In the past months, retailers have seen how their customers have drastically changed their buying behavior. One of the defining trends of this shift is the increase in online sales. Due to the pandemic, many transactions are now being done through digital channels. Like in many other industries, apps have also been at the forefront of this transformation for retail businesses.
Although by now things are a bit more clear, there is still a lot we do not know about how things will evolve. It is important that retailers understand this. Additionally, it is also essential to understand that, no matter what lies ahead, the key to a successful digital retail business is an outstanding Customer Experience, something that apps can easily provide if done correctly.
In this post I discuss the importance of Customer Experience for retail apps and how any retail app can design one.
The term VUCA has become a symbol of the times we are living in. It refers to what futurists and risk managers refer to as a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment. This frame is very useful to understand how companies need to embrace the current situation in order to succeed, so let’s take a look at what it means.
- Volatile: things can be unstable and constantly changing.
- Uncertain: although some causal relationships can be established, nothing is a given.
- Complex: information is available, but there is too much of it or it is difficult to interpret.
- Ambiguous: not everything can be explained in terms of causality, there are unknown unknowns.
There is no single way that these elements can be used to build a competitive advantage, but if used correctly, they can help businesses figure out where they stand. In other words, by using this framework to understand the current business context, retail companies can prepare themselves better for the challenges that lie ahead. The key here is to identify what matters most for a given business and build around those elements.
The Solution: Customer Experience for Retail Apps
There are many resources available to help businesses engage with customers through a retail app. Using eCommerce platforms like Shopify is an ideal solution for companies that wish to navigate the current situation successfully. Tools like scenario building to imagine future retail storefronts can also be useful. HiTech technologies like AI can help build amazing retail app features that customers will love.
One key aspect to keep in mind for any retail app is the Customer Experience. This is often referred to as User Experience, but they are different concepts. User Experience refers to the design aspects of an app. Customer Experience, on the other hand, refers to the retail aspects of a business and how they are integrated into an app. Keep in mind that the User Experience can help build a great app experience, and this can help the Customer Experience, but guaranteeing this last needs to involve the core aspects of a business.
Centering a company’s retail efforts around the Customer Experience, without disregarding the User Experience, will help engage customers in an effective way from a business perspective. It is essential to keep the customers’ journey in mind at all times.
A common mistake is to build a retail app around what one thinks is most suitable for customers. Often, customers want something different than what we think is best for them. The only way to find out what they need is to get out of the building. Performing tests and surveys are some good ways to test business hypotheses. Only by doing so will it be possible to build a great app that meets customers’ needs.
Customer Experience Tips for Retail Apps
These are some things to consider when designing the Customer Experience for a retail app:
- Do not focus exclusively on the app’s User Experience. Keep in mind the bigger picture of how this integrates with the Customer Experience.
- Map customers’ journeys. This helps understand touch and pain points.
- Reduce friction by making it easy to perform desired actions. Don’t make people think.
- Keep engagement in mind. An engaging app will create loyal customers.
- Optimize business processes for the digital world. What works in the physical world might not be appropriate for the digital one.
- Data is a valuable asset. Use it wisely to make important decisions.
By keeping these aspects in mind it will be easy to integrate an app successfully into any retail business.
The Right App
Having the right app for a retail business has never been more important. Due to the VUCA environment we are experimenting with, businesses need to be able to adapt easily to what customers need. Building an app is a great way to make any business more resilient, but it isn’t enough.
It is not enough for customers to enjoy a retail app. There are business aspects that need to be considered to create a great Customer Experience. A business and an app must be integrated with one another to guarantee an optimal journey. Failing to do so can result in customers ditching the app, and this means fewer sales.
A great strategy to solve this problem is to look for an app development partner that can help not only develop an app but also align it with your business. This requires understanding what your needs and requirements are, as well as of those of your customers.
At Koombea we’ve been working with all sorts of retail companies for over 12 years to help them build world-class apps that integrate perfectly with their business needs. We understand the importance of merging physical and digital processes into experiences that customers will love. App development focused on our clients’ needs is at the core of our custom Agile development methodology.
If you are considering a retail app is the perfect solution for your business, find out how we can help you through a free consultation. We can help you figure out how to manage these peculiar times we are living in.