Amazon’s impending arrival in Australia is being met with negative sentiment, with many local retailers concerned about its impact on their businesses. Part of a greater disruption to the retail industry (one that has been occurring for some time now), Amazon’s expansion is just another nail in the coffin for retailers who don’t evolve and innovate to ensure they’re meeting consumer demands in the digital age.
Amazon didn’t get where it is today by just selling books; it continues to innovate, diversify, and stay connected to what customers want.
Other retailers have become too comfortable with their standards of service, and have seen in-store sales fall dramatically as they struggle to find the right digital strategy.
Simply being online won’t provide you shelter from the storm. Many retailers have progressed from providing bricks-and-mortar shopping environments to clicks-and-mortar shopping experiences. But the way consumers shop and interact with retail brands has been completely revolutionised by the omnichannel experience and the mobile ecommerce app.
Customers are increasingly expecting a single, seamless experience with retailers on a platform that is convenient for them at the time of purchase.
A Nielsen survey concluded that 60 per cent of consumers browsed online before making an in-store purchase. This is a phenomenon known as ‘web-rooming’. And 51 per cent worked it the other way—‘showrooming’—browse in-store, buy online.
Integrated experiences are the key
Clearly, the future of retail lies in the hands of an integrative customer experience, and mobile is the key to this. Integrated experiences prevail in the modern retail sector because they contribute to an omnichannel brand experience for the consumer.
Australian retail app and marketplace Brauz is just one of the many disruptors in this space, integrating digital experiences and physical shopping, making it easier for customers to find and buy the brands and products they like.
“Our platform connects retailers with tech, like beacons and portal support, that they may not be able to afford on their own”, said Brauz CEO Lee Hardham.
“Amazon is a massive marketplace, with a lot of money to improve their own offerings and technologies, as they have done with anticipatory shipping. We wanted to create a supportive marketplace where Australian retailers could compete and thrive, empowering them to deliver optimal customer experience”.
So what does ‘experience’ mean in modern retail? Different brands inherently create different experiences according to their image and target demographic. The shopping experience for a Chanel shopper (luxurious) is completely different for a Kmart shopper (convenience). Therefore, brands cannot rely on simplistic and obvious UX tactics. Customer experience design is like designing the UX of a mobile application; every barrier to purchase must be optimised to be seamless and intuitive.
The pain points of the retail experience, in-store and online, will be removed by new technologies that will dominate the retail environment.
Aussie brands need to ensure they are delivering the best possible integrated shopping experiences for their customers, both offline and online, or risk losing business. There is so much opportunity in this digitised environment to be creative and ensure you’re not delivering the same old offerings, because customers are looking for something different and fun.
Take for instance Guatemalan shoe store Meat Pack, best known for its irreverent vibe and special discounts on limited edition ‘kicks’ including brands like Nike and Adidas. They launched an innovative solution to earning discounts in late 2012 called Hijack in an endeavour to gamify the physical shopping experience by using GPS tracking technology to offer customers discounts allocated to a timer.
The retailers that will survive are those who commit resources into technologies that seamlessly integrate into consumers’ offline purchasing habits, and make the customer experience more convenient, faster and better informed.
If your customers aren’t already at the centre of every business decision, you can’t expect to withstand the brewing Amazon monsoon.
Kate Duckworth is the marketing manager at Buzinga App Development.
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