Transparency through technology: changing consumer expectations

For today’s customer, transparency is key. When faced with anything from price complexity to stock confusion, shoppers, hotel guests, café goers and restaurant lovers won’t simply accept what’s in front of them; they will research, question and – with just a few clicks – review and reveal these practices for the world to see.

Consumers have also come to expect the intuitive technology they use each day at home to be accessible during their offline retail and hospitality experiences. We’ve found that two-thirds of shoppers (69%) and nearly as many hotel guests (65%) are open to using interactive tablets and information points.

These sectors are responding to these dual requirements – but are they doing so quickly enough?

Hospitality heroes

Stock transparency is useful for both the customer and members of staff. For some time, restaurants have used technology to let waiters know which menu items are unavailable, and some are going even further; for example, orders can be made at the table via tablets at Chili’s fast food chain, ensuring speed and accuracy.

Similarly, at US salad outlet Sweetgreens, the lunchtime rush is eased by allowing customers to see what food is available and place their orders online, ahead of their arrival.

Remarkable retail

Transparency is equally important in retail, where, as you might expect, Apple leads the way. The brand’s (relatively) simple pricing structure is reflected across the in-store and online experiences it offers. ‘Genius’ assistants can check stock levels and make purchase recommendations in cleverly laid out, interactive shops.

A company that’s hot on the tech giant’s heels when innovating experiences to meet customer demand is upmarket supermarket Whole Foods. It was one of the first retailers to use smart-shelf technology to monitor inventory in real time, changing the price of products to match those offered online.

Fashion brand H&M also stands out. At its New York flagship store, screens are built into mannequins to display real-time special offers. There’s also a social media lounge, free Wi-Fi and interactive tablets, which together create a fully-connected environment.

Connected customers

Customers expect access to connected devices at all times. Already, more than half of them use their smartphones in retail spaces (53%) and hospitality venues (56%); and, in their growing demand for transparency and convenience, they also expect a store or hospitality venue’s own technology to provide them with a simpler, clearer, and more joined-up buying or ordering journey.

This puts immense strain on any communications network that’s not set up to handle a large amount of traffic; and, consequently, this threatens to damage the customer/business relationship, as connections slow down, or cut out altogether.

Industry action

The number of people using smartphones is only going to rise; as is the use of technology in improving customer experience in stores and hospitality venues.

Therefore, businesses must ensure that their network is resilient enough to support their on-location technology, as well as the increasing level of mobile activity that’s taking place.

Customers will continue to use technology to compare prices and post negative reviews; in this era of transparency, the most successful businesses will be those that adopt the right network strategy and turn these interactions into opportunities.

Vodat’s solutions let you focus on the customer experience without worrying about whether the technology behind it will perform. Read more about how modern-day pressures are threatening to overload business networks in our new miniguides for the retail and hospitality sectors.

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