When you are in a store and ready to check out, you go to a queue, and there is a physical register. When you are online, you still add things to a cart and then follow a checkout flow. But how much longer will these paradigms still exist? Consumers can now make purchases from practically anywhere, anytime, with on-demand and in-context conversion.
The evolution of the point of sale (POS) has gone from the cash register to the online cart to now virtually anything.
Today, instead of making a trip to the store to buy shampoo, or searching for it online, you can shout out to your Amazon Alexa or other voice-activated device while you are in the shower... and have it on your doorstep in a matter of hours.
To satisfy such evolving demand, marketers must meet consumers' expectations by being available to users—wherever those users might be.
With all the emerging touchpoints available to consumers, marketers must ensure that they have a holistic digital strategy with clearly defined goals that support the entire organization, beginning with the establishment of a cohesive user experience (UX) across all digital channels.
Ignoring UX, or not getting it right, can be extremely time-consuming and costly. In fact, it is up to 100 times more expensive to fix a UX error after development than it would have been to implement it ahead of time.
Understanding UX and adapting accordingly has never been more crucial for marketers. Here are four steps marketers need to take to ensure successful user experiences.
1. Invest in holistic UX
From a consumer perspective, the brand experience must be the same on a mobile device, desktop, in-store, and even when using voice-activated technology.
For example, if customers realize they are out of paper towels, they should be able to easily reorder the product at the exact moment of realization, with equal ease across all potential touchpoints. They shouldn't have to wait until they're at their computer, nor should they have to worry about remembering their credit card number or whether the product will ship to their address.
Interactions need to be designed to be as frictionless as possible in all channels, and to accept as many forms of payment as possible. In other words, all the information should be managed and stored within the retailer's site and applied to every interaction.
In short, brands must provide a seamless UX, no matter the channel, or risk losing customers.
2. Capitalize on personal data
Any type of digital interaction point, whether voice-activated, mobile, or desktop, can be an intelligent resource for marketers seeking to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. To truly improve commerce offerings, marketers need to take advantage of the valuable consumer data from those interactions.
Using data drawn from consumers' shopping behaviors allows marketers to provide better offers and experiences to meet each person's preferences. For example, most brands offer exclusive deals for customers who purchase through certain channels—perhaps texting customers a special promo code or sale, or going further to offer a special deal if they transact directly to buy that product, such as through Amazon Alexa. Though it's great that marketers are providing additional value to these customers, the offers are usually one-size-fits all and aren't tailored to the individual customer's preferences, wants, or needs.
Instead, marketers should use browsing or purchasing history to offer personalized deals. Savvy marketers already know that shoppers are more likely to convert when they're offered deals for products they want, and the same thinking applies for voice or messaging channels. If you don't use customer data to personalize interactions on these devices, you're essentially leaving money on the table.
3. Streamline internal processes
Now that shoppers can purchase anything from virtually anywhere and at any time, their expectations have evolved. If they order multiple items at separate times in a day, from different devices, they still expect to receive those items on their doorstep in the same box. Consumers will remain loyal to the retailers that offer that degree of fulfillment complexity and reliable shipping.
Though internal processes, such as shipping and distribution, may not seem a marketing problem, any action or process that touches the customer directly affects loyalty and sales. That means the entire organization, from Marketing to Supply Chain, must be informed and aligned on promotions and marketing strategy. If the backend isn't prepared to facilitate an influx of orders, you're selling false promises to your customers.
4. Enable one-click purchasing
As the ease of one-click purchasing makes it more popular among consumers, it is simultaneously becoming the most lucrative POS for retailers. However, retailers must realize that enabling single-click purchasing, or even voice-activated purchasing, will require optimized internal processes that are aligned with modern design patterns. That requires a seamless experience from the moment of discovery to delivery.
To give their customers what they really want, brands will have to master the previously listed tips prior to implementing one-click purchasing. Not offering it will ultimately cost brands their customers, as they move on to brands that are able to meet all their evolving needs.
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Massive advancements in technological innovations have expanded the definition of POS and influenced a shift in shopper behavior. Digital solutions are experiencing constant iteration, and the user touchpoints are changing. A future where POS is a zero-user-interface experience may not be far off, and the technology is there now to support revolutionizing the way such transactions are done.
Marketers have a unique opportunity now to match the psychology of the buyer with the purchasing experience, and to create an infinite number of transaction opportunities. But they need to make sure the foundation is in place today.