Informed at every stage

Connecting with your customers

Informed at every stage

Now that smartphones allow people to impulse buy for same day delivery or book a cab in seconds, technology has given consumers more control over their buying experience than ever. Most consumers are now connected to the internet wherever they go, and have become accustomed to a high level of information at their fingertips. The latest retail technology responds to this trend by putting the consumer at the centre of the process, in control and fully informed.

The newly empowered consumer

Recent developments have acknowledged this trend, and put consumers in the middle of the process, enabling them to oversee what is happening and stay informed.

At the start of the buying process, the newly empowered consumer has access to an ever-growing database of information regarding products or services. From online customer reviews to product comparison websites, the consumer has never been so well informed. Indeed, one study found that 81% of consumers carry out online research and visit a variety of competitive online stores before making a purchase. They now expect to maintain this high level of control throughout the experience.

While online retail space provides an easy way to research products and services, physical stores have to keep up to speed and offer new ways to meet consumer demand for constant information. Informative in-store signage is therefore crucial in enabling customers to feel comfortable navigating a physical environment, as it provides them with a similar level of control to that experienced online.

Reconciling the physical and digital

While online retail space provides an easy way to research products and services, physical stores have to keep up to speed and offer new ways to meet consumer demand for constant information. Informative in-store signage is therefore crucial in enabling customers to feel comfortable navigating a physical environment, as it provides them with a similar level of control to that experienced online.

Digital signage enables stores to stay up to date and puts customers in the driving seat by giving them the resources necessary to make their decisions. For example, a sign above shoes stating how many of each size are left in stock saves the customer time asking for this information, which will ultimately result in a more satisfying overall experience.

Allowing customers to use technology, such as tablets, whether ordering a meal, tracking order preparation or paying, will help foster the sense of control that consumers desire, as they are continually updated and actively involved in the process. This requires businesses to develop and distribute software that is customer-friendly and flawlessly fits into the retail process. For instance, apps that give shoppers a live floor plan and enable them to locate and track down items are a simple way to satisfy the need for instant information.  

Another trait of the informed consumer is their need for immediate gratification. Waiting is a significant source of consumer frustration and can lead them to jump to negative conclusions about why they’re being delayed. If they have to wait, they need to know why. Show them what is being done, i.e. the food preparation stages in a restaurant or the parcel’s location in the online delivery process. This will keep consumers engaged and remind them that they are being attended to, as well as increasing their patience and improving their attitude toward the service they’re receiving.

When it comes to online retail, companies need to ensure the information they provide is adequate, as this will increase customer trust in the product and encourage sales. Offering clear videos, images and descriptions are crucial. Some companies are going even further and making use of technology such as virtual changing rooms, to give the customer as much detail as possible, and visualise how an item will fit into their lifestyle.

Informing the consumer

During the research process before purchase, these factors were found to be the most important for consumers: warranty information, pricing, specification information, payment information, and lastly, shipping information. Making such key details clearly available to customers upfront simplifies the task and will allow them to make faster purchase decisions.

Informing the consumer leads to a greater deal of transparency and honesty between the business and the customer, which fosters trust between the two. Once a business has won over the trust of a customer, they are likely to witness an increase in customer loyalty, in turn resulting in greater sales. So being able to effectively provide the information that consumers need, when they need it, will allow you to build up a pool of loyal customers.