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The new customer journey: Evolving the omnichannel shopping experience

It is time for a new customer journey and for retailers to evolve their all new ultimate omnichannel shopping experience, writes Kam Phullar, Lead Strategist at Feed.

Kam Phullar, Feed

Lead Strategist

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The death knell continues to sound for high street retail with lockdown adding to the roll call of once mighty brands now shuttered and fallen. To first survive and then to thrive, retailers must do all they can to encourage loyalty from existing consumers and innovate to find new ones. The alchemy for success will lie in taking the best of bricks and mortar and melding it with the best of online. Innovation is key, and brands must think outside the box to offer what works for their customers, rather than playing copycat with competitors. It is time for a new customer journey and for retailers to evolve their all new ultimate omnichannel shopping experience.

The standard current customer journey might look something like this. You see an advertisement for a pair of jeans on your smart phone, this prompts you to look at the jeans more closely on your laptop when you get home. You like them enough to buy them so enhanced search functionalities allow you to find the nearest store to you. Inventory visibility technology across channels allows you to see if they are in stock; they are, so you reserve the jeans and travel to the shop the next day to pick them up. So far, so good. But as more and more retailers offer the same service the next few steps might be the difference between an average experience and an innovative one that has you returning to a certain brand again and again.

[Brands] need to be one step ahead of the consumer, thinking of solutions before the consumer has faced a problem.

Kam Phullar

A seamless customer journey

You get to the store; the retail assistant has been expecting you and recognises you as you walk in. While this familiarity might take some getting used to, it ultimately saves time and hassle explaining who you are and why you are there, and personalised in store service is set to become a key expectation for consumers and a brand differentiator for retailers.

While in the shop, you see a shirt you like and want to try it on; customers that pick-up items in store often make additional purchases. The shirt has a QR code attached to the label, so you scan it and a retail assistant is prompted to deliver it to the fitting room for you, allowing you to carry on browsing.

You eventually try the shirt on, but it doesn’t fit, and you need a bigger size. The store doesn’t have your size, so the retail agent offers to deliver it to your parcel locker, a step above delivering it to your door as you aren’t required to be at home to collect the parcel. Later in the day you receive a text to let you know the delivery has been made. You walk to the locker; the shirt has arrived, and you now have a new outfit following a seamless customer journey from a brand you now trust. You will happily recommend this brand to your friends.  

Thinking outside the box

This would be an ideal scenario, but all it takes is for one aspect to go wrong and your customer journey very quickly becomes a nightmare. This is where brands can really stand out; this is where they must think outside the box to mitigate against error and cater for the more nuanced scenarios.

For instance, if trying on clothes is more difficult for a customer, a brand with consideration of its whole audience would provide an augmented reality fitting room experience enabling much easier access for people that usually struggle with in store changing rooms. It would also mean that if you opted to get the jeans delivered rather than collect them in store you could try them on using AR on the website. We’ve already seen brands like Ray-Ban roll out very successful versions of this. Large companies like Toshiba, Samsung and Panasonic are investing heavily in this method and it’s on the cusp of becoming a standard part of the online shopping experience even though it’s not yet a conventional in store experience.

Brands must also ensure the human touchpoints present in a customer journey are effectively enhancing the process rather than making it worse. Brands can mitigate against the inevitable technical problems by ensuring the human contact consumers experience creates trust and reassures a customer. But if consumers have a negative interaction with a customer service assistant this will only add to their frustrations and could disrupt the whole customer journey.

It is now imperative that brands invest heavily in the technology they use to enhance the customer journey to enable them to offer a more robust digital experience across all touchpoints. The next omnichannel experience brands create will need to be a cut above the average customer experience; they need to be one step ahead of the consumer, thinking of solutions before the consumer has faced a problem. Rather than simply following the competition, they need to offer a completely bespoke offering to meet the needs of their specific customers. With so many retailers flailing, customer loyalty is currency, so it’s never been more important for brands treat their consumers as individuals and create their ultimate omnichannel shopping experience.

Guest Author

Kam Phullar, Feed

Lead Strategist,

About

Kam is a creative strategist with more than a decade’s experience working across Central Government and creative agencies and joined Feed in April 2020 as Lead Strategist. His CV reads like a who’s who of digital innovation, having worked at the likes of Iris Worldwide, ICF Next, and Kindred as well as the COI, HMRC, Cabinet Office and for 10 Downing Street. He is passionate about behavioural science and was responsible for Central Government’s adoption of the Mindspace model. He has his finger on the pulse of consumer behavioural trends, brand strategy and digital transformation which he has put to good use working across clients including: Adidas, eBay, Suzuki, BT, Vodafone, Talk Talk, BMW/Mini, Lloyds Banking Group, Scottish Widows, Ancestry, Home Office and Foreign Office. His experience spans both the public and private sector and is a natural problem solver and strategist who loves finding uncommon truths and working in an engaging and energetic style.