The pandemic has dramatically altered how the retail industry operates. For example, McKinsey reported that deliveries increased as much in two months as they had in the previous 10 years.
For retailers, that means adapting to new tactics, such as contactless pickup and adjusted in-store experiences, in a matter of weeks, not years.
Essentially, retailers have been forced to throw away the map and navigate by compass to meet customers’ changing needs. Now, nearly two years after the initial onset of the pandemic, the new landscape of retail is beginning to reveal itself. (Spoiler alert: its topography is pretty different.)
Amanda Myers, Head of Product Marketing at FullStory
Lea Howland, Product Evangelist at Optimizely
Stephanie Bannos, VP, Global Head of CX Strategic Solutions at Rightpoint
Here’s a summary of the seven guideposts they’ve offered for retail pros in the new normal.
Access the full recording of the webinar here: Unlocking human behaviors in retail.
1. Acquisition and retention beat win-back strategies
At Rightpoint, a digital agency, Stephanie Bannos’ team encourages clients to think about re-engaging customers before they’re lost—rather than winning them back. The payoff is far lower for win-back strategies than it is for acquisition and retention strategies, she says.
What’s the best way to do this? By establishing a culture of experimentation and creating an efficient cycle of turning insights into actions.
Stephanie also suggests that if you’re having trouble seeing results from your site experiments, you might have an audience/strategy mismatch, and can try switching up how you define customer segments.
Overall, the panel’s recommendation is to work toward an experimentation cycle that’s an always-on part of your digital experience strategy.
2. Every customer touchpoint should be conversion-ready
There’s a well-documented idiom—dating back before social media—that a prospective customer needs an average of seven encounters with your brand before they’ll make a purchase. It’s still true, but today, each encounter must also offer the opportunity to purchase.
The increase in online shopping—and specifically mobile shopping, which now accounts for 73% of online purchases—has caused many ecommerce pros to focus on each customer touchpoint. Where social media ads were once viewed as brief stops along the omnichannel purchase journey, they’re now a key driver of online sales.
For ecommerce brands, this means that every point in the omnichannel experience should be conversion-ready—whether it’s a product page on your website or the link in your Instagram bio.
3. Customer feedback loops should be holistic and instantaneous
Your customers’ shopping needs move quickly. While gathering customer feedback through interviews and surveys is still an important piece of understanding a digital journey, you need a faster, hands-free way to collect customer data as well.
This is where a Digital Experience Intelligence tool revolutionizes your customer feedback process. The best way to create a customer feedback cycle that’s both speedy and holistic is by gathering quantitative experience metrics alongside powerful, qualitative contextual detail. This creates a continuous feedback loop for improving the digital experience.
For more about what shoppers are looking for, download our State of Digital Shopping report.
4. Balance DX basics with more sophisticated elements
A good digital ecommerce experience is user-friendly, free of bugs, and allows your customer to view products and make purchases seamlessly. Those are the basics.
A great digital experience has mastered each of the basic elements and incorporates additional, more sophisticated digital experience elements.
For example, a retailer might have a functional, easy-to-use site experience, with no bells and whistles. Another very similar retailer might have all of those basic elements, with the addition of a chatbot that provides customer experience instantaneously. According to the presenters, if presented with these two options, a shopper is likely to choose the retailer that offers the chat option because they know that will be a better experience if they need support for their order.
Create a frictionless ecommerce experience with the power of Digital Experience Intelligence.
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5. Your competitors aren’t your only competition
Your customers are becoming more and more digitally savvy—and more and more able to quickly recognize a subpar online experience.
Accordingly, in your customers’ eyes, your brand’s digital experience is actually competing with the last great digital experience they had, whether that’s a bank, coffee shop, or clothing store. When it comes to digital experiences, comparing apples and oranges actually works.
If a shopper has an excellent experience with a specialty online shoe retailer, and then a dreadful experience with a specialty online sunglasses retailer, the shopper can and will compare the two. As digital experiences progress, customers are becoming more adept at recognizing—and seeking out—excellent ones in their online shopping.
6. The in-store experience has some catching up to do
The pandemic has had major ramifications for online and in-store shopping experiences.
Specifically, in-store customers expect retail associates to be able to do anything that the customer can do on the website—from viewing past orders to seeing customer support communications.
Where a POS system was once all a retail associate needed, they now need an interface that surfaces a customers’ entire interaction history to best serve them in-store.
7. Customers are the real winners
Despite the chaos, there’s a happy ending. Ultimately, the changes in the retail industry are benefiting customers in productive ways.
Offering an excellent digital customer experience has been a best practice for as long as ecommerce has existed, and now it’s becoming a competitive requirement. Retailers are striving to become more customer-centric, to be more thoughtful about the ideal customer journey, and to encourage customer empathy among their teams—ultimately making customers’ lives easier and creating more delightful online shopping experiences.