Interesting and needs-fulfilling products. Personalised offers. Choice of different payments and delivery options. This is a bunch of elements, but it’s just a part of what your store should have. If it does, you’re on the right track. It’s worthwhile to look closely at another factor, as well – check how you can improve the customer journey in your business. What does it mean and why is it important?
What’s Customer Journey and what value it has on your store?
Sometimes the relationship between a customer and your brand is more important than the product which you’re selling. It’s simply because in the modern world, they can buy this very same product at a similar price elsewhere. That is why, not only the product is a decisive factor for the customer, but also the bond which they developed with the store. The interactions between the store and a customer cannot be restricted to purchase-based only. It’s important to consider earlier experiences that the customer has experienced during the interaction with the brand. This includes contact while shopping for a product and the after-sales service, i. e. informing the customer about delivery or refund and reclamation process.
These types touchpoints with the customer and the feelings they have while interacting with the store is what builds the customer journey. You could say that it’s a customer’s journey path through any store, be it online or offline, which includes any relations and interactions between a customer and a brand – before, during, and after making a purchase. It allows the seller to better understand the customer needs, expectations and feelings in each phase of the buying process.
Why is it so important? Certainly, you have had an experience of leaving a shop empty-handed, frustrated by either: lack of the wanted product, unprofessional service or complicated payment procedure. A study conducted by retailtouchpoints.com revealed that 96% of shoppers had left a store empty-handed at least once in their life (Retailtouchpoints.com, Study Reveals Why 96% Of Shoppers Leave Stores Empty-Handed). The main reason for it is the lack of the searched product. Happily for us, there is a way to prevent these situations. You have to carefully analyse the shopping path of your average customer, improve the most valuable touchpoints and, most importantly, simplify the product searching process. A conjoined study by LBMA and Oriient shows that this kind of overhaul can help you increase your sales even by 3-5% (LBMA/Oriient Whitepaper – Recovering Lost Revenues in Retail with IndoorGPS).
Customer Journey Map
In the quest of sales improvement a customer journey map can be helpful. It’s a visual mapping of how customers move around your store. It even contains the various lines of communication and people sharing information with them. The customer journey map aims at precise analysis of what store areas can be improved or simplified and ultimately encourage the customer to finalise transactions. It also helps in singling out the spots, which can lead to customer’s retreating from purchases, and then improve them so the situations like that don’t arise.
A customer journey map can be created in many different ways. You can approach it schematically, plan out the whole process, present it with tables or graphs, put it on a timeline or in any other way that suits you. You ought to remember, though, that the map has to take into account every moment of the shopping journey and the customer’s possible reactions when interacting with the brand.
How to improve Customer Journey?
Firstly, think about what’s interesting from the customer’s viewpoint. In the times of global pandemic the shoppers’ habits, both online and offline, have changed dramatically. They’ve become more aware and demanding. What can we do about it?
Swift journey through the store
Fast and contactless shopping has become a priority in the traditional stores and the online ones. This aims to prevent prolonged presence in stores and interactions with personnel and other customers. How can we achieve this? You can introduce limits for the number of people that can stay in a given area for a given time. However, this is not an ideal way out.
A more innovative solution would be to use a mobile app. Based on the premade shopping list and localisation it could show the customer the shortest path to the products they want.
This is called IPS – Indoor Positioning System. It’s a software or a multi-device network that helps localise people and object in places, where GPS and other satellite-based systems do not function as well or at all. This is the case for multi-story buildings, indoor premises and underground parking lots. By using IPS you can help your business to connect online and offline experiences – assuring the customers achieve all-dimensional satisfaction.
Providing multi-channel experience is incredibly important during improvement of the customer journey in a store. This can be achieved through implementation of a modern website and a mobile application. What’s more, the app can affect the offline store, as well, thanks to the utilisation of AR (augmented reality) and Marketing Automation.
The augmented reality is about installing a second “layer” of enhanced world elements on the existing real-world environment in real time. This layer can be added via mobile app and seen through the smartphone’s camera. For example, it can be a set of arrows pointing a path leading to the searched product. This can be a tool advertising other products or even other shops that the customer might find interesting.
