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Retailers need to create phygital experience: Darshan Shankavaram

In conversation with Darshan Shankavaram, EVP and Head DCX Global CoE, who shares his thoughts on how retailers can keep up with consumers by embracing technology.

Tags: Startup, Indian retail industry, technology, retailers, online shopping, Capgemini, Digital experience

BY Payal Gulati  |  August 26, 2017  |  comments ( 0 )  | 

Darshan Shankavaram

How can retailers deliver a seamless digital experience, considering the fact that 80% of consumers are willing to pay for a better experience according to the Capgemini Report Digital Customer Experience?
As digital customer experience initiatives start to take root, organizations need to ensure the fact that they are scaling up and becoming more mature. Our research shows a positive correlation between investing in the furtherance of digital customer experience and value returns in terms of customer satisfaction and their willingness to spend more.

Today’s customer expects a seamless experience across all channels; retailers have to implement strategy and technology that helps their customers shop, service and return through any of the available and accessible channels. A majority of consumers (81%) are willing to increase their spend in return for a better experience. As a customer orders product/services from mobile or web and gets the same delivered or picked up from the store without any hassle, they expect retailers to have the ability to follow, listen and understand their requirements in order to personalize the overall experience.

Retailers have multiple ways to engage with a customer to provide the best customer experience. They need to think about what the customer expects when they shop either online or at the store and come up with the following: 

Learn about products: Customers use their phone to get the product information online while shopping in a store. Retailers are using other digital technologies to facilitate getting product information.

See inside the box:  Help thecustomers see a product before buying it, even when the product is boxed and sealed, using AR/VR. Lego’s “Digital Box” kiosks use augmented reality and bring the model to life simply by holding the box up to the kiosk

Try it on: Customers enjoy tangibility and a customer definitely feels more satisfied with a purchase when they have tried the product or used a demonstration of the same.

Interact with remote product experts: Retailers can help in product selection by making customers interact with product experts who might be located in any other location. For example; a wealth advisor who provide advice on financial investments remotely.

Have fun: Lego in its Chicago store uses the Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing camera to transform a child into a projected Lego mini figure

Stock the right products on customer buying pattern: It is important for organizations to judge the buying patterns of customers and stock the correct products accordingly, this will not only provide the customer with a smoother experience but also increase the organization’s efficiency

·Mobile checkouts and lesser Queue: The new age customers value their time and would appreciate skipping the queue with the help of mobile checkouts that are easily workable

·Delivering Phygital Experience: Retailers need to also create the phygital (combining physical and digital) experience instead of focusing on only the digital space. We see even pure play digital players like Amazon getting into the physical stores route. However, Amazon has ensured that they have differentiated even the physical store experience by using a slew of digital technologies like seamless check-in using proximity, seamless check-out without any POS queue.

Apart from this, the Customer can be engaged and drawn to the store or portal/app by real-time personalization, promos and coupons.

Organizations also face a range of challenges as they design and deliver a customer experience strategy, on both an organizational and technological level. As we can infer from the report that organizations struggle to overcome a number of hurdles, like 41% lack of dedicated customer experience budgets and 35% lack internal ownership of the digital customer experience. This suggests that many organizations are still not prioritizing digital as a means of driving competitiveness and growth.  

What is the new-age consumer expecting?
Consumers do not want to be passive users—they want their voice to be heard and their loyalty be rewarded. Yet, our research finds that many consumers are not receiving the attention they desire. In addition, in most industries we surveyed, less than half of consumers believe their organization provides a better customer experience than the competition. The new age customer is expecting retailers to know them and provide with products and services customized to their specific needs.

Our analysis reveals that organizations that tightly link their business operations with the customer experience reap greater rewards in terms of Net Promoter Score (NPS®) and positive customer perceptions.

What kind of advances have you witnessed in the retail technology space?
Customer experience in Retail sector is pushing new frontiers. The customers are willing to even spend more if they get a better experience. Availability of cutting edge technology solutions like Beacons, AR/VR, Digital assistants, Mobile check-out, Digital Payments, Real-time analytics can definitely help retailers provide a great customer experience both within and outside the store. All these technologies make it possible for the retailers to engage with the new-age customer in ways that was never possible before.

What are the key trends in retail technology space?
Getting to predict the needs of the customer even before he knows it, would be one of the leading themes. Given the amount of data retailers have on every client and his preferences and choices, it will only be a natural progression for retailers to know the success / failure of products even before they hit the market. This is not futuristic, this is something Netflix is already using as of today to create, produce movies and shows. Deadpool is one good example where they created a fictional super hero based on user analytics and paired him with an actor. The analytics that was predicted suited the taste of the audience and was widely accepted. The result was a multi-million dollar block buster.

Predictive Analytics along with the IoT, which would act as a channel to collate information regarding their clients is going to be crucial. All of the AI systems like Watson, Sensei, Einstein, and Google which are able to interact with humans using natural language and can “think / learn” have begun transforming marketing and sales like never before.

Where do you think are Indian retailers lagging?
Currently India is in the midst of the mobile revolution. The issue in India was more about reach and consistency than market. Now, the reach problem has largely been address with affordable internet on Mobile devices. Yet, Indian retailers are only reacting so far to the digital era by creating services more or less modelled on what has been created in other countries. India has multiple market segments, given that the Indian retailer’s needs to start creating localized products, solutions and experiences, which are fine tuned to Indian customers and local buying patterns. Largely most of the Indian retailers have seen digital as a separate channel altogether. To succeed they need to start defining and delivering on the phygital where the physical and digital experiences are harmonious.

The research and figures clearly point out the fact that 98% of consumers are willing to spend more for a better experience. So if they get a better experience the customers will not hesitate to switch brands.

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