The retail industry is overrun with tech solutions today. Just name a solution—chatbots, voice assistants, smart mirrors—and there are a plethora of service providers offering a variation on a similar theme. But where is the consumer in all of the bells and whistles? And to what degree are any of these offerings solving the basic issues with shopping—online or off?
Retailers need to be focused on technology that delivers a better experience, according to Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst for market trends company NPD. Stores need to make shopping easy, she says.
“Consumers don’t want to work to do business with you, and too many brands and retailers today still make it hard,” Goldstein said. “Why, if someone sends an email to customer service, does that go into a black hole and no one gets an answer?”
One area in which retailers can really stumble, she said, is in the omnichannel experience, where what stores deliver in person can vary from how they operate in the e-commerce realm.
“It’s about simple, personal customer service. Online, offline customer service should all be in connection with each other and all on the same page to help deliver to the consumer what they’re looking for.”
Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of payments firm Klarna, said, in his experience, retail executives are well aware of their shortcomings. Their issue is moving forward and doing so quickly.
“Most people recognize what needs to get done. Most people understand that this isn’t a great user experience,” he said. “It’s just the agility and with how much speed they’re acting to be able to get there.”
Siemiatkowski said the answer is thinking outside the usual processes. “Mostly the challenge is execution. What I would like more companies to do is release themselves from feeling like they have to use certain technologies,” he said.
Watch the video to learn more about how retail can transform to put the consumer first.