The next normal for retailers: Prioritising omnichannel digital performance

Here is insightful advice for retailers on how they can improve the performance of their digital properties in the run-up to the peak shopping season.

The upcoming holiday shopping season presents yet another set of challenges for the retail sector.

With supply chain disruption continuing, plus shifting consumer demand, and a looming recession, the potential for things to go awry is high. However, one area that retailers can control is delivering an omnichannel experience that delights.

Ensuring that digital systems perform as expected, even during surges in demand, is the foundation for a successful shopping season.

This requires testing not only websites and apps but also in-store software and systems to understand if the experience is seamless.

To turn this vision into a reality, retailers must leverage innovative technologies to obtain the required insights, such as problems with the checkout or inaccurate inventory levels. Otherwise, they can add driving customers to competitors as another problem to worry about.

Below are a handful of ways retailers can improve the performance of their digital properties in the run-up to the peak shopping season.

Prioritise performance

Performance must trump every metric. For example, don’t fall into the trap of designing an eye-catching site that is slow to load, negatively impacting the customer experience.

Reducing page sizes, deleting irrelevant content, optimising images, auditing material from third parties and minimising text files all positively impact the speed of a website. In addition, with 75% of consumers preferring mobile for e-commerce, websites and systems must be optimised for mobile devices.

Retailers must also embrace the mindset that improving performance is a never-ending journey with no destination. For example, it’s not sufficient to only monitor performance in the run-up to the holidays; instead, companies must continuously evaluate the slew of systems and software. And by tracking key indicators such as time on site and conversions from buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), if there is a deviation from the norm, retailers can take steps to address the problem before it impacts revenue.

Marie Hattar, CMO, Keysight Technologies

Obsess about customer journeys

To optimise the experience, retailers must identify the paths that matter and generate revenue out of the millions of possible options across their software and systems. Once retailers have these insights, they can direct their efforts to optimise the experience in these areas. In addition, companies can avoid wasted time and resources associated with focusing on areas that aren’t moving the needle.

Intelligent testing

As retailers strive to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience, this has highlighted the need to test the UX to ensure consistency across every touchpoint and channel. For example, customers might browse different options on a mobile device to create a shopping list but then move to a desktop to complete detailed research before making a buying decision and potentially picking up in-store. To address these variables, retailers need to harness the power of AI-driven test automation to understand the user experience, regardless of where customers start and finish their journey and where else they go on their path to purchase.

Digital twins to emulate and optimise

Retailers are turning to digital twins to help improve the customer experience. The technology makes it easy to recreate complex interconnected physical and digital systems and software, providing retailers with a virtual model of their physical stores and software systems.

This allows them to test and emulate different variables such as store layouts, various packing options and product placement to understand the impact without having to invest the time or money required to do this physically.

Peak performance

As retailers prepare for the holiday shopping season, they need to integrate innovative technology as they strive to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience. Those that harness the intelligence will be able to understand how best to optimise their software and systems in order to thrive during this critical period.

AI-powered test automation platforms can help enable retailers optimise the omnichannel experience, through testing the end-to-end user journey across every e-commerce site, retail application, and touchpoint. Retailers can simulate virtual users at both the application user interface and network protocol levels. Performance issues are presented in an intuitive, accessible manner making it easy for retailers to course correct and deliver user experiences that drive positive business outcomes.

For retailers hoping to thrive this holiday shopping season and beyond, delivering a digital experience that delights is vital. By adopting innovative technologies, retailers can gain a competitive advantage and with the inevitable storms on the horizon, can any brand ignore the opportunity to optimise the omnichannel experience?