Retail reopening – the importance of an omnichannel service approach

By Daniel Bailey, Vice President, EMEA Enterprise at Zendesk

Published June 12, 2020
Last modified July 31, 2020

As Europe begins to work through a phased scheme to ease lockdown restrictions, retailers are slowly beginning to re-open. However, with social distancing guidelines still in place, opening the stores involves a series of special considerations that make it more complex than before.

Retailers are now faced with the challenge of creating a positive customer experience whilst still adhering to government rules and guidelines. And, with customers now accustomed to new ways of online shopping, retailers need to learn how to adapt to new customer buying habits and meet the increase in demand for digital communications and customer service.

Rethinking in-store appointments

As physical space within stores will be limited, due to social distancing guidelines, some brands may encourage their customers to browse online before making an in-store appointment. By encouraging browsing to happen online, store visits don’t require as much time, making it possible to increase the number of customers served each day. For example, customers could select online 3 items they would like to choose between and then make an appointment to be ‘front of line’ to go into the store to view these three and make their selection. This will allow stores to manage the flows of traffic to their stores while making each store visit efficient for both the customer - who doesn’t have to queue - and the store.

Using stores as a service hub

To lighten the current pressure on delivery services, stores could establish clearer processes to fulfil click-and-collect services. This will allow businesses to connect their physical stores with their ecommerce services, for example, stores can be used to return or exchange items they have been delivered incorrectly.

By giving store assistants access to your CRM through Zendesk’s mobile application, stores could also be transformed into service hubs, giving customers the necessary information ahead of time through online service - such as providing confirmation of stock availability - so that customers know what to expect when they come in-store.

Introduce new communications channels

Retailers can also consider increasing the communication channels between their online platforms, physical stores and customers in order to successfully navigate adjusting to the new normal. For example, a brand could provide a virtual shopping experience for customers shopping at home through video calls, use WhatsApp and other messaging platforms to inform a customer whether the item they are interested in is in stock or use VR to help customers replicate an in-store shopping experience.

Connecting it all with a flexible CRM platform

In order to offer your customers a seamless, personalised retail experience, it’s important to have a single view of each customer, connecting each and every touchpoint into one record. Connecting with clients remotely requires an agile approach to CRM, so you can combine service records, such as interactions with chatbots, knowledge management systems and AI for recommendations, with the ecommerce experience, such as understanding what items are in their basket in real-time.

As the world begins to reopen, the opportunity for retailers is to reimagine the store experience, blending safe practices with smart uses of technology to manage traffic flows and customer expectations.

The next few months will require an innovative, human focused approach to reopening. Leveraging data and an omnichannel approach to understand your customers with a flexible, agile CRM platform will help you to connect the dots to create a new standard of shopping experience while keeping everybody safe.