In a world where technology is becoming increasingly more predominant, it’s understandable that retailers would want to drive digitisation. Many are now working hard to ensure that they offer an outstanding customer experience (CX) online, however, merchants mustn’t then begin to neglect CX in their traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
A full omnichannel retail strategy is a method that helps create a seamless shopping experience for customers. To achieve an effective omnichannel approach, retailers need to provide consistent, coordinated CX across every channel through which they sell products.
The best approach for retailers is to ensure that their brick-and-mortar stores and online operations work in tandem but to achieve this, they must first understand what it means to offer a knock-out CX.
What makes an exceptional customer experience?
For a brand’s CX to stand out, retailers must go above and beyond to identify needs and offer solutions, in some cases before the customer is even aware of the requirement themselves. When businesses understand not only what their customers are doing, but also why they’re doing it, this level of insight will allow them to adapt and iterate their loyalty schemes accordingly.
There has been a shift in consumer values when it comes to shopping, with many consumers expressing an interest in reducing their carbon footprint by making environmentally-friendly purchases. The results of a recent Quantum Metric survey, reveal that over two-thirds of UK consumers intend to repair rather than purchase new items in 2022, emphasising the importance of exceptional customer service for cautious consumers.
The virtual footfall of the Covid-19 pandemic has piled on the pressure to produce amazing CX and one factor that has a huge impact on the quality of a brand’s CX is personalisation. Brands that were already delivering a high-quality personalised online CX have thrived over the past two years, particularly true to the likes of Amazon. For example, retailers who provide offers on items that have been left in baskets, or preempt the purchase of essentials based on when a customer last bought them will, in turn, illustrate commitment to both CX as well as consumer values. However, to be truly omnichannel, personalisation must also be present in physical stores too. This is where offering in-person experiences, such as appointments with a personal shopper, can help brands win over every customer.
How an omnichannel approach can drive successful loyalty schemes
Supermarkets are ahead of the rest of the retail industry when considering customer lifetime value (CLV) – the ultimate goal of customer loyalty – and the better the CX, the higher CLVs are likely to be. This is why we are seeing big-name retailers, like Marks & Spencer, attempt to be more personalised in their approach to things like their customer loyalty programme.
As the UK retail industry continues to adapt to the lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions, many retailers, particularly supermarkets, are revising their existing loyalty schemes as a way to entice customers back in store. If retailers want this to be successful, then it’s important to recognise that loyalty schemes are becoming less about gathering data for marketing purposes and more about building customer loyalty. This means it’s more important than ever for retailers to understand what influences purchase decision making.
On paper, the idea of gifting customers weekly rewards, via an app, on things they buy the most sounds like a great way to personalise CX and, in turn, raise CLVs. However, retailers need to be wary that digital-first schemes are not going to appeal to every customer. 77% of consumers in the UK are loyal to a brand even if its app is not on their phone. If a brand attempts to fix a system that in the eyes of its customers wasn’t broken, by making it digital-first, then this could lead to frustrations and complaints.
Applying an omnichannel approach to everything customer-focussed
It’s not just loyalty schemes where digital solutions are being introduced. Augmented reality (AR) technology can now help customers try on clothes virtually when shopping online and 71% of consumers have stated they would shop more often as a result of AR apps. That being said, there is still a percentage of people who this approach wouldn’t be suitable for and retailers must be careful not to forget about those who prefer to keep things traditional.
To succeed, retailers must offer a full omnichannel strategy with quality CX at the core. While some customers are going to prefer a digital-first approach, others may not have a computer to access online stores or a smartphone with which to run an app. Understanding what individual customers want and providing an experience in a way they prefer is key. The brands that provide a full omnichannel approach, alongside exceptional CX will be the ones that set themselves apart from the competition.