Providing End-to-End Customer Experience in Retail

There’s wide­spread belief across the retail indus­try that “cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is the new brand,” and with this comes an abun­dance of excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for today’s retail­ers. Con­sumer spend­ing habits are evolv­ing and mod­ern shop­pers expect some­thing extraordinary—fully per­son­alised, user-friend­ly ser­vice across mul­ti­ple devices and touch­points. Nowa­days, a run-of-the-mill dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence just doesn’t cut it.

In many ways, we’re liv­ing through a retail gold­en age. Those who ful­ly embrace a cus­tomer-cen­tric approach, deliv­er­ing the dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal in-store expe­ri­ences that today’s con­sumers expect, are sure to get a share of the jack­pot.

Bring­ing the Ele­ments Togeth­er

What makes a tru­ly great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence? Is it a rec­om­men­da­tion? A good price? It’s all about how things work for con­sumers at every stage of their jour­ney. But tweak­ing chan­nels isn’t enough, because con­sumers don’t notice where your brand is. Instead, they take note of how you are rep­re­sent­ed.

For retail­ers, the ulti­mate dif­fer­en­tia­tor in this new world of oppor­tu­ni­ty is get­ting every ele­ment that makes a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence work­ing togeth­er. New chan­nels, new tech­nolo­gies, and rapid­ly chang­ing con­sumer habits have turned cus­tomer expe­ri­ence on its head. Meet­ing these goals while set­ting your­self apart from the com­pe­ti­tion is key.

Con­sumers today can buy what­ev­er they want, when­ev­er they want, wher­ev­er they want—and com­pet­i­tive pric­ing doesn’t always seal the deal. Under­stand­ing their needs is a must, with lit­tle room for any­thing below par. For retail­ers, stand­ing out is the key to suc­cess, and that’s where a mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence enters the fold.

Expe­ri­ence is the new prod­uct. In the past, brand­ing was a prod­uct of the mar­ket­ing team. Now cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is the brand­ing. And it includes your cus­tomers’ inter­ac­tions with your brand both before and after pur­chase. But, opti­mis­ing the expe­ri­ence on both ends isn’t enough. The typ­i­cal shop­per engages with an aver­age of 2.6 touch­points before decid­ing on a prod­uct and the brand to buy it from.

Each ele­ment of the expe­ri­ence must work holis­ti­cal­ly to guide cus­tomers to where they need to be. Con­ve­nience, speed, and val­ue are the name of the game. Ser­vice must be per­son­alised, with rec­om­men­da­tions for prod­ucts con­sumers’ want, even before they know they want them.

Man­ag­ing expec­ta­tions across chan­nels isn’t always sim­ple. Luck­i­ly, in retail, there are many places for the expe­ri­ence and ser­vice to go well, but just as many where oppor­tu­ni­ties can be missed. Yet, despite obsta­cles, retail scores high in cus­tomer expe­ri­ence com­pared to oth­er sec­tors. Deliv­er­ing the right mes­sage at the right time across mul­ti­ple touch­points is chal­leng­ing, even with tech­nol­o­gy to mea­sure behav­iour. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion must be rel­e­vant and con­sis­tent, and offers must be con­ve­nient to be mean­ing­ful.

Tech­no­log­i­cal sophis­ti­ca­tion is manda­to­ry. Per­son­alised rec­om­men­da­tions dri­ve great results, but only when you know every­thing there is to know about your cus­tomer. With­out a sin­gle view, insights can fail. Add to that cus­tomer frus­tra­tions with page load times, login require­ments, and inad­e­quate in-store tech, and you dimin­ish expe­ri­ence. In an era where every detail mat­ters, retail­ers need to be as sophis­ti­cat­ed as the tech­nol­o­gy in the user’s hand.

Dri­ving Com­pet­i­tive Advan­tage Through Expe­ri­ence

A cus­tomer-cen­tric struc­ture is key. It’s next to impos­si­ble to design an extra­or­di­nary cus­tomer expe­ri­ence with­out putting the right frame­work in place. Break­ing down organ­i­sa­tion­al silos and pro­mot­ing an open cul­ture makes it eas­i­er to fol­low a cus­tomer-cen­tric mod­el.

Ded­i­cate staff to man­ag­ing cus­tomer insight, omnichan­nel strat­e­gy, mar­ket­ing, and brand to set the stage for improv­ing and main­tain­ing expe­ri­ence at the organ­i­sa­tion­al lev­el. With the right struc­ture in place, you can design expe­ri­ences that cater to indi­vid­u­als, rather than the audi­ence as a whole.

Per­son­alised, customer-cen­tric expe­ri­ences dri­ve busi­ness results. Har­ness the expe­ri­ence as a mar­ket­ing tool and use it to dri­ve your busi­ness for­ward. Serve up a great expe­ri­ence and your cus­tomer will do your mar­ket­ing and acqui­si­tion for you, shar­ing with friends and across social chan­nels.

Improve the over­all expe­ri­ence and mit­i­gate cart aban­don­ment or poor in-store experiences—events that cost retail­ers bil­lions of pounds each year. A true cus­tomer-first mod­el can boost con­ver­sion rates and enhance cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion in the long run.

In Sum

Like it or not, brands today are com­pet­ing in cus­tomer expe­ri­ence terms. More than just how some­thing looks and feels, a great expe­ri­ence is about how things work end-to-end.

As the next Uber, Ama­zon, or Airbnb pon­ders its next move, the pres­sure will be on UK retail­ers to make sure they’re meet­ing the next wave of cus­tomer expec­ta­tions. To learn more about cus­tomer expe­ri­ence man­age­ment, and where to start allo­cat­ing funds for an expe­ri­ence-led strat­e­gy, fol­low up with the Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Man­age­ment in Retail: Insight Report 2016.

One Response to Providing End-to-End Customer Experience in Retail

  1. Grant says:

    HI Vijay,

    Hap­py Mon­day, I hope all is well.

    You spoke last year at our Dig­i­tal con­tent sum­mit and on May 23rd we have com­bined the event with our cus­tomer expe­ri­ence sum­mit.

    We’d be very inter­est­ed in you speak­ing at the sum­mit, who would be the best per­son for us to talk to Adobe for you to present?

    Grant

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