THERE’S NO QUESTION, THE RETAIL INDUSTRY IS IN A STATE OF FLUX.
With the rise of e-commerce, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to stay afloat. In 2020, physical retail space had lost 35% of its market capitalization.
Let’s pause because don’t think this means the retail customer journey is dead.
As physical stores continue to bounce back, it’s more important than ever for retailers to understand their customers and create a smooth, seamless experience for them across all channels.
Can we talk retail potential?
According to Statista’s Digital Market Outlook, online shopping revenues in the U.S. will surpass 1.3 trillion dollars by 2025.
As technology changes and consumer expectations are redefined; what we’re seeing is the customer journey evolving. As a result, many organizations and enterprises are shifting their focus from selling products to offering seamless personalized experiences.
Let’s explore what’s possible with the customer journey, challenges, and how retailers can optimize their operations to serve their customers better.
ZOOMING IN: THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY RETAIL EXPERIENCE
The customer journey in retail is not just about the buying process. It’s about understanding the customer and providing them with an elevated customer experience.
In retail, the focus is no longer on just revenue.
The focus has shifted to creating a seamless browsing and buying experience. One where customers are engaged throughout. This means taking into account all the touchpoints a customer has from the intent and researching products online to picking up those products in-store.
By focusing on the customer journey, retailers can create a more engaging and satisfying experience for their customers, which will result in increased sales and loyalty.
CHALLENGES RETAILERS FACE IN MAPPING THEIR CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Not understanding real-time customer intent – Consumers expect brands to know them personally, but this isn’t always easy to accomplish. To understand real-time intent, organizations need insight into customer actions and behaviors before purchase.
The Touchpoint Struggle Is Real – There are many channels for customers to interact with businesses, from websites and social media to phone calls and in-person visits, and it can be challenging to integrate all the data to ensure each one provides a positive personalized experience.
Customer Retention – Keeping customers tends to be more valuable than the initial costs associated with attracting new ones. One way to make sure customer lifetime value (CLTV) increases is by having excellent customer service. The customer journey is about how well relationships are maintained.
Tracking Customer Interactions across all channels – It’s not enough to just run ads, post content, or send emails. Defined analytics and KPIs are essential for keeping tabs on the customer journey in order to be agile in marketing. Retailers need to track interactions to know what’s working and what isn’t working for their customers and business profitability.
Limited Resources – Creating a customer journey map takes time and effort, but let’s call it, having the luxury of a dedicated full-time employee or team to this task isn’t always in the cards. And incomplete or inaccurate customer journey maps that don’t give a clear picture of the customer weigh on the ability to successfully execute your marketing strategy.
MAKING IMPROVEMENTS TO THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
It’s no secret organizations need to focus on the customer journey to succeed. To create a great customer experience, it takes an understanding of what customers are looking for and how they interact with your brand.
Don’t think I’m just going to just leave you in suspense on how to start making improvements.
Here are a few ways:
1. DELIVERING SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customers are now connecting with businesses in ways other than making a purchase, prompting companies to focus on providing more personalized, seamless, responsive, and consistent customer experiences. Consumers are asking for more immersive and one-of-a-kind experiences from their brands.
It is becoming increasingly important for retailers to keep their customers happy. According to HubSpot, 89% of Americans are more likely to purchase after experiencing a positive customer service experience. 63% of consumers expect companies to know their unique needs and expectations.
This can be done by
- Implementing a Loyalty Program
- A loyalty program rewards existing customers for choosing a brand over others. These programs can be as simple as a punch card or as advanced as an app that tracks purchases and sends push notifications to remind people about offers. No matter how you do it, loyalty programs provide value for both parties: organizations receive repeat customers and loyal brand ambassadors, while customers receive extra perks for doing something they love.
- Using Chatbots (👋🏾 lower opex)
- According to a report by Juniper Research, chatbot interactions in retail will reach 22 billion by 2023 (ehm, that’s next year you’ll) and will be responsible for handling 85 percent of all customer service interactions.
