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3 Ways to embrace agile retail and out-innovate Amazon this holiday season.

September 15, 2021 By: Elissa Quinby

Think about the last item you purchased online. 

Were you blocked from making a purchase? Unable to buy something on a brand’s website or application?

What friction points did you encounter? Were there unnecessary clicks or additional steps? Long load times?

Were you ever surprised and delighted? Did you walk away from your purchase with a smile? 

At a recent eMarketer Tech-Talk Webinar, 3 Ways to Embrace Agile Retail and Out-Innovate Amazon this Holiday, 26% of attendees said their number one priority was eliminating blocks. 30% said they were focused on addressing friction, while 44% said they were hoping to surprise and delight their customers. 

Today, I want to summarize my talk by outlining how retailers can work towards delivering a standout digital experience, from ensuring that customers convert to taking the online shopping experience to the next level. 

Eliminate blockers.

Let me begin with a quick story: I was recently heading to Napa for a wedding, and I wanted to buy a dress. Instead of digging one out of my closet, I went to a clothing rental company to look at options. But when I went to “star” dresses, I was asked to login, which meant I had to reset my password. After a while I was so frustrated, I gave up and decided to go with an old dress. 

The company could have offered numerous options to fix this: login with a social media account or Google, or perhaps sign-in as a guest option. Regardless, I’m sure that other customers left their website because of similar issues. 

Oftentimes, blockers appear because of technical errors or glitches. Website and app pages are not static, which means there are always going to be errors.

Customers show high intent to purchase when they click or tap checkout. It’s the digital equivalent of standing in line at a store waiting to check out. At this point in the checkout process, you want to ensure that there is nothing that will stop customers from completing their purchase. 

For retailers, this means developing a sure-fire method to prioritize each error. In my experience, the best approach is to 1) identify your most common errors 2) address errors quickly and 3) understand the financial impact of each error so that your team doesn’t waste time on a broken button or feature that has little to no impact on revenue.  

Reduce friction with new changes.

Once you have customers converting, it’s all about enhancing the user experience. This means reducing the number of steps to accomplish a task in a workflow, as well as ensuring that new features work as intended. 

When retailers launch new products, holiday campaigns, and other promos, errors inevitably pop up. These outlier experiences can be a recipe for disaster. 

Addressing these new challenges requires real-time visibility into the new feature. Ask your team: Is it performing as planned or is something broken? Is there a way to enhance or improve the new feature so that it generates more value for your customers? 

If your customers are negatively impacted, that’s ok! Just be sure to communicate positives and how the problem was solved. This might mean offering them free shipping or a $5 promo on their next order to encourage them to keep coming back to your website or app.

Surprise and delight customers.

After finding these customers’ pain points, retailers can turn them into UX iterations and start building a user experience that actually leaves customers walking away with a smile. 

Finding customer pain points, more importantly, can lead to awesome new products that differentiate you from your competitors.

When I was working at Amazon, they launched a feature called “Amazon Birthday Gift List.” The team noticed that people were creating Amazon wish lists for birthdays, but they didn’t have the same functionality as registries for weddings or baby showers. Once the product team noticed that people were using wish lists as if they were registries, they launched the new product. Registrants can send thank you notes with ease; gift buyers can avoid duplicate gifts. 

Now, Amazon has a cool feature that differentiates the retail giant from the pack. 

Similarly, Target noticed that deliverers and customers had higher satisfaction levels if they were paired together more than once, so they took action. Today, when customers rate a delivery 5 stars, that person becomes their preferred delivery person. Target learned this through direct feedback from customers, but they also used quantitative data to back up their anecdotal evidence. 

How you can be an agile retailer.

Being an Agile retailer is not just about moving faster. It’s about aligning teams across the organization–product, UX, development, operations, CX/support–around a common goal: the customer.

Groups are siloed, which means they are busy with their own priorities and making investments in their own technologies. UX researchers use heat maps and session replay. Developers focus on finding bugs. Marketing teams obsessed over web analytics. CX teams spend their time focused on market research. 

We know this sounds like a headache. That’s why retailers are choosing to partner with Quantum Metric, the Continuous Product Design platform. With Quantum, teams across the enterprise can gain instant visibility into the financial impact of each product decision and new feature. 

The platform enables teams to better understand their KPIS and goals so that they remain laser focused on optimizing outputs by building the right inputs. 

Insights and nuggets are hidden everywhere. Quantum Metric helps teams surface those insights by developing the following 3 habits:

Proactive discovery. Our platform automatically detects, and quantifies the business impact of, customer behaviors, intents, and struggles.

Qualified empathy. Teams can see how certain design problems, errors, or glitches are negatively impacting customers at scale. By visualizing and quantifying the customer experience, teams can be confident that they are addressing the most important errors. 

Customer-centric prioritization. Align teams faster with a single version of customer-centric truth. The most important data, after all, is not about the product itself, but how your customers interact with your product. 

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