Customer expectations in the retail industry have changed considerably over the last few years, especially as more consumers are considering factors other than product price and quality. They’re looking for an enjoyable shopping experience and if you can’t provide it, they’ll head to your competition or online marketplaces.

That’s why many retailers are now focusing on creating a well-developed customer experience strategy that can help them hold on to the customers they have and earn new ones. These retailers understand that satisfaction levels are higher for both customers and employees when you transform shopping into a memorable, “wow” experience instead of just swiping a credit card. They also know that they’re positioning themselves to capture market share and boost their revenues. Below are the six trends that these successful retailers are taking advantage of.

Trend 1: Successful retailers are developing a consistent customer experience strategy

Many retailers are now basing their customer experience strategy upon a methodology intended to remain consistent across your organization. They are making sure that the message is the same, no matter who a customer encounters in multiple touch points over different sectors of the company. Loyalty is driven by these conversations and how well each member of their team delivers according to customer wants and needs. Remember, your patrons need to see just one entity when they deal with your company – from sales to service to marketing.

Trend 2: Successful retailers are getting a head start on real-time retail selling

There will come a day when retailers can identify the wants and needs of their customers by mobile device when they walk in the door. Most consumers have invested time and effort researching products long before they’re ready to buy, and companies need to develop the customer experience around this notion now. You need to know that you have certain items in stock before the customer arrives – or you’ll risk disappointing them, losing business and developing a reputation for not carrying the items they need. This is part of real-time retail selling.

According to the recent survey of North American retailers by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), one of the top priorities for retailers in 2015 is real-time retail. Nearly half of the retail respondents in the BRP 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey indicated that real-time retail is among their top three priorities for 2015. You see, successful retailers are focused on expanding their real-time capabilities to deliver the enhanced services their customers now expect.

Trend 3: Successful retailers are taking advantage of multi-channel retail opportunities

Shopping habits aren’t what they used to be even a few years ago. Consumers are reviewing products online and via their mobile devices well before they head to a physical store. And many times, they place an order online if it’s easier and more convenient. Retailers must adapt their customer experience strategy to this phenomenon by offering higher service levels than what consumers can gain online. They must also present a seamless blend of all the channels that customers typically access before making a purchase.

Retailers that are taking advantage of multi-channel retail opportunities are improving customer perceptions as the retailers are being thought of as forward thinking and responsive to customers’ needs. By offering a variety of engagement points for the customer to make a purchase, increases the convenience and ease of sales, thus boosting profit And, multi-channel engagement points are providing more opportunities to gather information about customers which can be used to increase loyalty.

Trend 4: Successful retailers are getting the most out of their POS

Successful retailers are realizing that their point of sale system (POS) is so much more than a way to make change for sales and process credit cards. Mobile POS devices work well in retail environments where checkout is best handled where the customer is located within the store. For example, hair salons can process payments at the chair – including products that customers want to purchase and take home. Avoiding the queue at the checkout ranks high on the customer experience list. POS technology is also ideal for managing loyalty programs, as these solutions can track purchases that eventually lead up to an earned reward.

Trend 5: Successful retailers are using technology to supplement the customer experience, not generate it

Technology is great for automating tasks and managing inventory, but successful retailers are realizing that they can’t rely entirely on their POS or other solutions to handle the customer experience for them. : They understand that software should enhance the customer experience with tools like customer relationship management and targeted marketing. But they need to develop their technology around the customer experience rather than letting solutions direct their strategy.

Trend 6: Successful retailers are keeping the customer experience grounded in their individual needs

This two part component to improving your customer experience strategy starts with knowing what they want, and then delivering accordingly. Successful retailers are beginning to understand that there is no real trick to figuring out how to exceed customer expectations. Retailers that excel at experience-making simply talk to their clientele and ask how they can do better. Service levels, pricing, product selection and quality, promotions – all of these offer opportunities to improve the customer experience and lure prospects away from the competition.

Remember, loyalty isn’t built overnight, but a great customer experience that facilitates the route to the checkout counter will pay off. Patrons will be coming back for more when you take advantage of these trends and exceed their expectations.

These are just some of the trends we’re following and discussing in my Customer-Centric POS Experience Strategies LinkedIn group. Please share below, what other trends you’re following and taking advantage of.

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