ShopperTrak, part of Sensormatic Solutions hosted a retail forum this week on the 99th Floor of Willis Tower, the first in a series of small events that included group discussions about what’s on the minds of leading retailers and best in show practices and methods for improving the customer experience.
Following breakfast, the intimate and informal discussion was kicked off by Dan Mahoney, VP of Sales for ShopperTrak, part of Sensormatic Solutions.
“We have a 10-year tradition of hosting events focused on helping retailers solve their biggest problems. Our retail summit format was built on the idea of helping each other be successful The intimate setting of this event provides a forum for great retail discussion and the opportunity to learn from each other,” said Mahoney to an audience of 25 best-in-class industry experts, operations managers, CFOs, business intelligence leaders and ecommerce strategists.
Millennials, Gen Z and Baby Boomers are demanding a higher level of customer experience. Are retailers prepared to meet the demand?
The insights gained at the breakout session was led by Andrew Park, an experience strategist with InMoment, a customer feedback management company specializing in experience intelligence or XI.
“We use experience intelligence to help boards of directors better understand the wants and needs of their customer and articulate that message to their stores across the enterprise,” said Park. “We now live in an experience economy.”
The takeaway was that retail is now interdependent on the omnichannel—convenience, 24-hour access, easy returns and same day free product delivery must work together seamlessly to attract and keep customers.
The insights gleaned were the result of surveying 1300 consumers, with generational differences as the focus, Millennials, the Silent Generation and Gen Z, those ages 21 and under.
He cited a recent study by Forrester that found that 80 percent of retailers surveyed believe that customer experience is as important as the products and services they offer.
Another key takeaway in the study was that customers are 95 percent more loyal to a company they trust.
Following numerous headlines involving a series of major data breaches and privacy concerns here in the US and GDPR concerns in the EU (guidelines for the collection and processing of personal customer data) the industry is reminded once again of the critical importance of making sure retailers deliver on the promises they have made to customers.
Creating a better CX experience that leads to higher customer loyalty starts with ensuring sales associates have the ability to deliver excellent customer handling. That begins and ends with a greater understanding of staffing models.
By and large there are several components that need to be in place when it comes to providing exceptional CX. One of the biggest is the caliber of the associates you hire and gauging the appropriate capacity and bandwidth needed and the right scheduling flexibility required to allow them to properly assist customers.
People counting relative to sales opportunities can be used to not only optimize labor scheduling to meet the demand of in-store traffic but also to build upon performance benchmarking. An indicator of how well the associate sold merchandise combined with where and how merchandise should be displayed to make the most out of retail traffic patterns.
Understanding what the customer expects from your store is key to keeping your promise each time the customer interacts with your brand. This is particularly advantageous to retailers when it comes to counting traffic for non-purchases.
“Customer experience is no longer just about quick conversion in-store or online, it’s also about the quality of the non-purchasing event that will eventually lead to conversion,” said Park. “All of those steps from search, to comparison shopping online to having the right color and size available on the sales floor should be taken into consideration because that will ultimately lead to a sale.”
Your Customer vs. The Customer
Ahead of concerns with what the next quarter will bring leading up to holiday shopping outcomes in the first quarter moving into 2020, was one of several topics discussed in the second half of ShopperTrak Retail Forum. Presented by Neely Tamminga former Wall Street analyst and CEO of Minneapolis-based financial insights advisory DISTILL, Tamminga provided a look into the economic realities influencing consumer spending.
The high-level economic forecast looked at the many factors that will influence the spending habits of the nation’s two largest populations, Baby Boomers and Millennials.
In the face of crushing student loan debt, home purchasing, and the impending retirement of a large portion of the population, rising healthcare costs, the outcome of the 2020 election and the potential for future market corrections, all of these very personal factors will impact major purchasing decisions in the future and will especially effect the use of discretionary income. The largest generations that we’ve seen to date will become more fiscally conservative due to these factors, and retailers must initiate preparedness planning to address the realities of that impending market shift.
A harbinger for even more radical modification and personalization around how retailers reach, attract and keep customers.
