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23 Aug, 2022

What makes a great digital customer experience (and why your customers expect more from you)

Our Retail CX content series is shining a spotlight on the growing importance of customer experience strategy in retail.

Join us to take a look at the impact of the last few years on consumer behaviour and expectations, as well as the strategies and tools your business needs to stay ahead of the competition. First up, let’s examine the role of customer experience in retail and why consistency is the key to building brand love.

Whether we realise it or not, each and every interaction we make with a product or service will either add or subtract from our overall experience of a brand. Let's look at one of the most common - purchasing online groceries.

Imagine logging in to the supermarket’s website or opening their app on your device. Then, you browse their products, fill your shopping cart, make an online purchase through your online card payment system and select your delivery option (or opt-in for click and collect). On your chosen day, you either receive delivery of your order or drop into the supermarket to collect it. You unpack your items at home and notice that something is missing from your order, so you make contact via their app, online or phone to resolve the issue. Your retail business responds by apologising and providing some form of resolution (replacing the item or offering a discount).

This mundane, everyday retail customer experience contains all kinds of touchpoints, digital and in-person, that can make or break a retail experience. And at each customer journey touchpoint, negative or positive emotions could be sparked by how your business performs, meaning your customer experience journey has to be planned and executed with care. Especially as consumer expectations grow. As Bridget van Kranlingen, Senior Vice President of IBM Global Markets, has said:

“The last best experience a consumer has had, becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere.”

When you differentiate on customer experience, you’re not just setting yourself apart from the competition on price or convenience, you’re instead building and strengthening your relationship with the customer that’s built on positive emotion (even when there can be moments of friction).

And 2022 is the year of competing not on price, but on brand proposition. Shopify reinforces this as a key takeaway in its recent Future of Ecommerce 2022 research report. Now more than ever, people want to buy from brands that stand for something that align with their personal beliefs. In a climate of rising costs and uncertainty, investing in your brand’s proposition and customer experience is the key to success.

How does digital play a role in this?

The pandemic accelerated the future of retail customer experience in unprecedented ways. In the first half of 2020, the traditional model for retail success was flipped on its head. Foot traffic dropped significantly overall, while ecommerce; buy online, contactless payments, ‘in-store collection’, and home delivery saw robust gains. The events of 2020 and beyond have accelerated a shift in retail CX becoming more flexible and consistent - and consumers are embracing it. This means that in-store and online experiences can no longer be seen as independent of each other; the best brands understand that it’s all just retail now.

Channels are the language of the business, a consistent experience is the expectation of the customer.

What do the numbers tell us?

  • 73% of consumers use multiple channels to shop - Harvard Business Review
  • 87% of consumers begin their shopping journey with digital - Salesforce
  • 75% of shoppers want more human interaction in the future, not less – PwC
  • 52% of shoppers are more likely to purchase from a company with shared values - Shopify
  • 82% of consumers consult their phones while they're in a store deciding what product to buy.
  • When customers have a great experience, they’re willing to pay up to a 16% price premium - PwC
  • Voice technology adoption by retailers will grow 127% in the next year - Salesforce

So what does this mean for brands?

Retail businesses frequently battle to be recognised among many others like them. To stand out, brands need to do more than just offer the cheapest products or the widest range. The potential to save money and browse a good choice of products might initially attract customers, but with an ever-increasing number of competitors, experience can be the deciding factor between your brand and another.

Brands need to focus on customer retention and lifetime value, as uncertainty and costs continue to climb. Prepare to invest more in your customer experience, and build relationships that keep customers coming back.

If you’re interested in learning how you can drive more value from your customer experience in a way that delivers incremental growth for your brand, we’d love to chat about how we can help. Please reach out to us here.

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