How Can Retailers Keep Up With Customers?
Today, more than ever, brands have the power to control and develop meaningful relationships with their customers. Through digital interactions, brands are directly engaging with them, improving the shopping experience and gaining valuable data at every point along the purchase journey.
According to statistics, global e-commerce sales reached around $2 trillion in 2017 and are expected to double by 2021. Although online shopping is more convenient, brick & mortar will always have its place in the retail world. As we’ve shown in our previous article about offline retail, customers are still looking for social interactions, they want to touch & feel the products or to experience the fit firsthand. All these behaviors are much better achieved through an in-store experience.
While for B&M it is easier to create customer experiences, the online retail has more gaps to pass. Since the latter has become extremely competitive, the biggest challenge for retailers is to keep up with the latest trends, continue boosting the clients’ sales and stay ahead of the competition.
Connecting bricks & clicks
Consumers’ shopping habits have changed drastically in the last years. According to an Oracle study, customers want to have more multichannel experiences. They have low attention spans, browse products on their phones while in stores and use peer online recommendations before making a purchase. This shift in the retail landscape presents an opportunity for big brands to improve the overall shopping journey.
Starbucks, for example, understood how important it is to connect the in-store with the online worlds and provided a rewarding customer experience that builds loyalty. Through their app, customers can scan their phones to buy a coffee in store and earn virtual points.
All good, but this is not the only point that retailers need to take into account to make customers stay in touch. Studies suggest that an aesthetic design choice may actually be the way your customers decide to make a purchase or not. Because online consumers do not always engage deliberative processes, but rather rely on intuition, simple changes such as page layouts and fonts, images and colors may be more critical when it comes to customer trust. Look at the mindsets with which customers approach the website and engage online, and learn to bring the best of the real-world into the online one.
Sometimes, retailers need to find innovative ways to enhance customer experience and they do that by gamifying the shopping process. Take as an example, IKEA. The brand used augmented reality to let customers preview how furniture looks on their smartphones before buying it. This way, they created a seamless experience that helps customers drive loyalty and increases online sales.
Also, the big advantage that online retail has, is that it can create frictionless experiences. Since the customer effort in B&M is higher due to physical & time effort spent in the whole journey, in the online world, the effort is cognitive (are you getting annoyed after three attempts to add multiple products in your online cart?). Understanding the customers’ pain points across all channels and levels and solving them, could be the trigger that solidifies your clients’ decisions to buy more from you.
Finally, it’s all about putting your customers first. Do your research and find out more about your clients, look at their behaviors, mindsets, reactions and show them relevant information, at the right time and in the right way. It's difficult to accomplish this, but that's what every brand needs to achieve.
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