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Utilizing Technology to Reduce Pain Points

Sure, novelty robots are cool, but if your customer experience is broken, putting an army of them in stores to attract shoppers is a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. There is no doubt that innovative technologies (such as robotics) are changing the rules of retail however the value of service and a seamless customer experience remain constant. Here are two examples of retailers using technology to reduce pain points and to elevate customer engagement.

What’s Old is New Again: M. Gemi Returns by Text

Improvements in AI have led to the infiltration of customer service ‘bots’ on a wide scale but as it turns out, some of the best applications of technology involve leveraging it to make it easier to connect to real people.  Luxury Italian shoe brand M. Gemi gives customers the opportunity to initiate product returns via text message. When we put them to the test, not only were we able to begin the returns process with ease, we also received information on current availability in other products and, when it turned out our size wasn’t available, we were seamlessly added to a waitlist and reassured that the ‘first order’ promo code could be applied to a future order when our shoe of choice came back in stock. Behind the scenes, technology was driving multiple aspects of the interaction but the customer facing aspects of the process made it seem like magic (as leading technology should).

Technology for Community Building: Sephora Customer Chat

Recent studies have shown that consumers trust user-generated content and recommendations as much as endorsements from friends and family. This mindset shift creates opportunities for retailers to add value and engagement throughout the entire customer journey and Sephora’s ‘Live Community Chat’ does just that. This platform enables customers to communicate with each other in real-time for product recommendations and general inquiries. By redirecting a percentage of customer inquiries to their community of loyalists, Sephora frees up time for their employees to focus on more complicated customer issues.  Brands who take advantage of advancements in technology to successfully foster a sense of community will continue to resonate with consumers in today’s ever-changing retail environment. It is surprising that though this feature has been operational for over a year, it has yet to be replicated throughout the industry.

It’s easy to get distracted by all the cool technology that’s hitting the market, but bells and whistles won’t save a sinking ship. Instead, stay focused on delivering a frictionless customer experience and all of the ways innovations in technology can help you do just that.

By Alyson Fischer


McMillanDoolittle is a premier international retail consultancy bringing deep experience with world class clients. Our partners have extensive experience interpreting the retail marketplace and converting insights into successful strategies. We help clients develop innovative solutions in strategy development, the customer experience, new concepts, brand performance, retail performance improvement and retail intelligence services.

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