It’s a fast‐paced world out there. Which, for retailers, means they need to ensure that transactions with their customers are as seamlessly convenient as possible.
In the UK, customers who shop at both Sainsbury and Tesco can now scan products in‐store using their smart phones and pay for them immediately. No more standing in line at the till point waiting for items to be rung up.
In China, fashion retailer Bestseller uses a system called WeChat Pay that uses facial recognition technology to allow customers to pay for garments automatically using their faces. Meanwhile, across the globe, automation is enabling ever quicker delivery of goods, and it’s only a matter of time before drone technology sees these remarkable small craft delivering your takeaway pizza to your door. Disruption in the retail space is now a daily occurrence, and something in particular that the Millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, and who form a key retail market, have come to expect.
Locally, companies such as Teljoy are sitting up and taking notice, revolutionising the online retail space with multiple customer touch points.
“This is particularly important as more and more customers take their shopping experiences into cyberspace,” says Melissa Signor, Teljoy’s Digital Marketing Supervisor.
One of South Africa’s oldest retailers, who turned 50 this year, Teljoy took its retail business entirely online in 2014, closing all its brick‐and‐mortar stores across the country. Today, it delivers a seamless online shopping experience via its unique rent‐to‐own model, providing customers with the latest in home electronics, appliances and furniture.
According to Signor, the company interacts with customers online in a number of ways: “On our website, for example, we have a “call me back” form which customers can fill out and one of our consultants will call back. We also have a chatbot that assists customers in real time with any questions they may have while browsing our website.”
The online journey continues into social media, via Teljoy’s Facebook and Twitter pages, where the company ensures a quick response and turnaround time is a priority.
The customer application “journey” is also streamlined, adds Signor: “Most ecommerce sites will take the customer at least three clicks, before actually get to the checkout point with the products they want to buy. First, you click on the product, then you click to add it to your cart, and then – if you’re lucky – the next click will take you to your checkout point.
“With our website, we’ve made it a direct and simple one‐click process. Select the product via the
‘apply now’ button, and go directly to the application form.”
From here, the application process is also conveniently streamlined, the first step being short, a prequalification section that collects basic information and pre‐vets customers up front in terms of either being pre-approved, referred or declined.
“If they are declined, that’s where their application journey ends,” notes Signor. “We don’t waste their time having them go through an entire application form, only to then find out that they don’t qualify.”
It’s part of Teljoy’s policy to only sign month‐to‐month contracts with customers who have a clear credit record and permanent employment, helping customers to build and maintain a good consumer ethos and credit score.
“It’s also why we always ask even existing customers to go through an application process, because a person’s credit status could change from one month to the next,” stresses Signor. “However, the time it takes an existing client to apply for a new product is greatly reduced compared to a new client to allow for convenience.”
For those customers who make it through the pre‐vetting step, the rest of the process – which involves completing the application form and uploading of documentation to verify credit worthiness, has also been made as convenient as possible: customers applying via a smartphone can even take a photo or upload pictures of documents required, and submit it through the website, instead of having to scan and upload.
“Of course, if they have their documents in a PDF form, they are very welcome to upload these the usual way,” smiles Signor. “If you prefer, you can even submit your documents to us via WhatsApp – another touchpoint through which customers can interact with us.”
Teljoy has also partnered with a company called truID, which enables applicants to automatically upload their bank statements by securely sharing their data direct from their bank..
Says Signor: “Teljoy feels it’s important to make use of cutting-edge technology such as truID in order to deliver the best customer experience.”
One of Teljoy’s requirements is that the company needs customers to provide recent bank statements. However, notes Signor: “Now, instead of our applicants having to contact and perhaps even visit their bank to get verified bank statements, you simply fill in your banking details via the application process, and truID automatically pulls and securely extracts your statement for you.
“It’s all about providing our customers with the best and easiest online experience.”