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The retail industry is transforming, how to adapt your customer experience strategy & win loyal customers

Seize Digital
Author: Sean Keith

Can your retail business deliver the personalized experiences your customers not only crave, but expect? Are those experiences consistent both in the store and online? If you answered no – or if you’re unsure – you’re not alone.
 
Building a better customer experience was a key focus for retailers attending Store 2019 in Toronto last month. It’s easy to see why.
 
Today’s retail environment is transforming; brick-and-mortar still matters, but the dominance of ecommerce means traditional retailers don’t just compete with other retailers anymore, they compete with technology companies. Take Amazon Go, for example – a hot topic at Store 2019. This new retail format won’t even let customers into a store unless they are a digitally connected part of the Amazon ecosystem. Connecting customers’ online and offline shopping journeys in this way creates convenient and seamless experiences. Amazon knows these factors build brand loyalty to keep customers coming back. 
 
The retailers who adapt their customer experience strategy to reflect this transforming retail landscape will win more – and more loyal – customers. In fact, that’s the only way for them to compete with the likes of Amazon Go and other tech-enabled retail giants on the horizon. 
 

The retail industry transformation: what’s changing?

By 2023, ecommerce sales (in the US) are predicted to account for 16.2% of total US sales currently growing at 14% YOY. In a recent Eagle Eye report examining digital’s impact on the consumer shopping journey, we found that 68% of American, Australian, British and Canadian consumers visited a website on their computer slightly more than a brick-and-mortar store (67%) before making a purchase. But the playing field is far from even. The majority of these digital consumers (89%) are more likely to buy products from Amazon than other ecommerce sites. Retailers need to pick up the pace of change significantly if they want to capture more online market share.
 
Despite the growth of ecommerce, brick-and-mortar continues to play a big role in consumers’ shopping journeys. Physical stores still facilitate a vast majority of sales – 90% of all U.S. sales in 2018 were completed in person. Gen Z (those born between 1995-2010) prefer malls more than previous generations – around 95% visited a physical shopping center in a three-month period in 2018, compared to millennials (75%) and Gen X (58%). This indicates that ecommerce and brick-and-mortar channels are converging like never before, opening up new opportunities for retailers to optimize their customer experience. 
 

How to adapt your customer experience strategy & win loyal customers

To compete effectively, retailers must ensure their customer experience strategies focus on omnichannel consistency and personalized promotions in both online and offline shopping environments. This requires a transition to a more data-driven and digitally-enabled approach to performance marketing. But this shift isn’t something that can happen overnight. Retailers must start now if they want to be competitive next year.
 

Create omnichannel consistency

Retailers need digitally-enabled stores, mobile-optimized websites and seamlessly functioning apps that all work together to offer customers a complementary and consistent experience. Customers who receive offers in a retailer’s app should receive the same offers on a retailer’s website and vice versa. To create these consistent interactions, retailers must centralize customer data from all their marketing touchpoints into a single location so they can identify individual customers wherever they choose to connect. This helps retailers better understand shoppers’ purchasing habits across channels, putting them in the best position to deliver a seamless and superior customer experience.

Here’s an example: a customer visits a retailer’s website and clicks on a promotion for 50% off a particular item. But the customer gets distracted and forgets to complete the purchase. The next day the retailer delivers that same customer the same promotion via its mobile app. Eventually, the customer comes into the store to redeem it. The retailer has the right technology in place to identify that customer at the till, ensuring they don’t continue to receive the same 50% discount again when they visit the retailer’s website or app.
 
Personalize promotions 
 
Personalized promotions are must-haves for retailers looking to compete with their closest rivals. Our research shows 94% of consumers say relevancy is the most important factor – beyond even cost-saving (82%) – when deciding to redeem an offer. This means knowing whether a customer needs (or would be interested in) a particular promotion or rewards is crucial. To deliver this type of personalized marketing retailers need the right technology to identify customers and collect customer data across marketing channels.
 
Another example is a customer visiting a retailer’s physical store to buy a suit. With the right incentive, the retailer identifies that customer at the register, attributing the purchase to them. In the future, the retailer sends that same customer a promotion for a matching tie on the consumer’s digital channel of choice (e.g. social media and email). The customer redeems the offer for the tie online and decides to purchase a dress shirt to complete the outfit. 
 
Deploying these types of personalized promotions, and ensuring they are consistent wherever a customer chooses to engage, are a good way to strengthen a retailer’s customer experience. These types of interactions demonstrate to customers that a business truly understands their needs, fostering deeper customer loyalty. In today’s growing, fragmented retail industry, developing and nurturing these brand-loyal customers is key to building winning stores.
 
From our discussions at Store 2019, and the Retail Marketing Conference earlier in the year, “experience” remains a core focus for Canadian retailers. To build the experience your customers expect in today’s digital world, you need the right technology to connect customer data across online and offline channels. 
 
To adapt your customer experience strategy, you have to identify the right partner to assist in what’s often a complex process. Contact us today to discuss how Eagle Eye can help your business deliver more positive customer experiences. Or to learn more about the impact of digital on the consumer shopping journey, read our recent report The Digital Imperative: Harnessing the power of 'now' with performance driven marketing.