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Three customer-facing tech fails to avoid

Especially as COVID-19 disrupts consumer shopping patterns, retailers must ensure they do not alienate customers with dissatisfying technology experiences.

Non-virtual loyalty offerings
We are two-thirds of the way through 2020. Statista data shows that more than 70% of the U.S. population owns a smartphone. Yet many retailers still require customers to download and print out coupons from a website or email, or carry a physical loyalty card, or hold on to printed receipts for future discounts.

There is no excuse for not having a fully digitalized CRM/loyalty program that provides customers everything they need to track and collect rewards, discounts and points from their smartphone. Stores should be equipped with barcode readers, clienteling systems, and any other hardware and software needed to verify and deliver virtual loyalty offers. Retailers should still provide the option of non-virtual loyalty fulfillment for the other 30% of their customer base who do not use smartphones.

Multiple apps
Walmart unified its previously disparate grocery and general shopping apps in March, and was right in doing so. Consumers suffer from “app fatigue,” with experts saying the average smartphone owner has as many as 60-90 apps on their device. Estimates on how many apps the typical person actually uses on a daily basis range from nine to as few as three.

Requiring consumers to download multiple apps, such as one for shopping and one for managing loyalty programs, does not make sense given this situation. Busy customers have to make a fair amount of effort just to find a single app, let alone toggle back and forth between two different apps to engage with one retailer. 

In addition, loading an app with a lot of different features and functions can provide competitive differentiation in the very crowded and competitive retail app space.

Not disclosing third-party delivery policies
As e-commerce sales have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, so has demand for fast delivery of online purchases. In an effort to quickly stand up or reinforce their supply chains to handle spikes in delivery demand, many retailers have been turning to third-party delivery platforms.

In and of itself, this arrangement makes a lot of sense. Third-party delivery platforms eliminate the need to purchase vehicles or develop complex last-mile delivery infrastructure. Some also provide installation and setup services for home entertainment, electronics and furnishings. For a retailer without capability to deliver online orders to consumers, or who needs extra support, third-party platforms are an ideal solution.

However, consumers need to be fully informed when a third-party platform is fulfilling their online purchase. They also need to know ahead of time how a delivery from a third-party platform may affect situations such as returns or service complaints. Consumers living in the “Information Age” expect no less.

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