Online user expierence counts: Facing the future of retail

Online user expierence counts: Facing the future of retail

24. March 2021 NFON AG

3 Key challenges in the retail industry and Why the online user experience matters

The Internet has changed the way we shop. Consumers have become savvier – and a lot more demanding. Leading retailers have raised the bar for what a perfect digital customer journey looks like, and shoppers are now expecting the same seamless user experience of every business they interact with.

It’s easy to see why e-commerce has taken off. Consumers love the convenience and speed of online shopping – they want instant gratification. This rule extends to the customer service part of the buyer’s journey. In a world where you can buy the same product from a different website at exactly the same price, the competition is always just a mouse click away. The deciding factor that could tip the scales in one retailer’s favour is outstanding customer service.

But it’s not just online retailers that should take notice. The online trend affects traditional brick and mortar stores, too. Often, offline buying has an online element. This is called the ROPO effect – customers research online, then purchase offline. Product ratings and customer reviews on social media can influence the buying decision: According to market research company Statista, as many as 43% of global shoppers now research products online via social networks.

3 Key challenges in the retail industry

  1. Challenge number 1: Create a compelling user experience (UX)
    For retailers, all this means they need to think hard about the quality of the digital customer experience they deliver, from the very first touch point with the customer all the way through to purchasing and after-sales. It’s no longer just the quality of the purchased product that counts: You will need to impress with outstanding service at every step of the way.

    What does user experience design mean?
    The term user experience (short UX) covers every single aspect of an end user’s interaction with your business. It is all about engaging customer interactions and the customer’s perception of how efficiently the service you offer meets his or her needs.
  2. Challenge number 2: Respond flexibly to changing demand
    Most retailers are only too aware of the growing need to be more responsive to customer expectations. Often, however, they are held back by technology that is too complicated and rigid. For example, if they can’t quickly scale their systems and services (link here to our second upcoming article), they can’t respond to rapid changes in demand – such as the Christmas period or Black Friday sales. Nor can they support continuous innovation and growth
  3. Challenge number 3: Be prepared to react quickly to new trends
    The Coronavirus pandemic made customer behaviour even more unpredictable when consumers suddenly turned to buying everything online, from groceries to bicycles and laptops. According to Statista, retail platforms saw an unprecedented global traffic increase between January 2019 and June 2020. Overall, retail websites generated almost 22 billion visits in June 2020, up from 16.07 billion global visits in January 2020.

    Practically overnight, retailers had to increase capacity, at the same time keeping costs manageable. Many struggled to keep up with demand. Customers had to wait in virtual queues before accessing online shops, or were turned away by overwhelmed call centres.

Digital future: Why the online user experience matters

It is expected that some of the changes in shopping habits that we have seen during the past few months will be permanent. The shift towards digitalisation was already underway before the crisis hit. Now, according to a study by McKinsey & Company, more people expect to make a portion of their purchases online post-Covid than before.

In addition, with much of our business and private lives now happening virtually, the pandemic is greatly accelerating digital transformation in all areas. The retail sector is no exception.

Digital transformation is a fundamental change in how organisations operate and how they deliver services and products. It is driven by the adoption of digital technology, which replaces traditional business processes and opens up new opportunities to engage with customers.

As the world around them becomes more digital, connected customers are moving away from linear buying journeys. Their buying behaviour is constantly influenced by social media ads, product reviews, recommendations and price comparisons, because it’s easier than ever to access inspiration and information online.

Therefore, to get noticed, retailers must differentiate themselves clearly. The most successful brands have done this by designing unique customer experiences. Amazon for example focused on just one step of the customer journey, innovating the ‘buy’ moment with simple one-click ordering – and then revolutionised the shopping experience again with one-day deliveries. Amazon put convenience first, but equally, the ‘magic moment’ could be how a retailer communicates and follows up with a customer post purchase.

customer experience, online user experience, cloudya, NFON, cloud telephony

A digital tool to boost the bottom line: Cloud telephony systems

More and more retailers are replacing their legacy PBX systems with future-proof communications platforms that are hosted in the cloud. With little upfront investment, no need for complex on-premises hardware and no maintenance, these solutions scale up and down according to demand, and extend when additional stores open or the business expands into new geographical areas. This allows retailers to control costs, standardise technology across locations and at the same time, react to customer expectations with maximum agility.

Leading cloud telephony platforms such as Cloudya by NFON are highly reliable, highly available and secure. They make it easy to reach out to the customer, and easy to be reached. Because the telephony features can be accessed from anywhere, anytime and on any device, staff working from home during the pandemic can deliver the same standard of customer care as usual, routing calls to a colleague’s mobile phone in the store when necessary. In addition, integration with popular tools such as Microsoft Teams improves internal collaboration.

Customer service can be improved and partly automated with dedicated, multi-channel contact centre solutions such as NFON’s Ncontactcenter, while performance monitoring tools such as Nmonitoring Queues allow retailers to identify areas for improvement.

One brand that has made cloud telephony an integral part of its digitalisation is Fressnapf, Europe’s leading pet product retailer. Fressnapf has been relying on NFON’s cloud solution since 2018. For Benjamin Beinroth, Senior Vice President IT & Processes, Fressnapf Group, “business communication from the cloud is indispensable as part of our consistent digitalisation of the company. In addition to our national franchise partners, the employees of our national companies also benefit significantly from stable and high-quality systems.”

Switching to a cloud telephony system can unlock many benefits for retailers, including streamlined processes, more flexibility, more efficiency and considerable cost savings.

You want a deep-dive into digital communication in the retail industry? Then check out our new white paper or feel free to contact us!