RIS: What are some of the key capabilities that retailers should implement when deploying a technology focused CX strategy?
Krishnanji: In a market challenged by price differentiation, e-commerce’s endless aisles, and threats of pandemic type events, crafting purpose-built experiences that evoke the emotions of surprise, joy, excitement, love and trust across the CX journey can build long-term relationships and drive loyalty.
Designing a purpose-built shopping experience starts with empathy. Retailers need to understand customers’ current experiences and pinpoint any areas of friction. A purpose-built CX strategy must evolve in lockstep with technology and be data driven. Retailers must invest in both their customer-facing technology and back-end systems.
Consider the case of Neighborhood Goods, whose flagship department store is a short walk from my office, who has figured out how to tie in its flexible social space and contemporary brands with memorable experiences such as blind dates, workouts, happy hours and more. Underlying the experience is technology that enables brands with analytics that they would typically have online such as demographic data, enables customers with a mobile app to customize their shopping experience and empowers employees with tablets for customer service and frictionless checkout. By creating a flexible, personalized and community-based experience, the retailer created a key purpose-built CX strategy.
Another capability being accelerated by COVID, is retailers’ growing interest in enabling checkout-free grab-and-go experiences, so customer no longer need to wait in lines. NTT DATA is currently piloting the Catch&Go cashierless store service concept in Japan and recently added facial authentication shopping and inventory-linked dynamic pricing capabilities.
When it comes to implementing a purpose-built CX strategy, retailers need a few foundational capabilities to be successful:
The first is developing CX key performance indicators upfront, to understand what success should look like and how to measure it and get feedback continuously as initiatives roll out for customers.
Adopting an agile mindset and methodology is key in the current environment and post pandemic. This also entails having a flexible API-based framework on the backend to enable an omnichannel strategy.
It’s also important to invest early in preparing for the influx of the modern, data intensive customer and employee apps by modernizing the underlying infrastructure, applications and having a robust data governance framework in place.
RIS: What does the future of CX look like for retail? How can retailers prepare for it today?
Krishnanji: During the 2019 Thanksgiving sales cycle, buyers turned to social media platforms for product research and to mobile devices for e-commerce more than ever before. In his keynote speech at NRF 2020, Erik Nordstrom, co-president of the family’s eponymous department store, talked about the brand’s shift to a single omnichannel view of sales rather than treating online and in-store sales separately, while also emphasizing that success for Nordstrom is success for its customers.
Intelligent automation powered by real-time Internet of Things devices, prescriptive analytics and in-store video cameras are just scratching the surface of helping retailers move from reactive to proactive decision-making, delivering real-time experiences and making it safe for customers and employees during and post pandemic. As the demand increases for real-time experiences, so do the threats to privacy and security. Finding the right balance between protecting consumer privacy and data and providing the experiences they want will be invaluable to building trust in the relationship.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that while tomorrow’s retail experience will continue to be disrupted, the customer will remain king by choosing how they engage and interact with retailers and brands.
Purpose-built shopping experiences are the new competitive advantage, delivering positive ROI and impact to both the top and bottom lines.