Better Traffic, Solving the Analysis Conundrum
A major project at a high-fashion clothing brand was discussed where the final analysis of retail traffic data was paramount in a massive redesign of the entire sales floor to attract customers and enhance the quality of sales.
The boutique retailer collaborated with Sensormatic Solutions to create the customer story after putting together 3 proprietary datasets which culminated into 18 use cases chronicling the customer journey from entryway to the exit by store, day and the level of retail foot traffic. The insights gained from this information was based on the peaks and valleys of in-store traffic activity that would eventually play a larger role in making key decisions about the store’s interior from shelving to display placement, merchandise mix and labor reallocation.
“We decided to modify these zones within the store based on the data we had and simply see what happens, and if there were any measurable changes to our sales,” the retailer explained. “We looked at how zone placement of merchandise impacted that zone and then began scheduling staff to that zone and looked to see if traffic increased or decreased.”
Reimaging all-inclusive “smart” business suites
Big data continues to uncover details into the customer experience that have the power to change store business models and inspire innovation.
Everywhere you look there are variations of retail foot traffic analytics and consumer intelligence data that is inexhaustibly churning out insight into the reasons behind a good or bad in-store experience.
Using score-driven insights this big box retailer leveraged the power of consumer intelligence data to reimagine its value proposition and consolidate several services they offered to customers into newer, bolder, brighter and connected smart office spaces to create a more unified business model. So how did they do it? Integrated software solutions.
These score-driven insights helped the retailer understand how customers were interacting with their stores and any gaps in the products or services they were offering including storewide look into how they were marketing themselves to the public.
The Rise of the Machinations: Perfecting the imperfect world of BOPIS
Omnichannel is not going away anytime soon but trying to provide better product fulfillment without disrupting the delicate balance between online and offline shopping continues to keep retailers up at night.
Presented by one of the Big Four technology companies and a partner of ShopperTrak, part of Sensormatic Solutions, the narrative behind data-driven insights used to streamline and improve the omnichannel are brimming with possibility.
Enter BOPIS or Buy Online Pick-up In Store. Who better to address this challenge than Innovators in the search experience? It isn’t just about investing in technology for technologies sake anymore. It’s about what is more helpful and convenient to the customer.
Better delivery, pick-up and geo-mapping with 24/7 customer assistance in the form of navigational popups online is where this aspect of product delivery is headed. How merchandise is picked up in-store, the impact of autonomous pick-up and loss prevention deterrence in an associate free environment are all going to be reengineered while this concept takes more of a solid foothold in the retail spotlight. Right now, as innovators are learning, BOPIS has its limitations as well as its opportunities.
- A dedicated hub for BOPIS has moved from the back to the front of the store. While the convenience makes sense, this would be a great opportunity to capture additional sales if foot traffic had to pick up their items at the back of the store and were encouraged to walk through the items displayed on the way there.
- There is potential for an entirely new opportunity for BOPIS in bigger cities. In big cities like New York and Chicago, customers are buying in-store and having their items delivered, more opportunities to increase retail foot traffic because walking, riding a bike and public transportation are the preferred modes of travel, and customers don’t care to carry all their items, especially bulky items back home.
- There is a tremendous untapped opportunity for retailers to consider when it comes to restructuring their BOPIS services in the form of upselling and converting an additional sale when customers enter the store to pick up the items they bought online.
- For now, at least, BOPIS works better with big box retailers
According to our innovation expert even with the added service of Amazon to handle BOPIS customers at a popular apparel retailer, all other verticals outside of big box retailers are not enjoying the top dollar benefit of an in-store BOPIS retail strategy.
At the end of each session our retail experts provided an informal Q and A discussion and asked for feedback from the audience to share their own situational journey with customers but also to exchange insights, moments of discovery and fresh ideas.
Closing remarks were provided by Kevin Larke, Director of Sales for ShopperTrak, part of Sensormatic Solutions and attendees were invited to take in the breathtaking views of the city and our small blue “ocean” the shores of Lake Michigan during an optional Sky Deck tour on the 103rd Floor of the beautiful Willis Tower. Later that evening attendees were invited to the prestigious Metropolitan Club on the 67th Floor to wind down the day, share cocktails and continue the conversation.
Stay tuned for more details about the upcoming forum in New York!