Uncertainty is part and parcel of being an online retailer – evolving consumer habits, trends that disrupt the norm overnight, delicate supply chains and digital transformation all define the dynamic world of online retail.
In fact, finding solutions to these challenges attracts many online retail professionals to the sector in the first place! After all, change can be exciting.
But in recent months, retail uncertainty has been exasperated by the unavoidable cost of living crisis. So, it’s a matter of how, not when or if, online retailers will adapt to a shifting consumer landscape and develop experiences that keep customers returning even when budgets are tight.
Here, we explain three ways that technology can help retailers smooth over uncertainty and deliver service and experiences fit for the current climate.
1. TECHNOLOGY CAN EMPOWER SELECTIVENESS
Current retail uncertainty is marked by rising costs. Consumers become more selective when the cost becomes an increasingly significant part of the equation. In particular, they look for value.
But make no mistake; we aren’t just talking about the race-to-the-bottom pricing kind of value. We’re looking at the added, wider value that a product or service brings when it perfectly meets a customer’s needs.
To put this into context, think about a time when you grappled with a big-ticket purchase decision and ultimately decided to buy. Let’s say that it was a new piece of lounge furniture; it had the aesthetics you’d spent weeks searching for online, but a price tag north of your budget.
However, you decided to click for two reasons – real wood and personalised internal cupboard layouts. The in-room Augmented Reality then kept you on the page and you ordered shortly after. So, what was it about this (fictional) service experience that you valued over expense? We’re willing to bet that the attentiveness to lifestyle and preferences played a part.
Retail is no stranger to tailoring products and services. However, as customer budgets tighten, personalised experiences will develop an even stronger sales pull, with shoppers wanting to have complete confidence that they’ll get the most value from a purchase. The bottom line is this – they’ll become more selective and look to you to present the best option as the first option.
EASE RETAIL UNCERTAINTY BY EMPOWERING SELECTIVENESS
- Expand your Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities so ensure that you’re drawing as much insight from data as possible, in real-time, and utilising Artificial Intelligence to detect patterns and foresight.
- Tighten your customer experience ecosystems with advanced integration and interoperability. This may require rearchitecting applications or deploying IT workloads differently. A digital transformation consultation will aid you in mapping your best path forward.
2. TECHNOLOGY MAKES YOU FASTER AND MORE CONSCIENTIOUS
We’ve discussed how the economic climate and retail uncertainty will make for a more selective online retail customer. Yet despite the focus on finding that perfect product, your customers still have the same amount of time.
Although some customers are prepared to spend more time to get a preferable cost-value exchange, the question begs: why should they? It should be just as seamless for a customer to make a frugal purchase as a more considerable investment.
Online and omnichannel retailers who recognise that time matters and adapt their experience accordingly will be rewarded in dividends. Digital tools such as 360 virtual try-on, VR room views, consumption calculators, extended filter reviews and even metaverse technologies make a purchase faster and more fun and should be available across all pricing categories.
Instead of recalling the time they spent calculating dimensions, sizing up a total cost of ownership, or second-guessing suitability, your customers will remember the effortless experience of making a mindful purchase.
EASE RETAIL UNCERTAINTY BY SUPERCHARGING EXPERIENCES
- Increase the performance of core infrastructures such as application hosting environments and networking, building resiliency, speed and reliability. Ask Node4 about high-powered computing and networking options here.
- Reinforce cybersecurity and data privacy posture by establishing an all-seeing, all-knowing Security Operations Centre approach to security. This is essential when dealing with high volumes of customer and business data generated by and feeding to many sources to deliver a service.
- Switch to SD-WAN networking, which guarantees reliably fast transactions by using traffic flow prioritisation. SD-WAN is uniquely suited to retailers. And with lean operations and excellent service the antidotes to economic difficulty, its intelligent performance will be advantageous.
3. TECHNOLOGY CAN MEET THE DEMAND FOR TRANSPARENCY
As supply chains face more than a few obstacles, consumers will question the journey behind their online-ordered products. This is true for everything from clothing to beauty, electronics and groceries.
Customers still want to feel good about their purchases, even when wallets are tighter – perhaps more so! So, if your retailer can offer as much supply chain transparency as feasible, you’ll empower consumers with confidence and make navigating retail uncertainty easier.
Brands that value transparency in the customer experience will be far less vulnerable to changes in the market. When a customer is assured by what they’re getting in exchange for their time, money and consideration, you can focus on delivering helpful, memorable retail experiences that put you in a league of your own.
EASE RETAIL UNCERTAINTY WITH AN ETHICAL APPROACH
- Audit every connection in and out of your IT infrastructure and establish the level of transparency you currently have across your supply chain. You may find that changes are necessary to increase technical and regulatory transparency.
- Extend the transparency conversation to every third party active in your supply chain. Compliance and regulatory checklists can be beneficial in identifying gaps or obstructions within IT infrastructure and act as a springboard for reconfiguring with transparency in mind.
Node4 has vast expertise in the retail sector. It’s our mission to help you embrace change and navigate challenges with technology built for you and your customers.
With unrivalled experience in delivery and commitment to cutting-edge innovation, Node4 has the knowledge, technology and infrastructure to support and empower you during periods of retail uncertainty.
For tailored, no-obligation advice, arrange a consultation with Node4 by clicking the button below, or click here to see how we’ve helped other retailers.