The State of the Industry: 3 Important Retail-Focused Insights From ShopTalk 2017

The Helpshift sales executives have just returned from Copenhagen, where they had the privilege of joining some of the biggest names in retail today at Shoptalk Europe. They came away with some great insights about what’s shaping the current retail landscape, and wanted to share their learnings.

“Everyone was talking about how chatbots and artificial intelligence will propel the industry forward,” said Helpshift’s Product Solutions Manager Kinsey Eaton. “But right now it seems to be a lot of talk—thoughtful talk nonetheless—but not so much action. There is still a lot up in the air about how to use chatbots for retail throughout the overall customer experience, but there’s no debating the value of having that kind of instant service for customer support.”

Eaton and the team also pointed out these three key areas of interest from conversations at the conference:

1. It’s About Bringing The Digital Experience To Brick And Mortar. And Vice Versa.

For awhile, all the hype was about online shopping and optimizing the online experience. Many retailers have focused on this already (though many still need to revamp), but now it’s important that they bring this same friendly online user experience back to their storefronts.

CEO Jerry Storch of Canadian retail business group, Hudson’s Bay (owner and operator of stores like Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue), is at the forefront of this new trend and spoke about the future of retail. He touts the idea “all channel,” where the store meets the customer wherever the customer wants to be. Whether it’s mobile, online, or brick and mortar, there needs to a consistent experience for shoppers.

This means training sales associates to work across channels, for instance providing online shoppers with an in-store, personal sales associate to help them along their shopping journey. Likewise this also means bringing the ease of digital to storefronts. A futuristic example of this is the “memory mirror,” a mirror that allows in-store shoppers to assess how they look in different outfits without actually having to try them on.

2. …and Brick and Mortar Still Matters. A Lot.

This is pretty shocking: also according to Storch, a higher percentage of millennials shop for deals in-store than baby boomers (74 percent versus 57 percent, respectively)! Everyone gives millennials a hard time about being addicted to their phones, but in reality they are proportionately more likely to go to a brick and mortar store.

Both of these groups are still online shopping, but this just accentuates the previous point of how important it is to create a seamless experience across channels, and make shopping in-store as easy as it is to narrow down a selection online.

3. Customer to Customer Communities are on the Rise

Retail companies are starting to leverage existing brand ambassadors to handle sales and service questions for them. Valued customers, or consumers with knowledge of the business are incentivized to chime in.

French peer to peer community service, TokyWoky, allows brands to invite their customers to speak directly with one another via a real-time chat module. This allows customers to get instant answers to their questions, while also engaging their most loyal consumer-base. Brands also have access to honest feedback that helps them improve their business. It’s a solid model, and it’s this kind of innovative and engaging customer experience that will move the industry in the right direction.

Learn More

Part of having a great overall customer experience is by having a great support experience, and that’s where Helpshift comes in. Learn how Helpshift’s intelligent digital customer support platform can help reduce cart abandonment for your business.

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