It is clear COVID19 will have a significant and lasting impact on retail. Global lockdowns and expected recessions have accelerated existing consumer trends towards e-commerce and disposable income spending on experiences over things.
Wireless Carriers will be no exception. Even before the pandemic competition between the existing industry stalwarts was fierce, with added pressure from new players like Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO’s), e-retailers and big tech. Brands with brick and mortar stores have an important advantage in being able to provide customers with the highest level of personalized service. However, thriving in the future requires evolving in three key areas.
The most important piece of technology for most consumers is their smartphone and the lifestyle it enables. Whether it be keeping in touch with family and friends, staying on top of work, or being entertained by the latest episode of Tiger King on Netflix…there is no denying the reliance on our devices and connectivity. Smartphone usage is up 70% worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak according to a Statista online survey.
According to Deloitte, shoppers want good deals, product availability, easy check-out, personalized experiences, online support and alignment with the brand’s values. Today’s consumers are inspired by clean, open plan stores with specially designed merchandising layouts. Areas where they can demo the latest devices (individually or as part of an interdependent ecosystem) to see firsthand the benefits of technology. This “retail choreography” taps into the emotion of the customer who then wants to share in the experience which ultimately builds a desire to purchase. It is likely, Wireless Carriers that thrive will focus less on the sheer number of stores and more on ensuring customers have access to stores in the most strategic locations and delivering buying experiences that connect with consumers.
Thanks to technology companies like Amazon and Uber, today’s consumers expect ever more personalized service and instant gratification. How do brick and mortar companies combat the instant gratification of the online shopping experience? Digital queue management technology lets shoppers hold their place in line electronically. When they enter a store they can log into the digital queue at a kiosk, take a virtual number, then spend time shopping in the store while they wait for their turn in line. Brick and Mortar retailers who offer live side-by-side product demos can enhance customer confidence and provide an opportunity for sales associates to interact with customers and guiding them through the demo towards a final sale. Adding mobile point-of-sale into the demo will improve sales close-rates and make check-out easy and seamless.
Arguably the #1 advantage of retailers with physical stores is the staff. Shoppers have access to more information now than ever before and they expect knowledgeable and helpful in-store service. How retailers deliver on the promise of expert staff will affect the shopper’s desire to shop their store. Attracting, hiring and retaining talent is key to success. According to Harver a successful recruitment strategy is key, “having a strong employee brand can help you attract and retain your best employees. When applicants understand the kind of employees you work with, are able to connect with your company values and be engaged at their work, they’ll stick around longer.” Retailers who empower their in-store teams and provide them with best in class technology and training can expect a strong return on the investment. It is important to align incentives with tried and tested performance metrics like conversion rate, churn rate as well as newer metrics like Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer satisfaction.
The coming months will no doubt bring ongoing uncertainty and continued evolution for retail. There is no doubt though that the brands who will thrive will be those that lean into the challenge and transform and exceed their customers’ expectations. Take a tip from Apple, figure out how to create connections and experiences for the people who depend on you in your company and your community. Do that, and you’ll look like a Genius too.
MTI is a leader in global retail security, with innovative smart retail store software solutions and a global field service provider trusted by many of the world’s most successful consumer electronics retailers and brands. MTI helps clients protect high value products with innovative security solutions augmented by a open IoT platform that enables retailers to close the access control and visibility gaps between management, front line teams, in-store technology and the customer experience. In addition, MTI’s unique global service and contact center reaches over 90 countries globally providing installation, repair and training and brand advocacy solutions to retailers and brands.