Enticed by the abundance of vowels and motivated by a spirited delight in facilitating personalised and human visitor experiences, Hakim is a digital content strategist at Wavetec. She specialises in the articulation of queue management and self-service solutions, edifying them to wider networks of businesses.
In This Blog
- The reopening of retail stores post-Covid19
- What constitutes an ideal retail experience?
- How can you facilitate safe and contactless journeys?
Holiday shopping is looked forward to all year. Not in the least because of our retail lust and material addictions, but due to the spirit of togetherness and the exchanging of tokens of love and gratitude between friends and family. And given the gravity of the season, it is crucial for your retail business to have a plan in store for meeting and exceeding customer experiences!
To the drawing board…
Reopening of stores
Covid19 catalyzed the need to digitize operations and retail interactions. It changed attitudes to delivery practices, appointment scheduling methods and in-store shopping.
And unfortunately or fortunately, the lockdown and quarantine restrictions allowed retail stores to adjust to these new requirements. They bolstered their online presence and streamlined online shopping journeys. They considered how customer needs and expectations had evolved during and after the crisis. They reviewed the purpose of their business and what they needed to do and deploy to stay relevant and profitable. So much so, that despite global incomes shrinking, global shopping volumes increased. This led to a 35% increase in market capitalization between February 2020 and April 2021, according to McKinsey.
Alongside the above, stores and relevant management found reopening success in the following changes:
- Reconsidering how product and services were to be procured, paid for and received (delivery methods)
- Revising store layouts, streamlining customer flows and gauging how best to keep employees and visitors safe while operations continue
Each store has reopened with a new purpose, be it entirely novel or upcycled to suit modern requirements. Now they just have to prepare and brace for the holiday season crowds!
An ideal Retail Journey Flow
Ideal may not be reality, but it provides us a very convenient meter with which to measure how effective and frictionless customer journeys through a store should be. There are a few important considerations to keep in mind when mapping out such a journey:
- Social distancing guidelines and adherence to occupancy limits
- National and industry-wide SOPs
- Customer advice and feedback
- Meeting intended Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and your business’s short and long term goals
- Present technological advancements
For a retail store, the customer shopping experience should flow as follows:
If you are a business that accepts and entertains customers with pre-scheduled appointments, an appointment scheduling system would suit your needs. This allows clients to book a time when they will arrive on-premises, via mobile app, WhatsApp, webpage, or SMS. And receive reminders and regular notifications until said appointment arrives.
- Estimate and prepare for visitor volumes in advance
- Shorter and quicker waits
For a customer with an existing appointment, they arrive, check-in and are notified when to enter the premises. In the meantime, they can wait remotely.
For walk-in customers, they can wait virtually and off-premises by communicating with your store via SMS, QR code, WhatsApp, web application, etc. This method allows them to avail of an e-ticket that secures them a place. And via the method of ticket acquisition, they also receive regular notifications about when and where to approach.
- Remote and virtual queuing
- Sustainable and eco-friendly ticketing
- Convenience and ease-of-use and onboarding
3. Being Served
Once notified, the customer will proceed to the entrance and, guided by digital signage solutions, head to where they will be served, or want to shop.
- Informed visitor movements
Once the customer has been served, they are required to provide customer feedback via in-store devices or their personal devices.
- Customers feel heard and valued, while businesses get an insight into their needs and suggestions
How can your retail store facilitate safe and satisfactory retail customer experiences?
To provide your retail customers with a journey flow like the one above, your store needs support from the following solutions, namely collection and analysis of customer feedback, and deployment of a WhatsApp Queuing, a virtual queue management solution.
The latter is an efficient means to organize and categorize waiting customers via a virtual system that allows them to queue wherever they want while being aware of queue status regularly. And the former is a doubly beneficial method of keeping your business up-to-date with customer needs and requirements.
Using WhatsApp, the most popular global messaging application, this solution helps onboard both digital and non-digital clients with ease and convenience. Customers simply scan a displayed QR code or send a WhatsApp message to a displayed number, and open a chat with the business.
They are asked what services or products they wish to avail of, and then issued an electronic ticket via WhatsApp that secures their place in the virtual queue. Additionally, via the chat, they receive regular notifications about queue status, like how much longer it is their turn, and how many customers are ahead of them in the line.
WhatsApp Queuing is a solution that was born out of necessity in the early wake of the Covid19 crisis. There was a need for a contactless and virtual solution that suited the needs of all kinds of customers. All that was needed was a smart mobile device and a displayed QR code or phone number. WhatsApp Queuing also provides the following benefits:
- Easy-to-deploy and simple-to-install
- Standalone and scalable
- Swift onboarding
- Shortens queue lengths and perceived wait times
- Increases customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores (NPS scores)
- Lower customer churn rates and higher profit margins
- Environmentally-friendly ticketing
Customer Feedback collection and analysis
After having been served, customers are given the option to register their feedback, advice and suggestions via in-store kiosks or digital devices, or personal mobile devices. This information is then collected, categorized, analyzed and utilized for the future success of the retail operations.
The feedback questionnaires consist of questions pertaining to the visit, quality of service, wait times, etc. This information informs policies and practices to be adopted by the business, in hopes of meeting and exceeding customer requirements. And we all know that data-driven and empirically-backed decision-taking and goal-setting is the sustainable way to do business in the retail sector.
Additionally, customer feedback makes customers feel heard and valued. They are also able to express the best and worst parts of their experience, ensuring that action will be taken to remedy these. And there is doubtless a greater joy than seeing a change you suggested being implemented, valued and appreciated. This will have the result of lowering customer attrition rates, raising loyalty and increasing references and onboarding numbers.
Customer feedback solutions have been successfully implemented at Delta Airlines.
With the adoption of the latest and freshest technological advancements, your retail business too can weather the storm of the holiday shopping season!