The Keys to Driving Change in Retail Customer Experience

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Smart retailers are embracing technology and empowering teams in order to adapt to consumers' changing shopping preferences.
Customer Experience

Today, customers expect consistent brand experiences from retailers. They expect to have the experience to be largely the same across not only online and offline channels, but across all physical store locations. With increasing competition for retailers, the ability to deliver that consistent experience is critical for creating brand loyalty and increasing the customer lifetime value, arguably one of the most important metrics for brands today. The second retailers fail to meet those expectations, consumers start looking for alternative options.

Consumers continue to shop in store, but in order for brick and mortar retail to be successful, brands have to find a way to power that same level of insight and agility on the offline side of the business.

There are two key things that will drive that change: better tools and better utilization of talent. Technology is the key for bringing that same data-driven approach to offline commerce, but it's about getting it into the hands of the individuals who can actually take action on the information.

Retailers should look for purpose-built tools and software that provide insight into performance down to the store level, but can be leveraged across the entire organization, from store managers to district managers and all the way to the corporate office. It's time to say goodbye to outdated tools like giant, printed training binders and siloed POS systems. It's time to deploy software that provides insight on individual store performance as well as performance compared to similar stores and empowers the sharing of best practices and the creation of data-based action plans.

While retailers spend a lot on store-to-customer technologies, they haven't invested in systems that connect corporate to stores. That has to change. District managers will be the ones to bring corporate visions to reality and drive change at the store level. Relying on traditional tools like word processors, printed materials and spreadsheets is no longer going to cut it. In a quickly evolving industry, those outdated approaches are wasting huge volumes of time and money. Equipping the field with the right tools will help retailers better uncover and act on areas of opportunity and pinpoint and address areas for improvement. We've seen the impact these investments have had in the auto industry, which faces similar challenges, for years. Those doing it well have seen dramatic improvements in everything from customer satisfaction to motivation and performance at the individual level to overall dealer performance.

On the people side, multi-unit retailers are sitting on an extremely powerful team of district managers who, to date, have been largely underutilized. These district managers have the ability to become the most critical driver for brick and mortar success, but retailers have to prioritize getting them the necessary tools. With the right data and the ability to more efficiently collect and share information during store visits, district managers can spend less time preparing for and reporting on store visits, and more time driving programs forward and serving as strategic advisors to the stores.

Adjust or die

The lesson is clear for brick and mortar: Adjust or die. The e-commerce shift is forcing brick and mortar retailers to do more with less. Smart retailers will embrace technology and look to better empower their teams in order to drive those necessary efficiencies. Those who learn to adapt have the ability to transform today's shopping experience, fusing the convenience of online shopping and the brand experience of physical stores.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION