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Driving increased customer experience and engagement

By BT | Wednesday March 6 2024 | UPDATED 06.03.24

The retail industry is undergoing significant transformation, driven by changes in consumer behaviour, technology, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and the need to deliver on sustainability

There’s been a marked shift in the consumer shopping experience, where the ‘Amazonification’ of retailers has meant that businesses are increasingly offering reduced prices, loyalty schemes, free deliveries and returns.

The pandemic accelerated online activity, with more and more consumers engaging with customer services and purchasing items via digital means, due to the ease of switching between retailers.

Today, 76% of customers expect increased personalisation. They want, and increasingly expect,retailers to understand and act upon their individual preferences and buying behaviours.

In-store and online channels both have strong claims on the consumer’s wallet, with January 2023 figuresshowing that 61% preferred in-store purchases, while 39% shopped more online. Mobile, too, is a distinctpresence as the most rapidly expanding segment of the UK retail sector, with 43% of retail conducted throughsmartphones and tablets.

Physical retail stores are having to respond to these behaviour shifts and deliver experiential customer experiences - acting more like showrooms - places to engage, rather than places to merely sell items.

With retail sales in the UK experiencing a decline in FY 2022 due to soaring inflation, these dynamic market challenges are encouraging retailers to:

 

Embrace agile business models

Retailers are embracing flexible business models and new digital technologies to meet customer demands for convenience and seamless experiences.

Engage with customers in any location via omnichannel integration

Retailers are modernising their marketing and communications strategy as they seek to engage with their customers wherever they are via multiple messaging channels, or in-store, through the metaverse with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) ‘3D Internet’ experiences.

Offer personalised experiences

Consumer data is becoming increasingly important, enabling retailers to create incremental advertising revenue through personalised offers and loyalty schemes, aligned to the needs of their customers.

Retailers must embrace the latest digital solutions to help them gain a competitive advantage as consumer needs evolve.

This is where we can provide added value. As the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications, related secure digital products, solutions and services, and retail stores, we’ve been serving the UK’s retail sector for 18 years, connecting 60,000 retail locations across the country.

We provide connectivity and innovation for the UK’s most successful retailers - supporting 9 out of 10 of the UK's top retailers. It means we have a unique and powerful perspective. We live and breathe the current challenges facing the retail sector - and embrace future opportunities.

Our recently published 'Future of Retail' whitepaperexplores how smart technology choices can transform operations, customer experiences and sustainability, helping retailers stay ahead of the competition.

We have a suite of digital products and solutions that can help retailers enhance customer experience and engagement, including Smart Messaging, AR and VR.

Smart Messaging

Smart Messaging is an easy way of managing your two-way conversations across a wide choice of channels, all through a single, cloud-based platform.

This solution elevates your customer experience, allowing you to evolve your communications in step with your customers. It lets you provide Rich Messaging for those customers who can receive it, at the same time as finding more impactful ways of using SMS, like sharing personalised promotions or click and collect notifications.

Key benefits

Greater choice of channels

Using similar channels to customers means they’re more likely to see and respond to retailers’ messages - channels such as SMS, email, RCS Business Messaging, WhatsApp for Business, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messages and Apple Messages for Business.

Manage everything in one place

Handle messaging centrally through a single platform,using our simple drag-and-drop interface. Our interface allows retailers to create and manage campaigns and customer interactions across multiple channels.

Customer Data Platform

Obtain a 360 view of your customers and create targeted campaigns that really resonate with them. By leveraging this data, you can provide your customers with a truly personalised experience.

Seamless integration

Our solution enables retailers to rapidly integrate Smart Messaging into their existing business systems, so it’s easier to get started straight away. It also automates processes, freeing up staff time and resources.

Real-time reporting

Our customisable dashboard enables retailers to see how their messages perform in real-time. It allows them to choose time ranges, analyse volumes and retrieve the information needed to plan future campaigns and communications.

Retail use cases for Smart Messaging

Customer-focused

Personalised promotions and discounts

Enhanced loyalty schemes

• Improved in-store experience (QR codes)

• Click and Collect notifications

• Where is my order?

• Billing alerts

• One-time passwords

• Personalised videos (e.g. year-in-review)

• Chatbots and virtual assistants

• Conversational customer support

 

Employee-focused

Work shift allocation

• Assessment of employee satisfaction

• In-store announcements for staff

 

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

 

One of the best ways to ensure customers return in-store is through experiential, personalised shopping experiences that make retailers stand out from the crowd.

There’s currently a significant momentum behind the Metaverse – a collective virtual shared space - and growing excitement around immersive ‘3D internet’ in-store experiences.

AR is when virtual features are placed on top of your real-world view, supplementing your world with digital objects of any kind.

VR is when your field of vision is entirely replaced by an immersive experience – it completely replaces your world with a virtual one.

New innovations in AR and VR technology areredefining the in-store experience to enhance customer experiences and engagement, including:

 

intelligent mirrors that can pair outfits with accessories
personalised virtual displays that adapt to things like the weather
augmented reality where the customer can try on clothes virtually or turn on a 3D fan to reflect a fashion-shoot in the changing room mirror

We’re helping to pioneer the latest innovations in the immersive retail space. One of our major retail customers launched a new AR shopping app in January 2022 using our technology, which is now live in-store and available to use by shoppers. The app allows users to navigate their way around the retailer’s store throughan AR filter, which is operated via a smartphone camera.

Immersive Spaces

In May 2023, we launched our Immersive Spacessolution, creating the UK’s first 5G-enabled interactive simulation experience.

Launched in partnership with Immersive Interactive Ltd, it simulates real-life environments within an internal or external room, or mobile unit – to create an interactive immersive experience.

The fully immersive rooms are connected to our reliable, high-performance EE mobile network, using cameras and HD projectors to bring 360° content to life across the space’s walls and floor.

Inside the space, customers can experience real-life or imagined scenarios in detail, and add interactive elements – virtually transporting themselves into simulated environments, augmented with lights, sounds, and even smells.

With retailers relying on pop-up stores and other experiential strategies to create unique and immersive shopping experiences that attract customers and build brand awareness, the Immersive Spaces solution can facilitate this and position retailers as relevant and forward thinking.

Our fully integrated AR and VR digital solutions are delivered by our highly experienced digital technology team, who provide ongoing training and development to our customers’ staff.

We offer the complete solution for businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve, with cutting-edge, easy-to-use digital solutions such as Smart Messaging, and immersive solutions like AR and VR, that can help driveenhanced customer experience and engagement.

Building an agile, high-performance, cloud-centric network infrastructure is critical to adopting any advanced new digital innovations.

And as the third largest investor in research and development over the past 10 years, with a portfolio of over 4,700 patents, our commitment to innovation is so long-standing it’s become embedded in our DNA.

As the UK’s leading telecoms company in deliveringseamless, secure and sustainable digital infrastructure, we’re ideally placed to provide a fully integrated service, at scale, for UK retailers looking to enhance shopping experiences for their customers.

To find out more, email us at smart.messaging@bt.com.

 

 

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