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How retailers can future-proof customer experience in 2021

This current unprecedented crisis is not only taking a toll on public health, but it is also causing serious economic consequences across the globe. These macroeconomic hardships are affecting every business — especially the retail industry. As strict and rolling lockdowns are being enforced all over the world, retail stores started closing (both temporarily and permanently) as foot traffic came to a halt. 

Stocks ran out as people stockpiled essential goods while production and supply chains slowed. On top of that, businesses had to quickly adjust to protect their employees’ safety and well-being.

Shopper behaviours go online, and stay online

In a recent Australia Post study, e-commerce is up 80 per cent on the same period as last year. Forced by closures and restrictions, traditionally offline buyers have no other choice but to go online, essentially converting them into a different type of buyer longer term.

Deloitte says that retailers with strong e-commerce platforms and an online-ready returns and support have thrived during this crisis by connecting with their customers and considering their need for safety and convenience.

The future of bricks and mortar

The economics for brick and mortar has changed overnight.  Paying rent with low foot traffic is one thing, having a large retail space with no shoppers is another.

Perhaps the future of physical retail will place more emphasis on fitting, customer service and distribution, than as the main point of sale. While much of the research and purchase decisions are done online.

Augmenting the customer experience with digital channels is the only way to thrive in the new normal. Brick-and-mortar stores are now only a small part of the whole customer experience — and retailers need to zero in on the other essential parts of a holistic CX.

How to measure retail CX

Before taking any big steps, it is critical to benchmark where your business currently is in terms of modern Customer Experience. 

Are you utilising e-commerce? Do you have a single customer view? Do you have a robust loyalty program? Are you leveraging marketing automation?

Actively measuring and benchmarking will enable an organisation to identify and prioritise weaknesses and build a strategic roadmap towards modernisation. 

AFDigital, a Salesforce Consulting Partner that specialises in Customer Experience, have developed the Customer Experience (CX) Maturity Framework that divides CX Maturity into five levels, from Initiating to Autonomous.

Not all organisations are shaped the same, the CX Maturity Framework measures key aspects of CX across broad topics including Marketing, eCommerce, Service, Data and Leadership, scoring and aggregating each to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.

  • Initiating – Prototyping, Planning, Piloting
  • Enabling – Learning, momentum, change
  • Managing – Enabled, structured, process driven.
  • Optimising – Templated, data driven, efficient.
  • Autonomous – Automated, visionary, in-flow

Try this CX Maturity Self-Assessment Tool

Along with this framework, AFDigital has also come up with a free 5-minute CX Maturity Self-Assessment that enables any business to benchmark their CX. First developed in 2014, this model has been iterated and enhanced over the years, and used in private consultation with clients like Fonterra, Audi, Nikon and Yamaha among others. 

AFDigital created this self-assessment to help businesses future-proof their Customer Experience model and guide retailers through the path to CX Maturity. With state-of-the-art automation technology such as Salesforce that covers all bases (Sales, Service, and Marketing), AFDigital aims to enable retailers to build a smarter and more relevant experience for their customers. 

Take the free 5-minute CX Maturity Self-Assessment on AFDigital’s website and receive your score!

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