With the pandemic subsiding, Americans embraced in-person shopping during the 2022 holiday season, returning to stores and malls in big numbers. Early results for the weekend showed that consumers’ love affair with online shopping remained as strong as it was during the pandemic. Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks in-store and online retail sales, said in-store sales were up 12% year-over-year on Black Friday, while ecommerce sales rose 14%.
According to Shopify, consumers are craving opportunities to shop in person, but they expect the buying experience to be consistent both online and off.
Retail winners are those which balance growth strategies with tactics to prioritize a unique, seamless and tech-enabled customer experience – whether it be purchasing in-store or from the couch.
The surge of online brands into offline channels means retailers need to create a smooth and engaging customer experience across all channels. The retail winners are those which balance growth strategies with tactics to prioritize a unique, seamless and tech-enabled customer experience – whether it be purchasing in-store or from the couch.
. Here are three trends that will differentiate retailers in 2023:
- Hands-off tech: Shoppers are becoming less hands on, and more tech-enabled, says Shopify. As a result, more stores are turning to mobile or automated solutions. Technologies such as contactless checkout, in-store mobile robotics, handheld POS devices, and even smart shopping carts are gaining traction with major retailers.
- Pricing automation: E-commerce companies should consider automating their pricing process if they have not already. Retail automation can quickly generate live competitor pricing data points, and negate the risk of costly pricing errors.
- Better employee experiences: To retain the best retail employees, a Compucom survey found, employers should focus on improving the overall employee experience, especially their interactions with technology. In fact, almost 90% of respondents suggested that satisfaction and retention would increase if companies invested more in their tech and support. So, it’s important to set workers up for success with better training in tech advancements like virtual shopping, live chat, and curbside pickup. But it also is important to measure and improve that experience where you can. That means working with a partner to define and measure eXperience Level Indicators (XLIs). After all, a better employee experience translates to a better customer experience.
IT services and vendors are critical to the success of any retail business. In the post-pandemic economy, technology and services are at the heart of the customer experience. Instead of working with multiple vendors, each with its own success metrics, contracts, technicians, and areas of expertise, a retailer should consider working with an end-to-end IT solutions and services provider. More than a vendor, an end-to-end IT service provider can become a strategic partner, aligning XLIs to business outcomes, providing industry expertise and thought leadership to help a retailer build the best experience for its customers.