Creating Express Lane Experiences

Link to original article.

Published in: CCA Voice, Fall/Winter 2013 Edition

Date: Aug. 21, 2013

Smartphones have dramatically changed the way people shop. Today’s mobile consumer has unprecedented access to product and pricing information. The idea of mobile data enabling the information transfer from “gridlock to the express lane” certainly applies to the customer experience. The challenge for retailers is to deliver omnichannel retail experiences that deliver the “express lane” experience consumers are looking for.

Omnichannel retail and the desired “express lane” experience
Omnichannel describes a retailer’s ability to sell to customers on all channels (online, mobile and in-store commerce) simultaneously. Beyond converting sales, it’s about creating a consistent experience across these channels to satisfy customer needs for information, convenience, efficiency and price – that’s the “express lane” experience customers are looking for.

Mobile consumers want consistency across shopping channels (omnichannel).
Consistency is key for today’s shopper. According to Accenture (April 2013), 49% of shoppers polled say the best thing retailers can do to improve the customer experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile channels. FirstData (Feb. 2013)found that 82% of shoppers want a seamless shopping experience, while 57% of consumers want to start online and finish in-store or vice versa.

Meanwhile, eMarketer (April 2012)found that multi-channel shoppers want the following from retailers:
·         Consistent product knowledge across channels.
·         Ability to look up product availability at store prior to visit.
·         Ability for staff to check inventory at another store and have it shipped to customer.
·         Ability to shop online but return products at local store.
·         Ability to research products online, purchase online and pick up item at local store.

Mobile consumers want information: product, price and in-stock.
Part of that consistency across channels refers to the information consumers can access. Because mobile consumers can easily look up product, price and in-stock information on their phones, retailers must make this information transparent across all channels.

Google recently found (May 2013)that shoppers choose search as their #1 in-store resource to help make purchase decisions: 82% use a search engine in-store, 62% use store websites and 50% use brand websites.

As for the type of information mobile consumers are looking up, JiWire (Feb. 2013)found in-store Wi-Fi users were:
·         Comparing prices: 62%
·         Accessing product reviews: 58%
·         Browsing the store’s website: 37%
·         Finding other colors/options: 20%
·         Finding the item elsewhere: 17%

Mobile consumers want speed and convenience.
This goes without saying (consumers have always wanted speed and convenience), but “express lane” shopping experiences are truly enabled by advances in mobile technology.

According to FirstData (Feb. 2013), nearly half of smartphone users (47%) expect an efficient, personal, cost-effective and rewarding shopping experience, and believe new technologies should empower that kind of experience.

In terms of efficiency, FirstData found: 64% of smartphone users have retailer apps on their phone, 55% want to shop and check out faster, and 41% received an eReceipt for an in-store purchase.

Speaking of convenience, FirstData also found that 50% of smartphone users agree: “If a retailer’s technology isn’t easy the first time, I’ll stop using it.”

Mobile consumers want deals.
Just as mobile technology enables speed and convenience, it also facilities consumers’ ability to access discounts, coupons and special promotions. Retailers should be looking for ways to push notifications and deals to customers’ phones in a personalized way, both in-store and in real time.

JiWire (Feb. 2013)found that 43% of smartphone users accessed in-store Wi-Fi to look for deals, offers, and coupons to redeem in-store. Deloitte (Nov. 2012)found that 39% of shoppers use their mobile devices to access discounts, coupons and sale information. In addition, Microsoft (March 2011)found 29% of mobile users are open to scanning a mobile tag to get coupons.

Mobile ties it all together.
Advances in mobile technology continue to shape both consumers’ expectations of the shopping experience and also retailers’ ability to meet these expectations.

From the consumer’s perspective, mobile has introduced a new way to research products (mobile search), to make purchases (m-commerce) and to interact with a brand (apps).

On the flip side, mobile allows retailers to connect with consumers on all of these fronts but also to deliver “express lane” omnichannel experiences (consistent, informative, fast, convenient and cost-effective experiences) throughout.