Tech companies like Uber are leading the way when it comes to offering seamless customer experiences and now shoppers are demanding the same level of service from traditional retailers, Roelant Prins, CCO of payment platform Adyen told Retailbiz.
“Customers have gotten used to a seamless experience and want it more and more,” he said.
“If they want to return something they purchased online, they want to be able to either ship it back or walk into a store and get their money back straight away—they expect this type of seamless experience.”
Prins said that in markets across the globe bricks-and-mortar retailers are in a period of change as they navigate these customer demands and attempt to keep pace with their online rivals.
“Large ecommerce companies can grow quickly with more efficiency, wider stock, and faster delivery—it’s a big challenge for traditional retailers to catch up.
“At the same time, the impact and growth of traditional stores is stalling. Bricks-and-mortar carries a lot of cost.”
“The most successful retailers are going to be the ones making serious, difficult choices about strategy.”
What can retailers do?
Prins said the most successful retailers will be those making difficult choices about their strategy. UK department store Selfridges did this a few years ago when it changed its strategy to an omnichannel focus and shifted to a more premium product offering.
“Selfridges closed maybe 30 per cent of its stores,” said Prins. “The stores it kept were focused on optimising omnichannel and featured a more premium product portfolio.
“They created a high-end experience and focused on limiting queuing times as much as possible.”
To achieve this, Selfridges introduced mobile checkouts and equipped staff with iPad payment terminals.
“Instead of queuing up to buy a premium product, staff members personally do the transaction. This is a better experience and a great way to capture more customer data.”
This in-store experience is extremely important, and Prins said retailers should see stores as a way to build relationships with their customers rather than selling product.
“Of course you want to sell, but you can also use stores to have much more engagement with shoppers—people can interact and spend more time with the brand.
“Retailers are turning stores into experience centres where you can try a lot of products but the amount of stock held is going down.”
Find your unique advantage
Deciding on the right strategy—and making sure you have a unique selling proposition—will also help local retailers compete with Amazon.
“In all markets that Amazon operates in you see they grab market share quickly,” said Prins.
“The key for retailers is to offer a combination of convenience and a unique identity. Invest in making sure you’re not a retailer offering two to three day fulfilment when others are moving to same-day delivery.
“At the same time, you need a unique value—quality, personal attention etc.—that you can offer to delight and surprise your customers.
“We’ve seen in other markets that when retailers don’t make a choice to refine their uniqueness, they are in a really tricky area.”
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