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By: RETHINK Retail

The Power of Customer Experience in Retail: Embracing Disruptive Technologies for Success

In today’s rapidly evolving retail landscape, the importance of customer experience cannot be overstated. As shoppers’ preferences and behaviors continue to change, retailers must stay ahead of the curve by harnessing innovative technologies that enhance the overall shopping journey. 

A recent live webinar, co-hosted by RETHINK Retail and Ingenico, brought together industry experts to delve into the disruptive forces shaping the retail industry. Among the panelists were Bradford Giles, Senior VP of Marketing at Ingenico, a renowned company known for its innovative solutions, including the AXIUM POS platform based on Android, Scott Benedict, VP of Partnerships at WhyteSpyder, DeAnn Campbell, Head of Retail Strategy & Insights at AAG Consulting Group, and, Sudhakar Potineni, Former Head of Digital Growth Initiatives at Gap Inc.

Throughout the insightful discussion, the significance of customer experience emerged as a central theme, highlighting the transformative impact of convenience, personalization technology, and the pandemic on retail.

The Resilience of Brick-and-Mortar Stores

The onset of the pandemic sent shockwaves through the retail sector, prompting widespread concerns about the future of brick-and-mortar stores. However, contrary to many expectations, shoppers continued to demonstrate a strong preference for physical shopping experiences. The pandemic highlighted the enduring value of in-store interactions, which offer a sense of tangibility and immediacy that online shopping often lacks. Yet, it was also evident that remote work had altered shopping behaviors, prompting retailers to rethink their strategies to remain relevant in a changing landscape.

Embracing a Hybrid Online-In-Store Shopping Experience

Technology has played a pivotal role in transforming the retail experience. Bradford Giles shared insights into the hybrid online-in-store shopping experience that technology has made possible. “We often look to bigger brands to see where the industry is headed,” Giles stated. 

According to Giles, cloud technology now offers accessible solutions that were once exclusive to larger enterprises. “A lot of this technology is now available through the cloud,” he asserted. Smaller retailers, he added, now possess the ability to recreate the immersive experience of larger stores.

Giles firmly believes that the integration of cloud-based tools allows smaller retailers to compete effectively and enhance their customers’ shopping experience. “The ability for smaller and smaller retailers to be able to bring that larger store experience is doable today,” he concluded.

Consumers today expect the same level of convenience and personalization they receive while shopping online to be available in physical stores. As a result, successful retailers have embraced this approach, seamlessly blending digital and physical elements to create a unified, immersive, and engaging shopping journey. This integration enables retailers to cater to the evolving preferences of their customers effectively.

The Acceleration of Omni-Channel Experiences

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of omnichannel experiences, reshaping the retail landscape significantly. Panelist Sudhakar Potineni highlighted the importance of contactless options such as curbside pickup and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). These changes have become integral to meeting evolving customer demands, ensuring convenience, and enhancing safety during uncertain times. 

Additionally, the pandemic revealed the true impact of omni-channel experiences on consumer brand loyalty. Retailers that could not provide a seamless, omni-channel experience experienced supply chain delays and struggled to retain customer loyalty.

Relevance of an Omnichannel Approach in Building Materials and Home Improvement Retail

The relevance of an omnichannel approach extends beyond traditional retail sectors. In building materials and home improvement retail, the omnichannel model has proven to be a valuable tool. Customers can now visualize and test products, access step-by-step DIY project instructions, and even find qualified professionals for installations. 

Bradford Giles, emphasized the company’s growing focus on enhancing omnichannel scenarios. He shared that their recent discussions centered on optimizing services for contractors in addition to consumers, and implementing online automations to cater to their needs. “At Ingenico, we’ve had more and more conversations about how to improve an omnichannel scenario,” Giles revealed. He went on to explain that the surprising discovery was that the primary focus of these experiences at home improvement stores is not just on the consumer side but also on the contractor side to help streamline their ordering process. 

Solution selling, providing customers with a comprehensive understanding of all project components, is a critical aspect. To achieve this, data and AI play a crucial role in making informed decisions that elevate the customer experience to new heights. 

Transforming Physical Retail Stores through Digital Technology

Digital technology has ushered in transformation across three essential areas of physical retail stores: operational, digital, and human associate. Consumers today seek quick and efficient in-store experiences, leading to the rise of in-store pop-up kiosks and self-checkout options. Technology has significantly improved the efficiency of self-checkout processes, allowing consumers to scan and pay for their items quickly. Personalization, achieved through data and technology, creates authentic, immersive, and memorable in-store experiences that resonate with customers.

Integrating Disruptive Technologies for Enhanced Customer Experiences

The retail industry is witnessing rapid technological disruption, and the success of retailers hinges on aligning these technologies with the specific needs of their customers and products. Ingenico’s AXIUM POS platform is a prime example of how innovative technology can empower retailers. The system offers a Smart POS that delivers high performance and digital experiences for all customers. It also provides payment applications, accelerating go-to-market strategies with Ingenico’s expertise in both payment applications and Android developments. 

The system’s estate and security management ensure uncompromising security enhanced with features from the mobile industry, ensuring peace of mind for both retailers and customers.

Moreover, Ingenico and it’s AXIUM OS expedites the integration of payment, consumer interaction and business solutions, meeting stringent security standards while providing a powerful environment for application developers. The system enables business by providing access to an ecosystem of business apps through its suite of cloud solutions. It also offers customer care and repair services that outsource end-to-end estate management, streamlining solution delivery costs with as a Service model.

Closing Thoughts 

The retail industry faces a dynamic and ever-changing landscape. As disruptive technologies continue to reshape consumer behaviors and expectations, the importance of customer experience remains paramount. Retailers that adapt swiftly to embrace innovation, like Ingenico’s AXIUM POS platform, can create hybrid online-in-store experiences that seamlessly cater to customer preferences. An omnichannel approach further enhances the shopping journey, providing customers with comprehensive solutions and personalized interactions. 

By integrating digital technology effectively, retailers can streamline operations, create authentic experiences, and make informed decisions that prioritize customer satisfaction. As the retail industry embraces the future, those that prioritize customer experience will undoubtedly thrive in this exciting and transformative era.

To learn more, watch the full panel discussion here. If you’re looking for the latest and great payment solutions for retail, visit Ingenico’s website.