Tink Taylor of dotdigital explains what retailers need to do to not only survive but also thrive in this crowded market, and why CX is key.
Today’s consumers engage with brands in many ways through many more channels than ever before, and, as a result, customer experience has now a much broader context. In fact, customer experience (CX) is no longer defined by the one-time interaction with a brand, but by the overall interactions across all touchpoints.
The recent “2019 Digital Trends” report by Adobe and Econsultancy shows that while 44 percent of marketers think the biggest challenge they face in 2019 is difficulty in getting a holistic view of customers across all interactions, 19 percent believe CX optimisation will be the most exciting opportunity. Increasingly, CX is becoming key in shaping customer’s perception towards a brand and influencing their purchasing decisions. Therefore, understanding and optimising the customer’s journey is crucial for businesses to both enhance the buying experience and stimulate long-lasting customer relationships.
Importance of customer experience optimisation
The global ecommerce landscape has become rather competitive. Hence, it’s crucial for businesses to remain ahead of the curve when it comes to capturing audience’s attention and engagement if their end goal is to not only survive but also thrive in this crowded market.
There is no denying that today’s customer is more inclined towards seamless and personalised shopping experiences. One bad experience can cost businesses to lose an existing or potential customer to a competitor. With every customer being different, highly personalised one-to-one conversations will be key to meeting customer expectations with brands.
The BRP’s 2019 Consumer Shopping Habits report shows, personalised shopping experience and easy payment options impact the purchasing decision of today’s 65 percent of the digital customers, aged between 18 to 37. With the growing number of digital communication channels such as mobile, online, email and social media, it’s fundamental for businesses to closely map customer journeys, fill in the gaps, and optimise the channels to deliver an exceptional overall buying experience.
Best practices to optimise the channels
With numerous channels of information at their fingertips, customers’ purchasing decisions are no longer influenced from a single source. The emergence of omnichannel marketing platforms has enabled customers to experience an integrated brand journey across all touchpoints during both online and in-store purchases. As the focus is gradually shifting from mass marketing towards personalised and tailor made communications, reaching out to customers at the right time and through the right channel is more critical than ever in order to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.
Companies that are aiming for success must integrate the best practices to optimise their channels, starting with rich content through quality videos and images, an eye-catching website design and user-friendly navigation features, interactive in-store experiences, smart payment options, and a mobile-friendly checkout process.
In addition, with a plethora of data currently available to companies, it’s essential that they streamline the data collection process; as this helps to leverage deep customer insights to nurture potential customer and increase sales conversions. The latest marketing technologies and data analytics tools have made it easier for businesses to collect, measure, and learn from consumers’ behavioural data, and subsequently tailor the experience according to an individual customer’s needs.
Unlocking the latest technologies and data analytics tools
The advent of advanced technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), is empowering and redefining the customer experience. With more and more retailers looking at enhancing the brand experience both online and in store, they are gradually incorporating new technologies into their platforms. As such, AR and VR are considered pivotal tools for retailers seeking to combine in-store and digital experiences.
Additionally, more brands have been collaborating with social media platforms to provide a seamless digital experience for their target consumers. According to a Boston Consulting Group research study, brands that create personalised experiences by integrating advanced digital technologies and proprietary data for customers are seeing revenue increase by 6 percent to 10 percent—two to three times faster than those that do not. This provides an immersive experience that attracts and engages consumers, where they can virtually view, place, and try products. Virtual reality also benefits retailers by providing them with greater design capabilities to virtually create and redesign store layouts.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables businesses to reach out to consumers with smarter and more personalised messages, also providing the ability to create efficient and seamless customer journeys. The future of retail customer experience lies in using AI to tap into rich behavioural data that was previously inaccessible; as revealed in CEI Research, 86 percent of customers will pay more for a better customer experience, and customers who are engaged with an experience are less likely to think about product cost. Chatbots that create personalised and predictive recommendations have also been incorporated to offer tailored communications to each individual consumer. Brands looking to optimise the customer experience and reduce costs should invest in integrating chatbots into their digital channel. In today’s digitalised world, retailers need to consider integrating technologies into marketing platforms to help streamline their operations while providing better customer experiences. Companies like Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb have transformed the service industry, giving the customer experience a whole new definition. Hence, fostering distinct brand identity and providing an experience that goes beyond just the product offering will win over modern customers.
Tink Taylor is the Founder & President of the dotdigital, an AIM listed company with offices in London, Manchester, Belarus, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, & Cape Town.
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