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How can retailers improve the store experience?

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers looking to make their in-store customer experience more appealing can take a few basic technology-enabled steps.

According to a new survey of 1,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers from iVend Retail and CitiXsys Americas Inc., 71% of respondents agree or strongly agree that shopping online is more convenient than shopping in a store, with 24% saying shopping in a store is a letdown after shopping online.

The study also found 67% of respondents find the online shopping experience smooth and 18% think there is room for improvement. In contrast, only 50% said the in-store shopping experience is smooth and 37% said it needs improvement.

When asked what would improve their in-store experience, respondents’ top choices included having personalized loyalty offers sent to them when they enter the store. Forty-two percent said they wanted offers sent to their phone, while 29% wanted them delivered via email.

Retailers should also consider offering buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) services, of they don’t already. Twenty-five percent of consumers said improved in-store collection processes when picking up an item they’ve ordered online would improve the in-store experience. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they have ordered an item online for collection in a store.

Finally, the study suggests retailers should provide consistent omnichannel personalization. Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they receive online offers based on what they buy, but don’t receive targeted offers in the store. As a result, many consumers feel the online experience is more personal.

Nearly a quarter (23%) said they would like stores to give them a more personalized experience like they get online. To get that experience, consumers are willing to allow retailers track their purchasing habits and use that information to send them targeted offers.

Two thirds (67%) said it was either “very important” or “somewhat important” that retailers have one view of them as a customer – both from online and in-store shopping history. More than one-in-five (22%) say they would like stores to know more about how they shop online so that they can improve service.

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Lowe’s app helps customers believe

BY Dan Berthiaume

If a multitude of seasonal holiday animated specials are correct, belief in Santa Claus is hitting dangerously low levels.

Thankfully, Lowe’s is stepping in with a new mobile app to help consumers prove that Santa is in fact real and visiting their homes. Lowe’s is including a “Santa Tracker” feature on its Iris by Lowe’s app that connects to the retailer’s Iris automated “smart home” system.

Free for existing Iris customers, the app prompts a series of questions that, once answered, allow the physical Iris devices in a consumer’s home to sync with the Santa Tracker. The app also offers new virtual invisible "Santa sensors" and a "Santa camera." On Christmas morning, the app will reveal when, where and how Santa visited. There is also a Santa Tracker app for non-Iris users.

Users of both versions of Santa Tracker can select where Santa's team of reindeer are likely to arrive, where Santa most likely enters and exits their home (e.g. chimney, front door, garage), indicate what Santa is expected to do in the home (e.g. stop by the kitchen for cookies, drop presents under the tree, fill stockings, etc.), and snap a photo where Santa is expected to appear.

Users can check the app before Christmas to make sure the sensors are working and open the app Christmas morning to confirm when Santa visited the home and how he moved around inside.

"Iris' Santa Tracker offers a simple, fun way for families to bring the holidays to life," said Mick Koster, VP and general manager of Iris Home Systems. "Smart homes shouldn't just be smart – they should be fun and make life more enjoyable. Within Lowe's, our Iris team is committed to helping customers create a deeper relationship with their home through smart home technology. By dedicating a little of our after-hours time to integrate Iris' real and virtual technologies this season, we're hoping to enhance each family's holiday experience and play a magical part in creating lasting memories."

Santa Tracker will not directly result in any additional sales or revenue for Lowe’s, but is a good example of using digital customer engagement for “soft” ROI. Like the Office Depot “Elf Yourself” digital offering, which also provides consumers with holiday entertainment without directly selling any products, Santa Tracker places both Lowe’s and the Iris system in the middle of consumer holiday fun, which is a pretty comfortable “soft” benefit.

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Kay Jewelers looks to connect with holiday shoppers

BY Gina Acosta

Kay Jewelers is looking to leverage social media and gamification to better engage with shoppers this holiday season.

From now through Dec. 20, visitors to Kay Jewelers' social media channels will be encouraged to participate in an interactive holiday-themed memory match game for a chance to win jewelry prizes. Fans can enter the Merry Match sweepstakes for a chance to win a prize from the featured daily collection by visiting KayMerryMatch.com, registering and playing the game. One winner will be selected each day and will receive a piece of jewelry.

Participants also have an opportunity to earn bonus entries by sharing the sweepstakes on Facebook and Twitter. They can receive up to 25 additional entries for each friend who enters the sweepstakes using the link they provide. There is no purchase necessary to enter.

Signet Jewelers operates Kay Jewelers among its approximately 3,600 stores.

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