Amidst the global pandemic, the retail and logistics industry rethink customer engagement
The writer is the Enterprise Sales Lead, SEA of Twilio, Edwin Coelho.
A few weeks ago, I participated in an online executive roundtable hosted by Asia IoT Business Platform and Twilio. The two hour session gathered leaders from the retail, e-commerce and logistics industry in Indonesia, and focused on how they successfully navigated customer engagement in the midst of a global pandemic. When the world came to a standstill five months ago, every business had to quickly re-think their operations in order to sustain themselves. In the midst of lockdowns and quarantines, it was important to take steps toward keeping the light on and one of those lights was customer engagement.
During the roundtable session, Twilio highlighted how consumer behavior quickly shifted once the lockdowns occurred, so businesses had to adapt and pivot just as quickly. Those in the retail, e-commerce and logistics space also had to shift their way of doing business to meet a new demand. Despite a 16% decrease in retail spend in the Asia Pacific region, there was an 82% increase in online sales and a 248% increase in the buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) option.
In fact, 56% of consumers in Asia Pacific expressed intent to continue with BOPIS and 45% want to continue having their groceries delivered long after the pandemic is over. These numbers lead us to believe that these shifts will be permanent, hence opening up new opportunities for those in the retail/e-commerce/logistics space. Moving forward however, means that customer engagement will have to be about building trust first, not fulfilling a product or making a sale. And it will be critical for each interaction to be digital first. The future of the shopping journey and the new customer experience is forever altered.
All the participants during the roundtable agreed that the top three priorities for the new shopping journey were; safety first; evolving and accelerating their digitalization strategies; while continuing to deliver excellent customer engagement. They also agreed that having a flexible omnichannel communications strategy is imperative in order to maintain customer confidence, loyalty and trust. This means even the traditional brick and mortar stores need to come online so that they can bridge the physical experience with the digital, and ensure their customers receive an exceptional shopping experience in the new normal.
Take for example Twilio partner Galeries-Lafayette Champs Elysee, a luxury fashion retail store in Paris. They implemented several of Twilio’s platforms including, Twilio Programmable Messaging, Twilio Programmable Video and Twilio API for Whatsapp to give their employees access to additional channels that helped them successfully bring the human aspect to the center of the customer experience. Their team of over 300 personal stylists, connected digitally with customers via SMS, Whatsapp and video for face-to-face communications. The lines between e-commerce, physical stores and mobile have become so blurred now, that customers no longer make a distinction between experiences.
Moving forward, companies like Galeries-Lafayette Champs Elysee would also be able to leverage other Twilio solutions that can help ease the load on customer support agents through self-service and AI. In the next decade or so, Gartner predicts that the number of virtual assistants and chatbots will increase ten-fold, accompanied by a 70% decrease in the number of calls, chats, and email inquiries incoming to your businesses. In addition, Twilio’s unique contact center solutions help alleviate and manage many engagement touchpoints when it becomes necessary to execute on a company’s business continuity plan.
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