For online retailers, the last mile is the most critical part of the journey, where the goods make it to their final destination: the customer. Henri Seroux, SVP EMEA at Manhattan Associates, explains how retailers can transform the Point of Sale to deliver a frictionless, engaging personal shopping experience.
For online retailers, the last mile is generally known as the most critical part of the journey, where the goods make it to their final destination: the customer. Fail to meet customer expectations and reputation can be damaged. In-store, that last mile is the Point of Sale experience – and the quality of this interaction is vital.
Point of sale (POS) is the last point of contact a store associate may make with a customer. Get it wrong and it could be the last visit; but get it right and you’ve got yourself a loyal customer.
While many retailers are exploring the role of diverse technologies in-store, from mobile enabled store associates to touchscreen kiosks, what the customer really wants is a frictionless purchase. It is fantastic to equip store associates with the right tools and technologies to be able to sell from all available network inventories (not just what’s in the store). Add in full access to deep customer information based on wish lists, browsing and purchasing behaviour across every channel and they can not only ensure a selling opportunity is never missed, but also provide effective, preference based recommendations, which will improve the customer experience. However, saving the sale and improving the upsell is no longer enough; the entire experience needs to be one touch.
Clearly mobile POS technology is key when it comes to this experience and the ability to enable the store associate to spend more time with the customer. By allowing the mobile enabled associate to move seamlessly from recommendation to purchase, with no need to return to the static POS, the customer experience is transformed. But it is just as important to ensure the in-store POS can join up the omni-channel experience by enabling a single sales transaction that can include not simply goods available to buy in the store, but also items ordered from another store or the warehouse to be shipped to the customer’s preferred location, as well as any items being returned for a refund or exchange.
In addition, given the lack of in-store personalisation and the fact that many digital personalisation experiences break down as soon as the customer is in-store, this seamless experience should also ensure that brand advocates automatically receive the same offers and incentives in-store as they do online. Using the segmentation applied online, based on browsing history and behaviour, it is simple to identify, for example, top spending customers, those responding to money off incentives and customers who want early notice of new product launches. And as the line between in-store and online blurs, leveraging the POS to provide store associates with the same customer insight – to ensure that a valued customer who always receives a discount online automatically has the same experience in store – is key to creating that seamless, consistent omni-channel experience.
The ability to complete these diverse activities within a single transaction significantly improves the customer experience. There is no need for repeated input of the same customer details and the entire process is quick and efficient for the customer. With a fast, efficient, frictionless sales process, associates can also afford to dedicate more time to discussing customer preferences and recommendations, even at peak times, to build a stronger relationship.
This ability to leverage both in-depth customer information and available network inventory within a frictionless POS transaction, is enabling retailers to truly deliver that personal shopper experience – every time.
By Henri Seroux