Tag Archives: smart devices

Customers want service not sci-fi from high street retailers

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We all know the 2019 outlook for brick and mortar retail looks troubled and indeed it’s barely a month into the year and we’ve already seen Patisserie Valerie collapse into administration. Are we surprised? You only need to look at the makeup of the high street to see the extraordinary amount of competition facing a business like this coupled with the fact that the business hadn’t changed much since its launch. It needed to adapt and if brick and mortar retailers focus on aligning their strategies to current market conditions and take on board what customers say, a one size fits all decline isn’t inevitable.

We recently conducted a survey ‘Service, not Sci-Fi’ that looked at the reasons people were turning away from retailers but also how they might turn back. While cost cutting and staff consolidation might be the first response to disappointing figures, our survey showed this could have an immediate detrimental impact on sales. Our study found that 81% of UK shoppers felt that personal touch had disappeared from retail customer service in modern Britain. Almost a third (32%) blamed an over-reliance on technology for this decline. And half of those polled thought that companies in the UK use technology to save money, rather than improve customer experience.

Despite living in a world driven by technology, most people don’t want technology to sacrifice human opinion and experience. Only 30% said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, 22% would like to see smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, 16% desire a VR changing room, while 14% want AR for visualise products at home and 9% seek a talking robotic assistant.

When asked what makes a great brick and mortar shopping experience, half of those polled said it was down to having good staff on the shop floor; staff that know the products (49%) and staff that go the extra mile (47%). Coupled with this, 61% of the nation would prefer to deal with someone face-to-face when complaining, while 59% liked a human interaction when enquiring or trying to find out more about a product and 73% wanted to see someone when being issued with a refund.

And back to the impact on the bottom line – a third of Brits say that the personal touch is more likely to encourage them make a repeat purchase, and more than a fifth (22%) claim they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant, incrementally adding to sales. Over a third (34%) of shoppers stated that a poor experience has driven them to buy from another retailer.

The research also highlights the impact of the decline of local retailers, with a quarter of Brits saying they miss shopping somewhere where people recognise them and 16% confessing to preferring talking through a purchase with someone in-store, while a quarter reveal that online shopping is less fun than buying something in a real shop. The convenience of a store’s location is also important according to 43% of respondents which means that retailers should consolidate their estates. Many will notice immediate effects. This only emphasises the need to carefully consider the experience provided in-store and whether their staff can deliver the expected experience.

With traditional retail under more pressure than ever and an astonishing 81% of people feeling that the personal touch has disappeared from shopping, businesses need to focus on their customer experience strategies to keep people coming back for more.

To read the article please visit The Drum.

To read more about our Service not Sci-fi research please visit the Gekko website.

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Education is key for the connected home

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The connected home, moving beyond the early adopter stage, is now trickling into the mainstream. Research we recently undertook highlighted that 17% of Brits would like and have no concerns about installing smart devices into their home. While on the other side of the pond a study by Accenture illustrates that 69% of consumers are planning to buy a connected home device in the next five years.

The entrance of the world’s biggest tech companies into the smart home market is likely to reassure consumers and accelerate adoption. Google’s £1.9 billion acquisition of Nest at the beginning of the year demonstrated its desire to be at the forefront of smart technology while Apple recently unveiled its HomeKit – a suite of tools for controlling home appliances.

However despite the growing appetite amongst consumers for ownership of smart devices, a great number remain unconvinced or cautious, with our research also revealing that an education job is needed on their use and set-up. Backing this up, just over a third of respondents also cited third party endorsements – whether through word of mouth or in-store advice – as the most important factor when researching a purchase. The stat highlighting the emphasis brands need to place on their in-store education experience. Furthermore, education is crucial for putting consumers’ minds at rest. Certainly an important thing to consider when 23 per cent of those interviewed were concerned with the complexity of setting up smart devices and a further 39 per cent were concerned that smart devices would be too intrusive or were worried that their data would be collected and used inappropriately.

What stood out for us from the research, is that human interaction and face-to-face communication is still hugely important in the purchasing journey. Brands therefore need to capitalise on this by developing their in-store strategies with specially trained in-store brand ambassadors. Yet they must also ensure their digital and in-store offerings are unified providing a seamless customer experience.

An example of major brands doing this effectively are Currys and PC World. They are rolling out ‘smart technology areas’ across their stores to help educate consumers and enable them to interact with connected appliances. Moreover they are investing in training their employees on smart technology and launching online microsites for customers which are dedicated to smart technologies.

Another industry where connected home devices are making a huge impact is the energy sector. With the soaring costs of utility bills securing significant recent media coverage, it is perhaps no surprise that smart thermostats to control a home’s heating are the most popular devices followed closely by lighting control systems. In a tight economy, where there is consumer desire to cut back on energy bills and with winter fast approaching, utility brands must start devoting more resources to marketing smart meters.

However as with all new technology it takes time for consumers to get on board and brands must support this journey by educating people on the products available and how they enhance your life by fitting in seamlessly or by accident. In my opinion, the ultimate winners of the connected home will come down to those who can provide a balance of security and privacy, whilst being reasonably priced with useful and intuitive functionality.

 

Read more at: http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/09/02/education-is-key-for-the-connected-home/

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