3 Important Shopper Demands & How to Meet Them

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

A simple online search inquiring about the latest developments in retail will show various results ranging from pending crises to the 2019 retail apocalypse to upcoming growth trends in the space. With such conflicting news, it may seem like retailers are either in trouble or expanding as some retailers report rapid growth while others struggle to keep their footing. So, which factors are contributing to the making or breaking of retailers today? We suggest that it boils down to retailer responses to new consumer expectations and demands.

Previously, retailers could attract customers with broader and more straight forward marketing tactics. From pretty packaging to having a shop in the right location, the tactics used brought in new clients and helped retailers keep the ones they had. With the disruption of online shopping and personalized experiences from mega-brands, consumers expectations began to shift, demanding swift action toward implementing new experiences.

Let’s briefly walk through how customer expectations have changed and some easy ways to meet the demand.

Evolving Customer Expectations

In 2019, experience is key. Today’s shoppers place high importance on the shopping experience as 64% of customers claim that “the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.” Stressing the experience further, 65% of customers have “cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience,” and 57% of customers “have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.” Mobile empowered consumers know that every brand is vying for their dollar and unlike the limited buying options of the past , they now have greater access to credit and products. So, how do consumers define a good experience?

PERSONALIZATION

Exposure to exceptional experiences from brands like American Girl, Sephora, Lululemon, Casper, Nike and others has left consumers wanting more from their favorite brands. Emulated in the stats mentioned above, consumers are not looking only for a product when they shop, but also an experience that makes them want to come back. Focusing on experiences within the online space, 40% of Millennials say that messages personalized based on their interests should be a top priority for brands. Today however, just 39% of retailers include personalized product recommendations in their emails, making this an easy win as retailers move towards more personalized interactions.

CONSISTENCY

A driving force in customer satisfaction involves the three C’s: customer-journey consistency, emotional consistency, and communication consistency. As you may have guessed, a central tenet in customer satisfaction involves consistency. Customers expect consistency in every interaction they have with your brand. Humans fear the unknown and prefer to know what they will get every time they interact, from the service to the product. Franchises are popular because of this reason. Consumers know what to expect when they go to Starbucks, whether the store is in California or Massachusetts; the lattes will taste the same. This tenet not only extends to the products you offer but how you brand yourself. Imagine spending $150 on a designer shirt to then have it tossed haphazardly into a white, unbranded, plastic bag at the register? Driving a consistent brand experience during and after the sale can help retailers improve brand loyalty and retention.

A SEAMLESS, CROSS-CHANNEL EXPERIENCE

Another top customer demand is a seamless, cross-channel experience. Citing a study in the 2018 Retail Sector Report, author Paul Skeldon emphasizes that Millennial shoppers want mobile-friendly in-store experiences. He says, “51% would love to navigate, get information and pay using their phone in-store,” while, “49% say the most loved element of the in-store experience is touching and trying things out.” Responding to consumer demand for cross-channel experiences benefits retailers since customers who buy from you in multiple channels, as opposed to just one channel, tend to spend more. But, remember that seamless cross-channel experiences don’t end at the register or shopping cart. Using personalized post-sale messages, retailers can continue to engage with their customers and increase their likelihood of coming back.

How to Meet Customer Demands

While creating personalized, consistent and seamless cross-channel experiences can seem like a heavy lift, there are three things you can do to make sure you are staying up to date with consumer expectations and keep from being a brand consumers switch from.

SUGGESTION #1: SEE IT FROM THE CUSTOMER’S PERSPECTIVE

Sometimes being so closely focused on the revenue side of the business can create blind spots for retailers in the short-term. Retailers should take a step back and walk through experiences and interactions as a consumer to see how they would feel interacting with their own brand. By taking this step, retailers can move towards a consumer-centric strategy and continuously develop better customer experiences.

SUGGESTION #2: CREATE A DATA-DRIVEN STRATEGY

While consumer trends and habits change, building a data-driven strategy will allow your business to stay up to date on the changing preferences of your consumers. These insights can range from trending products to new acquisition channels your brand may want to explore.

SUGGESTION #3: ASK

Consumers will respond. This need of consumers wanting to give their opinion has psychological roots, and by asking you can receive feedback on how you are doing, as well as insights on changes your shoppers would like to see. When seeking to gather consumer insights, remember to be on the ready to take immediate action.

The Ever-Evolving Demands of Customers

Consumer habits, behaviors and demands are ever evolving. While this can seem daunting to many retailers, turning a retail apocalypse into a retail revolution is possible when you keep the customer first. By taking the action steps above, retailers are more likely to cement their name into the landscape and be a part of the future of retail.

LET US HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR POST-SALE EXPERIENCE

flexEngage can help you better personalize your engagement with customers after the sale. Visit our PRODUCTS PAGE to learn more and take the first step.