Balancing E-Commerce Tech In Retail Experience
Brian Gill is a retail innovator who integrates the benefits of traditional retail with the convenience of e-commerce. Every retailer can benefit from using technology to enhance the overall customer experience. As Brian explains, businesses need to be careful about leveraging technology to enhance their product experience rather than simply introducing new gimmicks.
Nordstrom Tech SVP on E-Commerce (Part 2)
While e-commerce brings advantages to the purchase experience, there are plenty of opportunities to leverage the traditional retail experiences for customers. Said differently, retailers need to focus on bringing all of their assets and touchpoints together to serve customers on their terms.
At Nordstrom, we have seen the importance of engaging our customers with our products on a local level. For example, we have opened smaller retail locations that have a completely different footprint than our mall locations. Instead of featuring several racks of clothing, the customer experience starts online. From there, the items are waiting for the customer when they walk into one of these local retailers. This serves as an example of e-commerce convenience having a positive effect on the in-store experience.
However, there are a number of challenges that businesses face when introducing technology to retail processes.
First, you must focus on product engagement as opposed to technology engagement. In other words, you need to lead with your product and not overwhelm it with tech-based features. Most importantly, these changes involve big ideas that require significant investment from organizations. Furthermore, these investments must focus on driving lifetime engagement with customers in measurable ways.
Initially, there’s nothing wrong with businesses integrating e-commerce advantages into the retail experience. For example, booking an item online for in-store pickup is a great way to improve the customer experience and drive greater efficiency for retailers. However, there are limits to the effectiveness of bringing technology into the experience. Simply put, you can’t lose sight of what your customers actually want.
Take smart mirrors as an example. These are on display at retailers in Dubai and essentially “dress” customers virtually without having to try anything on. Ultimately, this interaction does not come close to the personalized touch that a customer receives working with a salesperson. Furthermore, the smart mirror doesn’t enhance the customer experience – it’s simply a technology trick.