Connecting the assisted and unassisted channels. A slightly elementary but effective way of summarising the direction companies thinking about Omni-Channel have been going. Mobile apps, web and occasionally kiosks being the channels they want to leverage alongside POS modernisation projects. When I meet with Retail customers, optimising the customer journeys, like Click & Collect, is usually top of the agenda. In hospitality, it seems the market is taking a slightly more cautious approach. Nevertheless, they are still keeping a weather eye on things like paying and ordering at a table.
To do this, however, means packing functionality into those unassisted channels, allowing them to be an effective selling and engagement platform – just like the store. As self-professed experts in this field, we are always looking for the common denominators in why these journeys are so appealing to both the chains and the end-users themselves. We use these trends as the basis to expand both our conceptual thinking as well as our resultant product offerings. In this light, one of the most common discussions we have with our clients is around Customer Capture.
Customer capture on web channels is essential for Bricks and Mortar retailers to remain competitive because they can leverage consumer’s online footprint. In the web-orientated world, our online footprint is gold dust. Data on what we look at, like, share and put in wish-lists can all be used to incite a spend next time we visit or more proactively it can be exploited through digital engagement channels like email or push notifications. This will continue to evolve. In the not-so-distant future, unidentified customer footprint will be regarded by the business as a symptom of poor engagement.
Whether it be an order from the web, a reservation from a mobile or a purchase for delivery in-store – customer capture is a critical step. On face value, this may seem obvious, that clearly if the customer makes an order, we need to know who they are. But customer’s details should not just be bespoke details typed in on the spot. Every application must be able to associate the ordering customer with their already existing account or allow them to make one right there. In retail, this is also a platform to enhance the user experience by suggesting more accurate delivery options and estimates. Similarly, cross-selling through “recommended for you” products is a new possibility both online and in the store. This can be leveraged in Hospitality as well. For example, Advance orders can be paid for using past payment methods. However, once orders are placed and digital journeys commenced online the right mechanisms need to be in place to allow them to be continued on other channels and in the store.
Customer capture plays an important role in making sure that digital journeys are not confined to the unassisted channels like mobile and web. In retail, when assisted sellers or kiosks can identify customers critical cross-channel fulfilment’s like click and collect can be executed. More importantly though wishlists and baskets as well as past purchases are available to staff. From here cross-selling opportunities present themselves, as shop assistants can enhance their more personal engagement to recommend similar products the customer might want to buy. Interestingly, this can work the other way around as baskets and wish lists can be built in store to be checked out online.
In Hospitality, continuing digital journeys becomes essential as we take off-site pre-orders and convert them to live bills. Pre-Orders that occur offsite naturally need to be picked up by on-site systems like kitchen printers and POS so that they can be fulfilled when the customer arrives. But at some stage when the customer enters staff and systems need to be able to identify the individual and associate them with their order. Once this has been done, we know who’s at which table and let them make orders on their phone to contribute to their live bill, or let staff do on the POS.
It’s been interesting to see how various forms of customer capture have evolved for each channel. On the web, a simple username or email address in conjunction with a password needs no introduction as its occurrences border on incessant whenever we go online. Increasingly on consumer apps, we’re seeing the use of social media platforms like Facebook a quick-fire way of logging. On the POS a swipe of a loyalty card or a simple customer look up using a name, email, postcode etc has become familiar to consumers. These methods utilised in the store or restaurant are clunky however, and don’t fall into line with the ease and convenience that consumers expect.
Customer capturing technology around the assisted channels will be the next battle that we endure. Already the loyalty apps themselves provide the barcode that can be scanned. But this is still not efficient as a process, as customers still have to flick through all the innumerable apps on their phone and probably log in as well. Technologies around beacons and sophisticated Wi-fi look like an obvious next step but still rely on the customer having a certain app and providers finding sneaky ways to access a device ID and tie it to a customer profile. A conundrum for now, it will be interesting to see how the battle of customer capture plays out and who wins the day.
JULIUS CARRELL – BUSINESS DEVELOPEMENT EXECUTIVE