Personalization is one of the largest trends in customer demands in retail and across most sectors. Having become accustomed to digital-first experiences over the last few years, online retailers and e-commerce platforms were forced to up their personalization game to meet this rapid, wide-scale adoption of digital transactions. As a result, McKinsey found that 71% of consumers expected brands to provide personalization in their engagements and 76% get frustrated when they don’t find it.
In 2023, this demand for personalized customer experiences has only grown. According to Statista, 73% of shoppers expect more personalized experiences as technology advances and 64% expect the same when they increase their spending.
Within the world of retail, customer expectations for in-store personalization are even more complex than online. Customers expect seamless, curated experiences when they visit retail stores, with research finding that 84% of customers stated they’d be more likely to return to stores with a pleasant atmosphere. A further 51% stated that interacting with friendly and knowledgeable staff is the most important factor that creates a pleasant in-store experience.
While these expectations are understandable, the question is, how do retail stores create personalized customer experiences at scale in a manner that reflects the online shopping experience? Especially when staff is preoccupied with overseeing checkout and service counters and customers are stuck waiting in lines to purchase items, collect and return goods, make inquiries, and sign up for loyalty programs.
Personalization becomes a tall, if not impossible, order for retail stores when there’s no physical or operational space for it. If retail enterprises are serious about winning long-term customer loyalty through high-powered personalization, they first need to get rid of the lines creating barriers to personalization opportunities.
Removing these lines creates opportunities for the right kinds of lines, lines that allow for greater customer personalization and an enhanced in-store experience.
Drawing the line on “bad” lines in in-store retail operations
Before we dive into the kind of lines you want within your retail, let’s clarify what we mean by the “wrong” kinds of lines, lines that customers don’t want to find themselves in. Waiting in checkout lines, collection and returns lines, inquiries, and sign-up lines where the customer at the counter has an issue or concern.
They’re the kinds of lines no customers want to be caught in. Retailers also don’t want to be creating these kinds of in-store experiences, but it’s an inevitable byproduct of the existing operational model. These lines are effective barriers preventing in-store efficiency and optimization, keeping your customers tapping their feet. They also place additional strain on your staff to produce speedy services, when they may not have the resources at their fingertips.
Long lines, extensive waiting times, and a lack of access to quick answers won’t just end customers racing towards the exit. They’re also the catalyst for bad online reviews which can have a significant impact on consumer trust and brand loyalty, not to mention send shoppers straight into competitor stores.
So what are the “right” kinds of lines for retail businesses and customers?
Despite the compounding negative impact that the wrong kinds of lines can have, some lines benefit your customers and add value to your in-store experience. Through these lines, personalization becomes not only possible but scalable too! So what do we mean when we talk about “good” lines?
They’re lines that provide access to the kind of tailored, personalized customer experiences your shoppers want. Lines of credit, access to alternative payment methods like Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), gifting, and tailored upsell offerings that lead to higher value purchases and loyalty program sign-ups are all prime examples of “good” lines that enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
In particular, there’s significant customer demand for greater variety and personalization in payment methods. A recent study by Accenture found that 31% of consumers who shopped in-store wanted access to alternative payment methods to credit cards like BNPL. A further 6% of consumers were found to use BNPL at least 5 times a month and 62% of current BNPL users believe it could replace their credit cards, thanks to the lower fees and zero interest.
Aside from more payment options to personalize their purchasing experience, customers also want greater personalization via tailored upsell offerings and special promotions. Research has found that 49% of consumers state they would become repeat customers. Another study found shoppers are 40% more likely to spend more than planned when they feel their shopping experience has been personalized. if offered a personalized product or service experience by a brand.
These lines benefit your customers, and they want fast, instant access to them.
They don’t want to wait in line to access your “good” lines or have extensive back-and-forth conversations with time-strapped staff members who might not have the answers on hand.
Trying to manually train staff and every new employee in your various loyalty programs, special offers, credit application procedures, and alternative payment options, as well as how to identify upsell opportunities takes time and investment in protocol – all of which go to waste if an employee resigns.
Making room for the right kinds of lines that captivate your customers
No matter what good lines you want to introduce in your store, all good lines begin with self-service capabilities. Before you can think about introducing good lines, you first need to eliminate the bad ones taking up space, time, and finite resources. The quickest, most effective way to do this is to introduce self-service kiosks across all your retail stores.
Self-service kiosks allow customers to scan, pay, and pack their items, make inquiries, arrange collections and returns, sign up for loyalty programs, and select special offers with checkout. They eliminate the need for unnecessary lines and wait times that leave customers frustrated and less likely to return.
Aila’s self-service platform, for instance, enables cashless payments, drop-off and returns, smart fitting room, product discovery, gifting, and loyalty program sign-ups, delivering tailored experiences that work with your brand and store planograms.
With the hardware and foundation in place, you can then begin utilizing your self-service kiosks to introduce good lines, including rolling out lines of credit, alternative payment methods like BNPL, loyalty and gifting programs, and access to curated special offers. All of these lines are digital and automated, meaning customers get instant access to the information they need in a few clicks.
Self-service kiosks create a faster, more seamless, and personalized in-store shopping experience, increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) at retail stores.
It frees up your staff’s time, allowing them the time and freedom needed to engage with in-store customers and provide tailored assistance and recommendations that enhance their experience. The kiosks run autonomously, meaning your employees don’t need to manually oversee them, eliminating the need to train staff members on hardware and software functionalities.
The line begins with self-service
Delivering a superior customer experience in your retail store doesn’t need to be a costly, complex, and time-consuming process. Implementing good lines that enhance the value of your in-store experience, meet customer demands for personalization, and boost your bottom line begins with making them accessible. Aila’s intuitive self-service hardware makes it an easy and efficient task for retail enterprises.
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