The future of retail is omnichannel: the 7 most important things retail brands should do

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the retail sector, with many stores forced to close at the height of lockdown. During that time, consumers switched their spending to online. The shift back to in-store purchasing has begun, but a far higher proportion remains online than before the crisis.

As of July 2022, 57.5% of worldwide internet users buy something online at least once a week.

Many customers enjoy the convenience of shopping online. But still, enjoy going into a store to see and feel a product.

Customers expect a seamless experience and won’t stay loyal if they don’t receive it. Building a strategy for your omnichannel shopping experience is more important than ever.

Here we look at how retailers can rethink the omnichannel shopping experience for customers to meet new expectations.

  1. Seamlessly connect online and in-store shopping to provide a consistent level of service and allow customers to quickly and easily start orders online and finish them in-store and vice versa.
  2. Use in-store apps to engage customers personally, elevate the in-store shopping experience, drive sales, and deepen customer loyalty while capturing data to understand customers wants and needs better.

57 percent of the customers have used a retail mobile app while in-store, new research by Yes Marketing states

  1. Create frictionless and convenient returns processes and make customers aware of the return options whilst shopping to provide a risk-free shopping experience, reduce ”returns anxiety”, and give customers the confidence to buy.

A former head of customer experience at Amazon said, “Customers who had a great seamless return experience would drive more sales than a customer who never had to return a product

When customers know that they can get their money back just as easily as they can spend it, they’ll shop with more confidence and spend more.” — Sanaz Hajizadeh, Happy Returns

  1. Make the click-and-collect process as quick and frictionless as possible to make it convenient for customers to collect their orders at a time and place that works best for them and remove the worry about missing a delivery.

Click and collect turnover in the UK is expected to be 11.9 billion euros in 2023.

  1. Capture, analyse and use customer data to personalise the shopping experience, recommend the right products, guide on size and fit, and help to minimise the number of returned items resulting from miss-buys.

People are 40% more likely to spend more than planned when they identify the shopping experience to be highly personalized.

  1. Equip in-store staff with hand-held devices and give them direct access to customer data to enable them to personalise the shopping experience and guide customers through their purchasing decisions.

“68% of consumers say it’s absolutely critical or very important that associates understand their personal preferences or needs” — Salesforce state of service.

  1. Use technology to support customers to find items, pay for things, return items or collect items themselves without the need for in-store staff assistance, freeing up staff to provide support where it’s better needed.

Here at Engine Service Design, we thrive on fixing, re-imagining and innovating services that help our clients deliver brilliant customer experiences. Discover more about our work with THAT lifestyle store and Sainsbury’s.

If you have any questions about how we can help or would like any further information, please get in touch: we would love to help.

How to win more customers: Design an easy and enjoyable experience

An exceptional customer experience is the key to winning and retaining customers. A good digital experience used to be a differentiator for brands, but now it is a basic expectation. People are increasingly drawn to brands that can offer a more personalised and streamlined service that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the need for positive experiences at all the touchpoints of the customer journey. Understanding what these are and designing your service around them will reap rewards.

If it’s easy and enjoyable to shop with you, more consumers will do it

How often have you got halfway through a purchase only to abandon it because it’s all just too much effort? Abandoned baskets are a great example of a purchasing process is not as simple as it could be, whether it’s digital or in person. This is supported by research from Forbes, showing there is an 80% increase in revenue for businesses that focus on improving customer experience. What’s more, 73% of customers agree that customer experience helps to drive their buying decision (PwC).

It’s harder for customers to shop if you don’t make your stores and products easy to access. If you don’t offer suitable alternatives for out-of-stock items at the point of purchase, you can lose your customer. If, however, you design your services and experiences to reduce or remove these barriers you are more likely to keep them. In fact, in research conducted by Super Office, 86% of customers said they are ready to pay more if it means getting a better customer experience.

Be the better brand by offering an exceptional customer experience

It goes without saying that price competition and price promotion are important to consumers, and increasingly so. But pricing is not the only consideration. With greater choice consumers need more durable and valuable reasons to pick one retailer over another.

Joined-up customer experiences correlate with customer spending and loyalty

Data shows that omni-channel customers often also spend more and are more loyal. It therefore makes sense to design joined-up customer experiences that span end-to-end journeys, allowing customers to interact in any channel. Companies also need to design-in genuine, valuable reasons for customers to interact, even when they are not shopping. Purposefully designing customer centric experiences, very clearly signals to customers that you value them and are listening.

Well-designed customer experiences reduce operational costs

Well-designed customer experiences reduce operational costs in three ways:

  1. The design process looks at an operation through the customers’ eyes. This makes it easier to create a more joined-up retail operation and reduce waste.
  2. Service design can be used to create compelling and easy-to-use ways for customers to help themselves. For example, encouraging more customers to ‘scan and shop’ designs out one reason many don’t want to shop.
  3. Designing a process that is ‘right first time’ reduces customer and colleague errors, potentially reducing lost sales and customer support costs. For example, if you invest in ensuring customers pick the perfect product the first time, they are less likely to return or discard it. And more likely to return to you next time.

