89% of businesses soon expect to compete mainly on customer experience, as reported by Gartner.
Customer experience will become the main factor in which merchants compete for customers. Those with an exceptional customer experience will have the advantage.
This list of trends for customer experience will help you become one of those merchants.
Customer Experience is Top Priority
It takes more than price and quality products to set you a part from competitors. Having the lowest price or best product won’t win you the most customers.
According to a Walker Study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
This shift means that merchants with the best customer experience will have better customer retention, improve customer satisfaction, and increase cross-selling and up-selling. All of these factors can help improve your bottom line.
Companies are taking notice of this change and are adapting. Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.
Merchants who don’t adapt will fail. They won’t be able to differentiate their brand and retain customers. 67% of customers cite bad experience as a reason for churn.
Forward-thinking companies are considering trends like mobile and self-service to continually meet customer demands. See what trends you need to know about so you can adapt and flourish in an ever changing retail landscape.
6 Customer Experience Trends in 2016
As companies expect to compete mainly on customer experience, here are customer experience trends that you need to know about.
Tech-savvy customers with limited time want to be able to use self-service tools. They want to be able to search and find answers to their questions themselves.
50% of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves.
Merchants need to enable customers to find answers on their own, in their own time. This is made possible through self-service portals and customer communities.
Information about your products and services should be easy to find and valuable to the customer. It’s an important part of the customer experience. Expect more companies to make the effort to build out these types of knowledge bases and self-help communities.
Are you tired of hearing about mobile yet? Well, you shouldn’t be if you haven’t invested in it yet.
A bad mobile experience is a frustrating, disappointing experience for a customer. Mobile is an integral customer touchpoint while shopping. Devices assist with researching, buying, and in-store help.
52% of customers are less likely to engage with a company because of a bad mobile experience.
Mobile sites need to be responsive, meaning that displays are easy to navigate and use. Load time should be quick. The site should be able to be easily searched.
Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. Merchants must take the time to optimize their site for a mobile user.
In addition to site optimization, merchants also need to consider mobile apps and email marketing. Apps can be used for marketing, loyalty programs, and in-store assistance. Emails should be optimized for web to ensure better open and click-through rates.
Merchants today can’t afford to ignore mobile trends.
3. Micro Data
You’ve heard of Big Data, but have you heard of Micro Data? Micro data is a more granular approach to consumer data.
While big data considers overall consumer trends, micro data focuses on individual customer buying patterns and preferences. It gives merchants detailed data on customer behavior and purchases.
This type of micro data allows businesses to cater to consumers individually, creating a personalized experience. Knowing your customer intimately enables you to reach them with more targeted, timely, and relevant information.
Instead of a generic email blast, you can make product recommendations specific to individuals based on last purchase time frame and items. This level of detailed service turns first-time customers into repeat buyers, or loyal customers.
4. Use of Innovative Technology
Innovative technology helps you better serve your customers. Merchants are using technology such as augmented reality, drones for faster delivery, beacons for location-based services, and much more.
For example, retailers such as Ugg Australia, Uniqola, and Neiman Marcus are using “magic” or “memory” mirror technologies, using RFID tags, which allow customers to try on virtual outfits in different colors and styles.
Other retailers are using touch screens and iPads to help customers interact with staff in-store as a way to order drinks, ask for help, read reviews, or see inventory levels.
Despite how far out some of these ideas seem, merchants are using digital technology to serve online customers all the way to in-store.
5. Intelligent Marketing Re-Targeting
As customers bounce around between buying options, re-targeting is integral to your business. It helps you convert more visitors eventually into buyers. You stay top-of-mind with your customers.
However, re-targeting with irrelevant and poorly time content can be annoying to your customers. Merchants are going to have to be more intelligent about their re-targeting initiatives.
They should focus on aligning campaigns to visitor intent and specific behavior. If you know why someone came to your site, you can guide them better to a purchase with a more relevant incentive.
First-time buyers might need a discount such as free shipping. Returning buyers may need to be shown more ads more frequently.
Merchants will be striving to leverage advanced user-experience technology to evaluate and micro-monitor on-page visitor behavior, so they can personalize based on an individual’s mindset and intent.
6. Seamless Experience Across Channels and Devices
The main strategy of merchants today is to a create a seamless customer experience across all customer touchpoints, regardless of channel or device.
Customers expect a consistent experience no matter where they shop with you. They need the same information and visibility, whether it’s online on your website or app in your physical store.
Customers want options like buy online and pick-up instore, buy online and return in-store, or have an in-store associate ship an out-of-stock item to their home. They expect expedited shipping, free shipping, and accurate tracking updates.
(Many of these capabilities are made possible through tight supply chain integration.)
This type of exceptional customer experience makes the shopping experience between online and offline seamless. Merchants that can provide it will have the competitive advantage in the market.
These are the types of experiences that merchants are striving to create.
What You Can Do Today
Many of these trends can seem like a tall order for merchants. It takes investment and strategy to truly create an exceptional experience for your customers from beginning to end.
So, what can you do today to start improving?
You can start thinking about how to integrate your retail systems. Many of these customer experience trends rely on inventory, order, customer, item, and shipping/tracking data to be automated and accessed easily across your organization.
Quality product information enables your site to be searchable. It ensures product listings are consistent across sales channels. Inventory levels have to be updated in real-time to give accurate stock levels for online customers and in-store associates. Supply chain integration allows you to offer options like buy online and pick-up in-store.
These types of capabilities are made possible through integration of your eCommerce, POS, marketplaces, ERP, and logistic systems. It empowers you to create a seamless multichannel environment so you can better serve your customers.