Retailers who use chatbots will have more successful automated consumer interactions. This allows high-quality user experiences to be delivered with minimal resources, increasing customer retention and satisfaction while lowering operating expenses.
- Customer Journey Mapping
- Customer journey mapping is a visual representation of a customer’s experiences with your brand as they interact with and move across multiple sales channels.
- It allows companies to identify key touchpoints and opportunities to improve the customer experience. It’s also an effective tool for aligning cross-functional teams around customer needs. Retailers can use it to create empathy among team members and as a bridge to better understand customer needs and goals.
2. ENHANCE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE BY IMPLEMENTING OMNICHANNEL STRATEGIES
In a report by KPMG, retailers will have to evolve to meet changing customer expectations and market dynamics. Implementing omnichannel strategies will enhance customer experiences, improve brand loyalty, and increase profits.
Companies with exceptionally strong omnichannel customer involvement saw an increase in annual revenue of 9.5% from the previous year, compared to 3.4% for businesses with a weak omnichannel strategy.
Similarly, good omnichannel organizations see an 8% drop in average cost per interaction year over year, compared to a 0.2% decline for weak omnichannel companies.
Companies with exceptionally good omnichannel engagement retain 90% of their clients, compared to 33 percent of companies with mediocre omnichannel engagement.
There are several technological solutions retailers can use to help increase the visibility of different channels and gain a competitive advantage.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (CX) SOFTWARE
CX software can help businesses track their customers’ interactions with websites or social media and identify areas where they may be struggling. Retailers can then use this information to create a more personalized experience for each customer.
CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM)
A CRM system helps businesses track their customers’ interactions with the brand and identify areas where they may be struggling. This information can then be used to create a more personalized experience for each customer.
PRODUCT INFORMATION MANAGEMENT (PIM)
With the right Product Information Management (PIM) system, organizations can ensure only accurate, high-quality product data is shared with their sales team. This allows the sales team to feel confident in their messaging. As a result, they’ll be able to make informed decisions about how to guide potential customers through their buying process.
CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)
Retailers should use a content management system (CMS) to make the website more efficient and deliver the right message just in time.
3. TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES TO PROVIDE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE
Every enterprise needs to maintain a consistent level of customer service. If employees don’t properly address customers, shoppers will quickly lose interest and move on to the next store.
Employees need to know how to provide excellent customer service — not just by answering questions quickly and efficiently but by providing superior customer care. The more customers feel like they’re being treated well, the more likely they are to return and spend again.
According to Gladys 2020 Customer Expectations Report, 84% of consumers are willing to spend more on brands that provide great experiences.
Retail companies should focus on creating a positive customer experience. This means providing excellent customer service, offering great products and services, and making sure customers are happy with their purchases. By focusing on the customer journey, organizations can create a more positive experience and improve their overall success.
A recent study found that organizations that focus on the customer journey are more likely to see a 4 to 8% increase in revenue and profits.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY FOR RETAILERS
Customer journeys have taken on a whole new meaning since the beginning of the Internet.
Today’s shoppers use digital devices to research products, compare prices, and complete purchases — all before interacting with a human employee.
Technology has evolved so rapidly that it’s easier to talk about what won’t change in the future.
For example, customers will value personalized experiences while seeking self-service solutions. They’ll still like to engage on their terms, at their own pace. And they’ll continue to expect quick answers with minimal effort.
The future of customer journeys and the role of retail employees may be difficult to predict, but we can forecast some key trends:
- The retail experience will become more seamless than ever
- Retail employees will become more efficient with AI and automation
- Storytelling will be the foundation for customer experiences
- Omnichannel technologies will create a unified experience for customers
- Retailers will embrace smart stores and products
- The lines between online and offline will blur further to be more unified
DROPPING A PIN IN RETAIL EVOLUTION
The customer journey in the retail industry is evolving, and organizations face many challenges when it comes to optimizing it. However, there are ways companies can improve the customer journey and create a more positive experience for their customers.
The future of customer journeys looks favorable in the retail industry. With new technologies emerging, organizations have more opportunities to create unique customer experiences than ever before.