What Exactly is a Seamless Shopping Experience?

As a retailer, you know that customers’ shopping preferences are broad. Some prefer shopping online, some prefer shopping in stores, and others prefer a combination (i.e., omnichannel). The reasons for this vary, but what matters most is delivering a seamless shopping experience regardless of preference. As leading retailers know, customers ultimately don’t care what channel they’re shopping in — just that they’re shopping with a brand and expect a certain brand experience that transcends the channel.

These preferences change for each generation, too. Baby Boomers prefer in-store shopping while Generation X prefers to research purchases online then buy in-store. Millennials vary between in-store and online shopping. While it might seem like Generation Z would prefer online only, it’s actually the reverse. Many Generation Z shoppers prefer in-store shopping as it allows them to disconnect from online; however, Gen Z is finding newer avenues for shopping that retailers need to be prepared for.

While generational shopping preferences will continue to shift, they are what they are right now, and retailers must be prepared to meet those preferences — or miss out entirely. But how are retailers supposed to meet these varying preferences in a way that makes sense — and makes them money? By focusing on providing that seamless shopping experience that customers expect. Let’s take a look at a few ways that seamless shopping experiences are becoming part of consumers’ everyday lives.

How Retailers Are Benefiting from Seamless Shopping Experiences

1. Voice-Activated Solutions

By now, most consumers are familiar with voice-activated devices like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and others. As of earlier this year, Amazon revealed that there were hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices throughout the world thanks to the technology’s ability to integrate with other devices from thousands of other brands. Google Home, while not as popular, has still sold millions upon millions of Home devices.

Once connected to a consumer’s payment information, these devices enable seamless shopping experiences at any time, from anywhere. It’s this kind of experience that all consumers can appreciate, regardless of their generation. All four major generations are still actively working and living busy lives, and the ability to tell Alexa to order something that’s needed, as it’s needed, is a significant benefit to consumers and retailers alike.

As other devices — enabled by another system or not — begin to catch up, it’ll be crucial that you consider how you can use them to create seamless shopping experiences. You don’t need to be the designer or developer of these solutions — simply an advocate for how they can help make your customers’ shopping experiences easier and more enjoyable.

2. Vehicle-Based Solutions

Consumers’ busy lives aren’t restricted to the home or office, and so it’s important to provide options where they spend a fair amount of their time every day: the car. In addition to voice-enabled solutions around the home, in-dash auto payments are another emerging payment environment that allow customers to get what they need while it’s on their mind.

Many auto brands have partnered to create opportunities for consumers to skip the card and get right to it, including Chevrolet and Shell for seamless shopping experiences when it comes to pumping gas. Brands don’t necessarily need to partner, either. Various auto sound system manufacturers are producing dash receivers that bring Apple CarPlay to virtually any vehicle that can fit the receiver.

As retailers, vehicle-based payments present a significant opportunity for you to be where your customers are virtually every day. Customers don’t always have the time to swing by a store, or remember to order something online when they get home. Consider how your organization can provide a seamless shopping experience through this channel as in-dash payments continue to grow and evolve.

3. Omni-Channel

We’ve already touched on the importance of omni-channel for different generations’ buying preferences, but this is still a strategy and opportunity with which leading retailers aren’t keeping pace. Remember, the goal of omni-channel is to satisfy customers’ preferences regardless of where a purchase initiates and where it concludes. People want to be able to buy online and pick the purchase up in-store, so make this an option.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of ease. If a busy consumer is shopping online but has to run to pick up her kids, she might as well swing by on her way home and pick up her purchase. Secure locker systems and a variety of other omni-channel options are available for retailers to provide this seamless shopping experience. The consumer is able to follow her schedule and still benefit from same-day pickup.

Omni-channel is about more than pickup options, however. It’s about the entire purchase experience. Online, in-store, phone, and mobile are just the beginning. Many home appliance manufacturers are beginning to include payment capabilities in their products, such as refrigerators — the hub of family life. CCS’ payment insights report also predicts that smart shoes will be the first endeavor into smart clothing, further connecting consumers with opportunities to order what they need, wear-ever they are.

Give Consumers the Seamless Shopping Experience They Want

At TRG, our payment solutions team has partnered with major retail brands to help them create and support seamless shopping experiences like these on a global scale. Whether you already have an omni-channel strategy in place and need support in streamlining or expanding it, or you’re looking to take the first step in creating an omni-channel experience for customers, our expert retail and payments teams can assist. Fill out the form below to talk with one of our team members today.