Industry Stories

Engage: Rethink Retail Customer Engagement

We head into NRF 2019, the mother of all retail conferences, in a few weeks. All around, the focus of discussions is firmly on how retailers are challenging standards through disruptive business models that are flipping old models on their head. There are interesting, new business models that are powered by technology and are impacting retailers and non-retailers alike.

Today, shoppers increasingly expect to be delighted. They seek different experiences and new ways of doing things. Technology is the answer to both for improving customer experiences in retail through new ways of engagement and also to stay ahead in the highly competitive marketplace. Technology is what enables you to reimagine interactions with customers, improve processes in your business and in your stores, optimize your supply chain from product development to post-sale customer service, and empower your retail employees with a modern workplace.

Evolved Feedback Mechanisms

We all know the power of relevant feedback in fine tuning our offerings or indeed in forming our strategy itself in the first place. Technology not only makes it much easier for retailers to solicit and gather feedback; but it can also enable the integration of that feedback into designing new offerings. So, you can achieve customization at scale.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you own a departmental store specialising in baby products for mothers with both an online and offline presence. One of your customers is a young mother who regularly shops online. She is also active on your company’s messaging portal, where she proactively shares her views on some of your products and services. If the store wants to launch a new campaign, this woman can be an excellent candidate to influence what the campaign looks like. Since she already has a dialogue with the store, this dialogue can be taken up a notch through a phone call to understand her exact pain points in the buying process. For instance, she could express her reservations about having to buy certain products without having an opportunity to touch and feel them, since she primarily shops online due to childcare responsibilities.

She can be a part of ‘motherboard’ – a curated and empanelled set of mothers (customers) who provide valuable written, spoken or video feedback on a set of targeted questions. These questions can then form a basis for the store to decide strategy, make a course correction or make surgical modifications for better sales and outreach.

Based on insights from the motherboard, the innovation and product team could work on a new concept of pop up stores that cater to the mother’s needs. There could be a children’s entertainment area set up with childcare support, to enable the mother to shop freely at the pop up store, without having to tend to her child. The store could also use the opportunity to upsell or cross sell based on an analysis of her interests and past purchases. It could send her a curated catalogue that is tailor made for her, even before she enters the store for the special event.

With a Genome solution that helps the store anticipate customer preferences using next-generation analytics, our young mom could receive personalised tips and information on promotions running at the retail store while she explores it, thus leading to great customer engagement. When used effectively, personal data is poised to have a much better traction, compared to generic promotions.

The retailer could use the concept of ‘Living labs’ that blends studios and digital capabilities to rethink and improve customer experiences and journeys in retail. It helps retailers innovate at scale with emerging technologies and design, to fail fast, create new concepts, pivot models and experiment meaningfully.

Most retailers struggle with two kinds of risks, business uncertainty and technology uncertainty. Living labs allow businesses to de-risk both. Design thinking, iterative prototyping and repeated end user validations remove some of the business risks. Technology partners who work around emerging technologies to incubate innovative solutions using newly developed digital capabilities can help with fail-fast and rapid prototyping thus reducing the risk of technological failures. Living labs can help not only incubate new solutions but actually bring differentiation and scaling abilities by providing the necessary support with an eco-system that brings together academic research and technological capabilities.

As technology enables us to know more about our customers than ever before, there is a huge opportunity in retail to improve on delivering engaging experiences and phenomenal new services that are closely aligned to our customers’ expectations. If you’d like to see some of Infosys’ futuristic retail solutions such as the Motherboard and Living Labs, do drop by our booth # 557 at NRF 2019 and we’d be happy to take you through them.