Retailers have an exciting opportunity to encourage loyalty and streamline the buying experience by offering optimized digital experiences. Beyond the customer-side value, the business will benefit, as well, by unearthing valuable data insights.
Today, digital and ecommerce experiences are dominated by mobile apps. New data shows that 57% of consumers prefer mobile apps. Customer-facing digital platforms, like mobile apps, are best supported through well-executed enterprise resource planning (ERP) and strong back-end capabilities.
A poor integration of these data programs in your mobile app makes for unhappy customers. Let’s consider some customer experiences that emerge when your digital platforms are misaligned.
The Customer Experience (CX)
Imagine the frustration that pours over a customer when their desired purchase is suddenly unavailable at check-out. Or, perhaps, the confusion they feel when they’re offered coupons for products they show no indication of purchasing. These misunderstood customers may unsubscribe from your offers, abandon their shopping carts, and are less likely to return to your business in future buying situations.
However, digital experiences that reflect accurate inventory and thoughtful loyalty programs create happy and frequent shoppers. You can draw exceptional customer experiences and better data insights by meaningfully merging the capabilities of your mobile app, loyalty solutions, and vendor portal platform.
With nearly fifteen years of experience in delivering retail technology, Abhi Srivastava, Vice President of Retail Delivery at Concord, emphasizes that the digital experience is necessary for enhancing customer experiences. Convenient and engaging end-to-end journeys on ecommerce platforms is a precondition for customer care.
CMOs, CIOs, and CDOs can benefit from learning more specifically about the role of each program: mobile apps, loyalty solutions, and vendor portal platforms.
Where shoppers once found downloading individual apps for each store tedious, they now increasingly seek them out as their preferred mobile buying experience. Custom retail apps serve as an incomparable gateway to engage with and learn from customers. Abhi points out two profound facts. First, consumers who shop on mobile apps are twice as likely to revisit the e-commerce retailer within a month to make more purchases. Second, shopping cart abandonment only happens around 20% of the time on mobile apps. In contrast, shopping cart abandonment is approximately 60-70% more likely on desktop browsers.
Undeniably, users are more committed to their carts on a mobile app. But an app alone will not suffice. The mobile app must be easy-to-use, effective, and enjoyable. Giving customers the ability to access a product prior to purchasing will set your app apart from others.
Augmented reality (AR) in digital retail is a powerful feature. Studies on AR demonstrate that it actually improves your brand in an unexpected way – through customer inspiration. While AR allows your customers to experience a product in real time before buying it, it also enables product experimentation. Customers are inspired to try on various items while applying them to their lived realities.
Target is championed for cracking the AR code on their mobile app through their “See it in Your Space” feature. For furniture shopping, Target’s mobile app encourages customers to put their interior design skills to work. Using their AR feature, customers can upload photos of a real room and play with prospective furniture in their own space.
People can visualize various styles and sizes of Target’s 140 available products in their personal living spaces. This fun, interactive activity is also convenient for customers. It serves to diminish any purchase anxiety related to returning an item that just doesn’t look right.
Loyalty solutions typically bring to mind rewards programs. But they’re so much more than that, especially as they’re integrated into your mobile apps. As Julianna Vanoli, Principal Retail Product Manager at Concord points out, loyalty programs are not always about rewards because “loyalty is an outcome.”
While rewards programs, like coupons or point systems, are great ways of explicitly thanking customers; learning about your customers and engaging them accordingly is a critical capability of your loyalty program. AI/ML-powered surveys or customer reviews, for example, enable you to interact with your customers while deriving key insights into what matters most to their retail experience.
Mobile apps only serve to heighten this capability. For instance, a mobile app with a well-programmed loyalty solution can recommend other relevant items to consumers based on the products they regularly view.
While an AR feature can help customers visualize a couch in their living room, analytics drawn from loyalty solutions can empower customers to make more complete purchases. If you’re buying a new couch, you’re potentially going to look for throw blankets and pillows next. Suggestions based on recently purchased or viewed products make the shopping experience more convenient for customers.
According to Abhi, CMOs, CDOs and CIOs can collaborate to achieve exceptional CX outcomes on mobile apps through their loyalty solutions. CMOs must ensure that they are rolling out the most appropriate promotions to each consumer base. To do this, CDOs implement relevant information strategies to identify and pattern customer behaviors. And CIOs must architect the infrastructure needed for cohesive communication across various IT systems needed for facilitating loyalty programs on mobile apps.
Effectively implementing loyalty solutions in your e-commerce platform results in greater customer retention, an increase in the volume of products in a shopping cart, and even increased foot traffic in brick-and-mortar locations. To put it simply, people are more likely to consistently return to your store when they feel heard and seen.
Knowing what your customer wants will only take you so far, though. You need to have what your customer wants. Therein lies the value of your vendor portal platform.
Vendor Portal Platform
Your vendor portal platform is a critical back-end capability of your retail and ecommerce app. A vendor portal platform is a B2B interface through which retailers can source suppliers. Through the platform, retailers are able to onboard with vendors and sort assortments, all while allowing customers to view products in real-time on a mobile app.
By building a vendor portal platform into your mobile app, you can offer an immediate and more varied assortment of products, as well as identify which assortments to expand based on their popularity amongst customers. In fact, according to Abhi, it can actually help your retailer build its marketplace capability.
Through mobile apps, you can immediately apply data analytics from loyalty programs to your vendor portal platform, carefully curating the right assortment of products for your people.
The Future isn’t Scary, it’s Digital.
Developing a digital strategy that coordinates integral data programs, like loyalty solutions and vendor portal platforms, is increasingly necessary to capture the attention of consumers. Retailers can no longer avoid the digital landscape, but must learn to navigate it accordingly. To learn more about retail technology that can help you win at the checkout, download our e-book today!