RBTE 2017: Retailers must deliver a seamless and personalised shopping experience

The rapid adoption of mobile commerce means high-street stores must find ways to use technology to boost brand engagement.

Anita Liu Harvey, VP of strategy and innovation at Barclaycard, said at RBTE 2017 that customer behaviour continues to change and in-store buyers are becoming ever-more demanding. This change has been prompted by the frictionless shopping experience that many customers receive online.

“That has a knock-on effect regarding how people feel about the high street,” she said. “Our research suggests nearly half of customers are fed up with crowded shops. Checkout queues are another pet hate, as are long waits at the fitting rooms.”

Barclaycard research suggests two in every three consumers have abandoned an in-store clothing purchase due to bad experiences. Retailers must respond and find ways to engage with customers in the way they demand.

“That might involve shopping across multiple touchpoints, be that desktop, mobile or in-store,” said Harvey. “Customers expect a seamless and personalised shopping experience. Consumers need a consistent journey across retail touchpoints. The brands that deliver this will be the ones that win customer loyalty.”

Harvey said retailers looking to create a seamless customer experience should focus on four key areas: integration between digital and in-store touchpoints; a single view of the customer across the front- and back-office; a single payments platform; and a single view of stock inventory.

Retailers should use online channels to improve in-store experiences. Harvey quoted research that suggests 70% of consumers will check in-store inventory online before visiting a store in-person. Retailers should also allow consumers to reserve or pay for products online before their visit.

Harvey said retailers should also find ways of integrating payment mechanisms into the high-street shopping experience. She said two thirds of UK eCommerce payments will take place through smart phones by 2020. Consumers expect something similar in-store to the one-click mechanism they use when they buy online.

“High-street retailers need to find ways to take payments out of the equation and to create seamless experiences,” said Harvey, while referring to examples of retailers that have created showroom stores. “eCommerce is going to continue to increase. Stores need to become less about transactions and more about brand engagement.”