Welcome to 2022 — where new digital conveniences give us the power to buy practically anything with the tap of a finger, but where the age-old phrase “The customer is always right” is still the mantra. Every retailer is in a race to make customers happier and more loyal, and all of the talk about digital transformation and digital disruption is making that race feel like the final lap of the Indy 500.
In other words, retailers are adopting new technology faster than ever to create new customer experiences that lead to new competitive edges, new markets, and new revenue streams. But in this accelerated world, many of them are mistaking any ol’ tech for technology that actually makes a valuable impact on their business.
There’s a reason why “The technology is always right,” isn’t age-old wisdom. Just because a tool or system is shiny and fancy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your business. Instead, the focus should be on meaningful digital innovation. Retailers shouldn’t start using new technology just for the sake of adding technology. A tool or system is only right for your business if it leads to a meaningful result.
How do you determine if that piece of technology you’re eyeing is actually meaningful? Ask yourself these 3 questions:
“Does it align with our overall business goals?”
Google the term “digital transformation in retail”, and you’ll see there are over 314 million results. With so much talk about transforming your digital experience, it’s easy to suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome. Sure, some technology sounds really cool — but how will you actually use it? When you’re evaluating retail technology, you need to think specifically about how it will:
- Give you a competitive edge
- Improve relationships with your customers
- Help you access new markets
- Generate more revenue
Does this piece of technology help you do any of these things? Does it help you solve a challenge you’re actively trying to overcome? The answers to these questions transcend business divisions like Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, or Product. All of these teams have use cases for new digital technology. Find the most meaningful solution, and you’re on your way to becoming more agile, flexible, and prepared for growth – benefits that help you reach your most overarching business goals.
“Does it streamline our business operations?”
How can a new piece of retail technology make your team’s work less repetitive and free up time to focus on more impactful things? That’s the question you have to ask yourself when you’re evaluating a new tool or system.
While streamlined business operations can create a more profitable organization, that’s not the only benefit. They can also give your team a shot of motivation that helps boost retention and alleviate some of the turnover issues that have become so prevalent across retail.
For example, does a specific technology system come with integrations that will automate manual work? Does it simplify processes so your team can work smarter and faster without help from IT?
Streamlined business operations can also boost your reputation. For example, if a piece of technology gives you the power to run win-back campaigns in real-time, your chances of having dissatisfied customers leaving negative reviews and telling their friends about a disappointing experience go down dramatically.
“Does it improve and/or elevate our customer experience?”
To succeed in today’s retail, you need technology that can connect the dots through each customer’s entire relationship with you. If a new tool or system can enable you to collect, analyze, optimize, and act on customer data at all touchpoints, it will be easy to see which facets of your customer experience are working, which ones need some improvement, which opportunities for personalization you can leverage, and which next-best actions can make things bigger and better.
Even a modest increase in customer experience can lead to big business results, as it’s estimated that a superior customer experience brings in 4-8% more revenue than competitors that are lagging.
What does it look like when the right answers to all of these questions come together?
Two words: Great Clips.
Aimed at being the high-tech leader in the haircare industry, Great Clips is always looking for new technology that can support brand growth and improve experiences for franchisees, salon teams, and customers. So far, they’ve proven that you can be high-tech and high-touch all at the same time.
For example, their Online Check-In feature shows customers which salons are nearby, along with the wait time at each. From there, a customer can add his name to the waitlist and even get a text message when his wait time is down to 15 minutes. This added convenience is something customers will remember and tell their friends about, which can help Great Clips gain a competitive edge and drive more revenue.
Another meaningful piece of technology, Clip Notes, contains detailed notes about each customer’s haircut that can be used to provide the same quality every time, no matter who cuts her hair. Not only does it streamline the haircut process for the employee by saving valuable discovery time, it makes things easier for the customer. Even better, walking out each time with a haircut she really likes gives the customer a reason to come back again and again.
It’s time to create similar successes for your retail business. Your technology mission is to discover what will help you quickly scale, automate, innovate, and manage complexity. Find it and you’ll reach that meaningful state of digital innovation that every retailer is racing towards.