LOS ANGELES— E-commerce spawned m-commerce but now v-commerce is emerging to change the retail landscape once again. Lamps Plus is getting in on the next wave in virtual retail by signing on with Linc Global to provide its customers with instant tracking via voice digital channels.
The immediate goal is to strengthen the retailer’s relationship with shoppers, but Lamps Plus, like many of its rivals, recognizes that the voice, or conversational, engagement with shoppers represent a challenge for retailers as they cope with still another means consumers will use to interact with them.
Still, the challenge could represent significant opportunity for retailers who involve themselves quickly. Voice tracking may be among the earliest steps Lamps Plus takes in conversational interaction with customers, but it can help the retailer and its customers build a mobile relationship, where it can simplify interactions.
Angela Hsu, the retailer’s svp/Internet business and marketing, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® that Lamps Plus has a focus on innovation and recognized the Linc artificial intelligence platform that is powering the instant tracking as an advanced method, “to improve our customer communication. Customers are able in real time to track their order status through SMS text, Facebook Messenger or Amazon Alexa.”
Although building customer relationships is critical, the voice interactive system has other advantages. It not only makes sense in the customer service context, Hsu noted, but also operationally.
“Through reducing customer service call volume, we can create cost efficiencies on our end while improving overall customer satisfaction through their post purchase journey,” she said.
The initiative with Linc advances the evolution of the Lamps Plus digital commerce business, Hsu pointed out.
“Our priority is ‘mobile first’ in website design, speed and marketing. Almost half our online orders come from customers’ mobile devices. As more shoppers use multiple devices to shop with us, we will leverage cross device and multi-touch attribution technologies to better personalize the customer’s journey and to optimize our marketing spending,” she said.
More than ever before, technology can establish completely new contexts under which retailers can satisfy customers. In that way, customer service can evolve into customer experience.
“We have a firm belief that technology is not only important but necessary for our company to provide the best customer experience,” Hsu said. “We are always exploring new approaches to optimize the customer’s journey. Utilizing AI in various marketing and site initiatives is on our road map in the coming years.”
Lamps Plus is integrating new technologies into its shopping experience to ensure it can meet emerging consumer expectations. The company already provides mobile customers with the ability to upload room photos and add products to the online images.
“We’re continuing to develop this technology to help users on their purchase journey,” Hsu said.
As it advances its technology-driven initiatives, Lamps Plus is looking at personalization as a
“From providing content that focuses on their needs to personalized product assortments that reflect their personal preferences, these features are extremely powerful,” Hsu said. “We anticipate that this will reduce the steps it will take users to find product while also validating them at each step of the process. Making the product shopping experience more relevant to each individual user should improve overall site conversion.”
Although many consumers associate Lamps Plus with online retail, Hsu said the retailer is evaluating digital technology it has under development for application in its stores. The company developed the latest Lamp Plus store format, which opened recently in Austin, TX, to link employees trained to engage customers with technology they can use to access the online inventory. That way, store employees can introduce shoppers to the full range of products and services Lamps Plus carries. In-store employees, in that case, address consumer needs more effectively than they could based only on what’s available at the location.
On the operational side, Lamps Plus anticipates changing dynamics in product inventory and customer delivery.
“The time is not far off when product personalization can be previewed in real time in store and in a 3D space,” Hsu said. “Imagine that lamp you like, but wish it were in a green with a different lamp shade. Through technologies such as VR, you’ll be able to preview that lamp in that color and have it custom built for you.”
However, no matter who, or with what, consumers converse, the overriding Lamps Plus concern is to ensure that shoppers can access technology in ways that suit them, removing shopping pain points and helping customers make more satisfactory decisions.
“Our site is optimized for less friction, faster speed and better personalization. Through technology, we can provide more accurate and faster information for customers to make a purchase decision. This includes asking questions and having answers provided from Lamps Plus experts,” Hsu said.