re interacting with a person and we’re having trouble understanding something, the person can adjust to us. If we’re having a misunderstanding, they can help clarify it. Technology really can’t do either of these things.
A person has the ability to delight us or disappoint us. It’s really hard for a technology to ever delight, however, because it’s standardized and is built on a set of rules. But it is possible for technologies to disappoint us.
My projection a year ago
My point a year ago was that we would see more companies invest in their people; providing store associates with new mobile tools to help them deliver an improved, more personalized service.
Enabling associates with mobile technology would be the one of the most effective tactics to drive a lift in conversions and brand loyalty.
We have definitely seen a significant increase in mobile solutions for employees in Bricks and Mortar stores in 2016 and that trend will continue in 2017. One strong indication of this is the amount of technology providers exhibiting at the NRF Retail’s Big Show in New York in January displaying mobile tools for store associates. This is, I believe, retail’s next big investment.
2017 is about people.
I can spot some interesting retail trends for 2017 that is clearly related to people:
- Convenience will be key
- Investing in the organization and employees
- Retailers will enhance personalization
- Customers will want to feel at home
Despite age bracket or where you live in the world, how old you are or if you’re male or female, technology plays a role in your life and it plays a role in how you shop. But we all still seek out face-to-face interactions. We look to subject matter experts for assistance (in our professional and our personal lives). We take delight in thoughtful purchases. Even with all the amazing technologies improving how we perform in our daily lives, we still have a better experience when the people we engage with are informed, passionate about what they do, and committed to helping us.
In 2017 retailers will have to continue to create stores and experiences that are personal, warm and inviting — stores where products aren’t pushed on you. Stores with amazing associates that enhance and manifest the brand promise. If not consumers, especially the younger generation having a view like the one of Stacey Ferreira, author of the book “$2 Billion Under 20, will turn away at the door.
“People don’t buy stuff in actual stores anymore; stores are there to just, like, expose people to the brand”
Put people in the center of the action
People want to engage. When in a store, 38% of consumers keep their phone in their pocket and 27% of them are looking to talk with an employee. With this in mind, retailers just have to succeed in making the face-to-face interactions the most meaningful experience for customers and employees. And technologies deployed to support associates should work as an extension of the workforce and create processes that allow positive retail interactions to become the norm.
Image credit: Qmatic