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The Evolution of Digital Retail Continues in 2021

Online retail is set to reach new heights this year

Unfortunately, the global pandemic of 2020 is now part of our everyday lives, forcing us to shift our routines, for better or worse, into a new direction. This goes hand-in-hand with how we leave the house, interact with family and friends, and the way we work. The area that has been most affected throughout last year was retail, as a massive number of consumers, both B2C and B2B, looked new ways to get their shopping done online. This in turn helped push companies to change their strategy towards a more digital-centric approach.

With 2020 now, and thankfully, behind us, the retail industry is set to continue where they left off last year and look to fully embrace the digital shift they have started into 2021. However, there are areas in which retailers must be cautious about moving forward to ensure their vision for this year is aimed in the right areas to ensure effeciency and effectiveness.

Let's take a look at where companies can focus their push towards digital centricity in 2021.

Online sales are growing

Retailers are increasingly moving online. According to a survey conducted by DataDriven, more than one third (34.3%) now sell the majority of their products and services online. Many operate a hybrid online/physical model relying on such techniques as buy online purchase in-store. Nearly two thirds (64.2%) believe that online and physical retailing are moving closer together.

The customer experience is increasingly important

Most retailers have embraced the concept of enhancing the Customer Experience (CX). The great majority of one survey's respondents are using or planning social media (79.1%), digital marketing (79.1%), and smartphone apps (68.0%) to enhance the Customer Experience (DataDriven, 2020).

A range of DX technologies are being applied. Three quarters (73.1%) have implemented or are moving towards giving customers the ability to buy online and pickup in-store. The majority are also looking at delivering real-time in-store recommendations via smart phones (77.1%).

Incorporating a strong sense of customer needs

Customer experience has always been the backbone of the shopping experience, and while customers have increasingly chosen to take their business online, they still expect to receieve an experience worth coming back to in the future. Retailers have taken note of this some time back, however the difference now is that customers are adapting to a digital-only approach to their purchases, making opportunities to provide in-person experiences few and dar between.

Through the right approach, companies can provide a unique experience for their customers through personalized landing pages with relevant information based on their needs, as well as customer support that rivals that of an in-person experience. Backstage, companies can truly untap the power of their customer's data to create relevant and impactful marketing campaigns that targets your customers with promotions and information that matters to them.

Increased need for customer support online

Speaking of customer support, visitors to online retail platforms, whether B2C or B2B, are have a level of expectation that their needs are front and center to their purchasing experience. This means they would like to have their challenges met and resolved as if they were talking to an employee face-to-face. What's more, now that there is an increasingly high number of consumers moving their business online, companies are having to deal with a larger number of customers on a daily basis than they were before the global pandemic.

To combat this, retail companies have been including and improving their digital customer support to meet the needs of those who visit their platform. Chat bots have been a hot topic for a few years now, but nothing can beat communicating with a live person on the other end of a conversation. In fact, just like IVRs of recent past, users try any combination of responses till they reach a live customer support agent, showing how important those person-to-person interactions are.

Companies have now felt more confident than ever before with including a live chat function on their platform to help customers in need. What's more, now that more and more customers have chosen to move towards online shopping, businesses have found the perfect reason to begin their venture into live customer support through live chat.

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