Customer experience in the new age of shopping

The past few months have transformed the traditional idea of the shopping experience, with unprecedented levels of uncertainty and strict new guidelines forcing retailers to evolve rapidly.

In this new age of shopping, customer experience (CX) will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, according to digital eCommerce solutions specialist, Kooomo, which says that retailers must do all they can to remain competitive at this time and re-focus their efforts on how best to serve customers.

New research from analyst house, Forrester found that CX transformation increased customer retention and greater cross-sell opportunities and a recent SuperOffice report found that 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for an optimal CX, highlighting the value in providing a frictionless experience across each touchpoint.

Ciaran Bollard, CEO of Kooomo says, “There is undoubtedly a tough journey up ahead for many retailers, but a light at the end of the tunnel for those willing to get creative and invest in their customers. As the dust settles and consumers become more accustomed to the new way of doing things, it has never been more imperative for retailers to invest wisely in the right tools and techniques to provide a frictionless CX and, ultimately, generate sales.”

In light of this, Kooomo outlines the following tips for retailers looking to create the optimal CX:

1. Invest in a seamless omnichannel experience

The first step for retailers in removing friction from the customer journey is to embrace omnichannel solutions. In its 2020 report, PWC found that the number of organisations investing in the omnichannel experience has increased from 20% to more than 80% over the past year, highlighting the surging demand for a seamless CX. Not only do omnichannel solutions give customers the option to purchase items at their own leisure across various channels, but also enable better communication between a consumer and retailer, helping brands to ensure their messaging is clear and consistent across each stage of the customer journey.

2. Create your own AI chatbot

Nowadays, with the physical world being replaced by the virtual, the desire for businesses to be available 24/7 is even greater than before. This is demonstrated by research from Inc. that found approximately 51% of consumers feel businesses must be available and engaged at all times. This is where AI chatbots come into their own, adding both a personal and convenient element to online assistance.

Chatbots live on hosts’ websites, utilise the latest in AI technology to answer consumers’ questions in a matter of seconds, saving time and providing users with greater autonomy. By investing in solutions that enable swift, efficient and autonomous responses, retailers enable customers to guide their own journey, removing yet another layer of friction from the CX.

3. Provide a personalised experience

Personalisation is arguably the most sought-after element in the shopping experience. By capturing consumers’ data and leveraging this for actionable insight, retailers can automatically generate purchasing suggestions and tailor their services to meet the individual needs of every user. To put it simply, personalisation technologies enable retailers to deliver the right experience to the right customer at the right time, whether they are in-store or online.

Another critical dimension to personalisation is the virtual showroom. High definition, 3D images, augmented reality, and virtual reality environments enable customers to trial and experiment with items from the comfort of their own homes – a critical breakthrough in this new era of safety. Ultimately, to both overcome the limitations of COVID-19 and ease the CX, retailers must focus on unique and personalised experiences to suit the needs of every customer.

4. Handle data transparently and securely

Another key element to consider when forming the optimal CX is security. Now more than ever, consumers are overtly aware of the possible security risks when entering the digital landscape. Retailers must, therefore, ensure they handle the personal data required for creating that personalised experience appropriately, abiding by data protection regulations such as GDPR to ensure extra layers of security. Organisations must also ensure they are transparent with how and why they are using consumers’ data. Trust between a consumer and retailer is a critical brand differentiator and will inevitably lead to greater customer retention.

Bollard concludes, “As digitalisation accelerates across the globe and many retailers move more of their services online, the seamless CX is of paramount importance. While it may take some initial investment and adaptation of existing processes, the immense return on investment when removing friction from the customer journey outweighs the initial costs. At this critical time of recovery, it is retailers who embrace omnichannel solutions, communicate effectively with consumers and personalise the shopping experience that will spearhead this sector’s recovery. The above tips will create a strong foundation for any retailer to not only survive but also thrive throughout the challenging times ahead.”

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