It’s been a busy few months for home retailers with consumers driving peak trading periods across the likes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But with 2016 right round the corner, retailers should be taking key learnings from these now-annual events and strategising on how to best manage their channels to create the best experience possible for customers next year.

In 2016 everything points to connectedness, convenience and service – all of which a good retailer knows in their bones. As such, retailers need to ensure they are addressing three key areas:

  1. Be Visible on the Right Channels – using the appropriate digital tools will help make retailers the first choice for customers. Black Friday 2015 was a real example where consumers clearly chose online channels over instore.

  2. Simplify the Customer Journey – making the user journey as simple as possible to navigate and complete, from the in-store experience, to mobile, tablet, and website.

  3. Ensure a Fair and Efficient Returns and Complaint Resolution Process – so as to protect the brand’s reputation with the increase in social sharing.

In the home retail industry there will always be products customers will want to see and interact with before they commit to a purchase and, as such, the multichannel capabilities of the home goods market are currently fairly low in comparison to other categories. But there is scope to make improvements and technology will play a significant part in bridging the on and offline worlds for a better customer experience.

Next year the technology we expect to see take prominence include:

  1. Beacons – Useful for tracking the customer’s journey around the shop, identifying any pain points which prevent a sale, or alerting retailers when customers arrive, beacons can provide invaluable insights of consumer behaviour. They are also a handy tool when retailers are unable to display their full range of products in store. By placing beacons on products, the customer can bring up the whole range of product information and variations to improve their purchasing decisions.

  2. Clienteling Apps – By informing retailers of consumers’ purchase history and the potential for cross and up selling, as well as when purchases take place, staff can provide a personalised experience to loyal customers.

  3. Click and Collect – Enhancing the pick-up experience by encouraging retailers to think about the lay out of their store for when customers pick up goods provides an opportunity for customers to find other items of interest and for the retailer to up sell products.

2016 poses an exciting time for retailers, with the evolution of technologies enabling them to provide an optimum customer experience. However in order to provide the experience consumers desire, retailers need to focus in on their needs and apply those technologies that best match their circumstances, making their shopping experience more personalised, efficient and synchronised, allowing customers to shop between the different channels as they please.

Iain Devine is Commercial Director at global digital commerce consultancy Salmon, overseeing its marketing, strategic business partnerships and sales. He also contributes to Salmon’s overall business strategy and develops new offerings to both existing and new clients.