The pandemic fundamentally changed how people shopped. Click-lists at grocery stores, more casual clothing options, and more people who want their online experience to match up with that of the in-store.
With customer loyalty shrinking and more shoppers switching between brands many merchants are looking for solutions to improve their digital customer experience in the hopes that will also build back loyalty. However, simply inserting offline experience moments into the online experience isn’t a solution for merchants wanting to improve their digital buying experience.
“Beyond the need to supplement or even replace in-person experiences with digital, brands must contend with the fact that customer loyalty is down. McKinsey reports as many as 30% to 40% of U.S. consumers have switched brands or retailers during the pandemic — a shift driven largely by the increased demand for valuable brand interactions as well as factors like product availability, quality, and purpose,” said Lynne Capozzi, CMO, Acquia. “Also, apps like Netflix have raised the bar for online experiences to a level that consumers now expect a similar level of excellence from any brand or service they interact with. Trends like this point to a heightened appetite for innovative digital experiences — and should be considered a call to action for marketers to retain and compete for customers.”
To begin building a better digital customer experience Capozzi believes brands must first understand that their job is to engage and inform – to add value – as much as it is to sell that product. Adding value is giving the customer what they want in the form of a personalized experience. Does the shopper want recommendations? A smooth checkout? Are they looking for reviews? Knowing these elements is key to engaging them and creating an experience that will make them feel valued.
To do this, merchants and brands have to invest in data – not just the collection of it but the analysis and full understanding of what each data point means.
“Companies have more access to data than ever before. At the same time, consumers have become increasingly conscious of who is using their data and for what purpose. Data privacy regulations, together with evolving consumer sentiments about privacy, have forced companies to reassess their use of consumer data, especially as it relates to marketing. As brands shift more of their experiences online, consumers have greater ability and opportunity to control their experiences based on the data they consent to sharing,” said Capozzi.
And, while the wanted experience begins with engagement it continues with the full customer journey.
“Retailers need to focus on creating and sustaining engagement with each and every customer. To successfully enhance the digital experience, brands must reimagine the customer journey and look to add value throughout the entire interaction. Investing in and deploying the right tools and technology — such as customer data platforms, digital experience platforms, and open-cloud marketing platforms — is a top priority and first step. As long as data silos persist, the ability to personalize customer experiences will suffer. This translates directly to the retailer’s bottom line. Beyond this, it’s important for retailers to ensure the experiences they provide are consistent across all platforms — including owned and non-owned channels such as social media accounts. Brands that facilitate more personalized experiences are poised to see more engagement from their customers,” said Capozzi.