Retailers are facing a customer experience transformation and location data is playing a key role.
For some industries, like banking and cable TV, customer service transcends spatial boundaries. A customer can call a number, regardless of his or her location, and receive answers to questions.
However, for brick-and-mortar retailers, customer service is an amalgamation of the store environment, the retailer’s brand promise and the employee’s ability to execute on that promise.
The most common initiation of of this experience are the questions, “Do you have it?” and “Where is it?” Retail employees are often asked to be “jacks of all trades” when it comes to running the register, restocking inventory and acting as in-store customer service reps, answering just a handful of location questions can take a toll on overall productivity. But that’s where location data comes in.
What is location data and how do you collect it?
NASA originally coined the term “digital twin,” in reference to a virtual model of a physical product, process or service. NASA introduced the concept of the digital twin to solve complicated challenges they faced in the early days of space exploration. Using data from sensors installed on objects, NASA is able to to develop new directions, roadmaps and next-generation aircraft and vehicles.
The digital twin concept is gaining traction in other industries – like retail. For retailers, it provides an opportunity to understand customer needs and improve the customer experience across all channels. The digital interaction between retailer and shopper happens well before the shopper enters the store.
Show, don’t tell
An in-house Point Inside survey revealed twenty percent of shoppers leave the store without purchasing every item on their list. Since an incomplete purchase is likely the result of not being able to find the item they seek, retail associates can capitalize on the opportunity to help shoppers find products via the tool they wouldn’t dare leave home without – the smartphone.
According to a GPS Shopper and comScore survey, 27 percent of respondents named location features in retailer mobile apps as most important to them. Retailers can provide mapping and location capabilities within their native mobile app, as well as customized product searches.
From there, indoor mapping technology can show a shopper the best way to get to the correct aisle for the item in question, saving the shopper time and improving his or her experience. This tool can be exceptionally helpful in larger stores with a wide product mix or multiple floors.
Empower associates with the right technology
Once a store is digitally mapped, retailers can create additional value for store associates. Most store employees are tasked with various operational duties along with customer-facing tasks.
On any given day, they are receiving goods and stocking shelves, restocking returned goods, pulling omnichannel orders, refacing, hanging signs, pulling down old signs and counting inventory. Therefore, anything that helps the employee organize his or her work, as it relates to item location, will allow time for focusing on their primary objectives: engaging with shoppers and selling products.
Associates should be logging interactions with shoppers so the retailer can learn about the needs of the shopper and understand the impact customer service delivery has on the execution of operational tasks. Keeping location information up-to-date ensures associates can rely on the data for merchandising information.
Store associates watch customers leave the store without making a purchase every day. Location solutions offer unprecedented insights into shopper behavior, store performance and merchandising strategy. This allows for a better in-store experience by optimizing forecasting while reducing the cost of operations. Retailers are in the middle of a heavy transformation period, and the role of location data will only continue to grow.
About the Author
Jon Croy is the co-founder and CMO of Point Inside. He has held a diverse set of executive roles in high-technology and mobile companies, with responsibilities including sales, marketing, product management, finance, engineering and operations. Jon’s career portfolio includes experience with Andersen Consulting, Telecom Italia Mobile, Time Warner Cable, McCaw Cellular, AT&T Wireless, Synchronoss and TeleCommunication Systems. Jon is a graduate of the University of Dayton.