What 2022 has taught retailers about pushing for a better shopping experience
Having a mobile-first strategy remains the number one driver to meet customer expectations.
With 2022 coming to a wrap, what were some of the key challenges retailers have faced over the course of the year, and how can capitalising on technology help businesses overcome ongoing challenges and continue to drive strong consumer demand in the region?
In the third podcast episode titled “Keeping up with Asia's demand: Pushing technology past its limits for a better shopping experience”, George Pepes, APAC Vertical Solutions and Marketing Lead for Retail, Healthcare and Hospitality at Zebra Technologies, and Jan Lim, Country Leader, Singapore Marketplace at Amazon, discuss these topics and look back on the learnings for retail businesses this year.
Meeting customer’s needs online is now a “necessity”
First of all, 2022 highlighted the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the purchasing habits of shoppers, who now gravitate towards a mobile and online-first approach to retail. “Consumers remain price sensitive, as over 48% of APAC shoppers in our latest shopper study told us that they rely on their smartphones to check for sales, specials or coupons”, said George Pepes, APAC Vertical Solutions and Marketing Lead at Zebra Technologies.
Unsurprisingly around the globe, 82% have used mobile ordering, according to Zebra’s 15th Shopper Study. 2022 also taught retailers the importance of going online and leveraging new tools to expand their exports and reach a wider audience.
“The pandemic has shifted behaviours online, and what was becoming a habit has become a necessity now,” said Jan Lim, Country Leader, Singapore Marketplace at Amazon, “As customers’ choices and preferences continue to expand, we see them appreciating a wider range of products and services and that creates a great opportunity for retailers and small and medium businesses beyond our own shores.”
Jan Lim also noted that 96% of small and medium businesses will consider cross-border e-commerce, “We're really excited to see the growth and success of these retailers, and how Amazon can play a role to support them.”
Investing in inventory management and equipping retail associates key to customer satisfaction
In today’s context, customer satisfaction equals to being able to deliver on the promise, and inventory management is key to this.
According to Zebra’s study, 64% of shoppers have left without purchasing their intended items, attributed to out-of-stocks (44%) or just having found better deals elsewhere (27%). Likewise, out-of-stock are also 38% of retail associates’ number one frustration. Making sure there is the right stock on hand is important in ensuring both customers’ and retail associates’ satisfaction.
“Real-time inventory is key on several levels to be able to make smarter decisions”, said George Pepes, “Having a pulse on inventory management allows retailers to know how much inventory there is in different locations. It is also key to making the right labour, procurement, merchandising, pricing and promotion decisions.”
George Pepes also explained why the long-term investment and retaining of retail associates is a key element to customer satisfaction, “Retail associates remain a crucial element of the experience, providing a human touchpoint for many shoppers. From a retail associate standpoint, 74% surveyed in APAC feel valued and view their employer more positively when equipped with the right devices to perform their duties.”
He also added that looking ahead, 84% of APAC retail associates agree that stores leveraging retail technology and mobile devices will attract and retain more retail associates in the long run.
Omnichannel is the way to go
“What we’ve seen over the past two years is that it is important for retailers to be where customers are and have an omnichannel strategy,” Jan Lim noted, “That means looking at online, e-commerce and potentially Amazon.sg. We have many tools, payment processing, and security features, that help them grow and protect their businesses. Additionally, sellers can rely on some of Amazon's logistics and infrastructure processes to help overcome any barriers.”
Adding on to this, George Pepes said, “Shoppers today are looking for a blend of in-store and online shopping. Retailers need to be able to deliver an online experience in-store, and an in-store experience online.”
“For Zebra Technologies, we are looking at unified commerce to help our retail customers make smarter decisions, and make sure they have the right technology that gives them 100% visibility of the supply chain, ultimately giving their customers a seamless experience no matter where they shop or how they shop.” George added.