Better customer experiences reduce marketing spend

A compelling customer proposition and experience becomes supported by excellent word-of-mouth advocacy, so choosing your brand becomes an easier decision for consumers. Customer acquisition costs therefore fall and consequently so does the cost of marketing.

Get the right return on investment for digital and other infrastructure

There is no point in buying expensive tools and building materials and getting a terrible architect to design your house. So, as businesses upgrade their digital infrastructure, service design helps to create the most value.

The Engine Service Design team worked with Emirates Airline to create value as they embarked on a major upgrade to their passenger service system. The result placed technology and data-enabled services at the heart of their customer experience, not only enabling Emirates to remain one of the best airlines in the world, but also moving them towards being a lifestyle brand and service provider.

More easily measured and improved KPIs

Once an organisation views the customer experience as something to be consciously and systematically designed, it becomes easier to measure. Having the opportunity to measure experiences and fulfilled needs makes it easier to spot and prioritise areas for improvement. It becomes easier to experiment and understand which strategies are most effective.

Designing an optimum customer service experience

At Engine Service Design we believe in the power of the service design process to help create the optimum customer service experience for your business and your customers. It’s important to remember that whilst designing this experience, you’ll need to seamlessly combine automation, digitisation, and human interaction to exceed customer expectations; having a great digital experience alone is no longer enough to differentiate your customer experience.

If you’d like to discuss a customer experience project or challenge with our team, select a time below, we’d love to hear from you.

THAT Retail Concept Store wins “Best Experience Design” Award

The whole team at Engine Service Design would like to congratulate Grégoire Charpe-Civatte (Director – Customer Experience & Innovation at Majid Al Futtaim), and all MAF teams involved, for winning the Best Experience Design Award for THAT Concept Store’s at the 2022 Customer Centricity World Series.

James Samperi, Director of the Engine Service Design Dubai Studio said,

“The challenge with this project, was to create a first of its kind lifestyle store, offering a cutting-edge lifestyle experience; a space the size of a department store in one of the biggest malls in Dubai. Having been engaged on this exciting project, we needed to fuse different services, products, and experiences together in a way that would become an original and authentic experience”

The Engine Service Design team worked as part of a multi-disciplinary team, alongside retail, digital and front-line training, to deliver a remarkable omni-channel experience. We created the overarching vision, developed the key customer journeys, and developed service, digital and operational concepts to support the design and development teams.

“Our team used the existing data, staff interviews and store observations to build a greater understanding of THAT’s target customers, and determine the critical proof points that would need to be designed into the experience.”

THAT had a strong idea of what the brand needed to stand for and had linked the merchandising and product strategy to delivering against that ambition.

Engine Service Design complimented this work by converting that brand positioning and a deeper understanding of their target customers, into a vision for the customer experience that would provide multiple ways a customer could experience the retail experience, and deliver a consistent THAT branded experience.

Through this work, Engine Service Design developed digital product concepts across the journey and outlined requirements for how this would be executed. As well as digital, we outlined how the front-line “Lifestylers” would be equipped to personify the THAT brand and deliver a truly authentic and personalised service.

On receiving news of this prestigious award, Grégoire Charpe-Civatte said:

“Thanks to all the team members involved, and to Engine who supported us on this project. We’re extremely proud of our THAT “Lifestylers” on the shop floor, making a huge difference, one meaningful interaction at a time with our fantastic customers.

THAT is definitely a concept like no other, redefining experiential retail and I encourage you to experience it in person at Mall of The Emirates, at City Centre Mirdif, or online through our website and app.”

The Engine Service Design System has been honed over 20 years as we’ve developed best-in-class services and customer experiences just like THAT store. We use the system to configure projects and programmes to best suit the outcomes you need and discover what your customers will love.

Hit the link below to book time with a Service Design Expert, and explore how we could help you create something amazing.

Driving joined-up retail for the future of automotive

It’s time for service innovation in the automotive industry

The automotive industry is at a pivotal point as it tries to understand and envision the role of dealerships, digital and the retail model of the future.

With customers’ expectations ever-increasing and new technology making more and more possible every day, there’s unprecedented complexity for manufacturers and network operators as they try to decide where to best focus finite budgets and resources.

Engine’s Client Services Director, Paddy Whiteway shares his thoughts on the subject with Automotive Management Online.

“Both in and out of the industry, innovators and disrupters are demonstrating new ways to stitch together more joined-up online, human and physical services and experiences in response to emerging trends and preferences, but also in response to customer frustrations with the established automotive norm.

There’s a lot going on in the car industry right now and it seems time that the perpetual advances in product technology are matched by equally ambitious innovations in service delivery.”

Read the full article here.