The fashion industry has always been famously slow to adopt new technology, and while most fashion brands at least now have an e-commerce component (that's right, most), many of them seem to feel like that alone is enough to bring them success in the modern age. In reality, though, most of them are not doing nearly as much as they could be to engage with and facilitate shopping for their customers through digital technology.
A new study released by NewStore, a mobile retail platform, details all of the ways in which brands could utilize mobile capabilities to their direct benefit, but aren't. In today's challenging retail landscape, you would think that retailers would be exhausting every possible avenue to improve the customer experience drive sales, but whether it's a reluctance, a lack of awareness and education, or a lack of resources to dedicate to technology, many of them don't. NewStore studied 140 luxury, lifestyle and apparel brands and gave them a collective grade of C+ on their "customer journey."
"It seems that many brands have checked the box on mobile by simply offering an optimized web experience or native app," the introduction reads. "In reality, they are only scratching the surface and are missing the potential revenue impact that mobile can deliver, especially in the context of omnichannel and enabling the customer to become the point of sale."
Read on for eight things that only a minority percentage of retailers are doing with mobile, and why more of them should be. It is worth noting that this study was put out by a mobile retail platform that stands to benefit from telling brands they should do more with mobile. But still, it has some good points.
NewStore cites a statistic from Digital Commerce 360 that consumers are three times more likely to purchase from an app than a mobile website. Part of the reason is surely that if someone takes the time to download a retailer's app, they are likely an existing/repeat customer. Still, retailers are missing out by not offering one at all for their loyal customers.
ENABLING ASSOCIATES TO CHECK INVENTORY, PRICING AND OTHER CUSTOMER QUERIES ON MOBILE
The percentage of retailers who "empower their store associates to use smartphones or tablets" is just over the halfway mark at 51 percent, but only 25 percent have real-time inventory information. Not forcing associates to check a POS or stock room when customers have questions can make a big difference as many shoppers lose patience quickly (myself included — a few too many minutes of wait time and I'm rethinking my choice entirely).
SEEING WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN-STORE, ONLINE
As they're browsing online, many shoppers want to see what's available at their nearest store, but only 30 percent of brands offer that.
Yes, excessive push notifications can be annoying for phone owners, but when they're personalized and done right, they can be effective. And yet, only 3 percent of brands use them to send personalized notifications. In general, personalized customer service should be a huge priority for brands: Clienteling should exist online, too.
It seems like chatbots are one of the biggest trends in online retail given how much I read and hear about them, but only 24 percent of the brands studied have a chat function.
Another big retail buzz-phrase lately is "buy online, pick up in store" which NewStore even abbreviates to BYOPIS, lol. People love convenience and this is another way to offer it; and yet, only 18 percent do through mobile.
A lot more brands accept Apple Pay now than did a year ago, but that percentage is still only 34 percent of those studied.
Another thing retailers can apparently do is make it appear that they're never out of stock, which requires the ability to locate items at various stores, not just at its e-commerce distribution centers. Only 19 percent can do this.