The marketing automation on the other hand, as the name suggests, allows to automatise processes which take up the precious time of the seller. This includes: creation of advanced sales reports, managing personalised offers and conversion measuring.
A curious example of how AR and MA can work together and with other technologies is marketing communication based on the customer’s localisation. How does it work? Geofencing and IPS collect data about the buyer, who approaches a store or shelf in the store. The MA system converts this occurence and a notification about a product or a store is sent to the customer. This can be sent via mobile app as well as text message, push notification, instant messaging app or e-mail.
The efficiency of this solution has been proven; Oriient conducted a study which shows that proximity notifications based on the customer localisation increase conversion by 400%, which translates to 2-5% of the profit growth (LBMA/Oriient Whitepaper – Recovering Lost Revenues in Retail with IndoorGPS). What’s more, Geofencing and IPS offers positive experience not only to the customers, but also to the store owners. In traditional stores, they can provide data of the customers movement patterns, congestion spots, areas with zero interests, popular products, etc. It’s possible thanks to devices measuring the amount and frequency of the customers movement and actions. This can help in better positioning of products and, therefore, increase their sales.
It’s worth mentioning that the omnichannel experience, including product searching, swift navigation, AR and MA technologies have caused 80% increase in the incremental rate of store visits (Todd Pollak, How to reach today’s impatient shoppers—whether they’re shopping online, by voice, or in store). More visits means higher profit.
Customer and User Experience
These two terms are mostly related to online stores, however, they also can be applied to the classic shopping, in some aspects. Organising the customer path and all its elements in a suitable way, falls under the concept of customer experience. The CE, actually, concerns and applies to a lot of situations that are normal for offline stores – the broad-based experience of being in a store. Take care that this experience will really be as full and satisfying as possible. Focusing only on modern technologies is not going to suffice – the whole process of shopping has to be analysed. Sometimes, a small change in servicing a buyer can make him feel better.
When it comes to the digital environment you’re responsible for analysis and improvement of your website’s user experience. Increase the store’s intuitiveness and comfort of shopping. Remember that all interaction on the website/app - customer line should be logical, comprehensible and satisfying for the latter.
In-store technologies improving customer journey
So many tools to create a customer-friendly online environment wait for you. We’re going to focus on three chosen by our experts.
One of the first solutions for indoors navigating. This type consits of a low energy-uptake device that’s able to work even a full year without battery change or charging. It’s used for connecting and forwarding information between beacon-based devices and other units in the network. The most common version of it uses bluetooth – it can detect a smartphone within 3-metres reach. The larger your store space is, the more devices you will need to precisely estimate the client-to-product distance.
This indoor navigation technology is based on the earth’s magnetic field. The equipment is self-contained and does not require additional elements for a set-up. You don’t need to install it in the mapped locations. All you need is the customer’s smartphone. Oriient can be accessed as the service industry-oriented software. It can be connected to the existing systems by SDK. When connected it can install indoor maps with special markings. How does it work? Magnetic sensors in the customers’ phones help to detect magnetic fingerprints and, therefore, create a map and an optimal navigation scenario that aids the client in searching for the wanted product. Additionally, Oriient has an option of sending push notifications about the customer location directly to the store owner, which provides opportunities for suited marketing offers.
IoT – Interact Retail
This tool enables connecting the lightning and navigating systems. It’s based on VLC technology (Visible Light Communication). In simple terms, it uses LED modules to send an identification code leading to the product to the customer via smartphone's camera. It is a very precise and reliable system that can estimate the location of a product with accuracy to within 30 centimeters. What’s more, it can send information about products on sale within close distance to the customer. On the other hand, the store owner gets access to the data about the customer shopping path and can analyse and improve it.
Indoor navigation is a vital point of the customer shopping path development, especially if we’re going with the omnichannel approach. However, remember that these solutions can be used beyond the retail sector, as well. They can set up the customer journey, but also, they can help you determine drawbacks of the products, localise your personnel and your devices. They are used in other industries: airports, hotels, libraries, or warehouses.
So, if you care about innovative and modern approaches to business, consider their implementation.