Consumers Changing Commerce: What Shoppers Demand

(1st of 3-part series)

Merchants on the move to meet customer demand
Meeting, exceeding and keeping up with customer demand in commerce today is no easy task.  What are the most common challenges they face in creating common experiences that keep consumers coming back for more? This first installment explores the demands of customers related to the shopping experience.

The rules of commerce are different than they’ve ever been before. The explosion of mobile devices has armed shoppers with always-on connectivity, price discovery at the touch of a button, and more communication channels than ever. Shoppers are coming to expect highly personalized experiences with their privacy kept in check. And converting browsers into buyers requires a consistent shopping experience across all channels, whether online or off.  It’s becoming omni-channel retailing in the extreme.

Managing the needs and expectations of customers can seem overwhelming. Many POS systems and terminals are out of date and simply can’t provide the experience that consumers crave. Too often the brick-and-mortar experience is not connected to the online experience, creating inconsistency across shopping channels. Customer loyalty programs may be antiquated, difficult to manage, or simply non-existent. This is where beefing your digital commerce layer can help your business get the most out of each and every interaction.

This enhanced digital layer is something that can help you own your moment at every point of customer interaction. What does that mean? It means that your commerce software can become a more meaningful extension of your business that houses, manages, and supplies vital customer information during the interaction. It can help you identify your customer by name and help them form a deeper personal bond with your employees. It can notify you when your customer shows tremendous loyalty with immediate offers and discounts. It can also create shopping experiences that keep customers coming back for more, no matter how they choose to shop.

What Shoppers Demand

Expectation #1: The ability to interact with your business anytime

Today’s consumers are more connected than ever before and expect you to be, too. Merchants need to engage customers wherever they are – in-store, online, and on their mobile devices. Eighty-eight percent of shoppers regularly research items online and then purchase them in-store.1  Nine out of ten shoppers who engage with retailers via social media channels say those interactions have an impact on their purchasing choices.2  Overall, consumers want flexibility in their interactions with retailers.  In fact, 86 percent expect brands to offer multiple options to connect through online chat, email, and over the phone.3

Expectation #2: A more personalized shopping experience

Nearly one-third of consumers want more personalization in their shopping experiences.3 Personalization encompasses both online and in-store marketing including website, email, and merchandising onsite. As ecommerce sales continue to grow, your website is as important as your best salesperson. Shoppers don’t have time to sift through all the information available on the web, so the more personalized experience you can offer, the better.

Expectation #3: A consistent experience across channels

Whether your customers come into your store, visit your website, access your mobile app, or receive a mail order catalogue, email or text message, they expect the inventory and offers to be consistent. Seventy-two percent of consumers value consistency in the products available across brick-and-mortar and online stores, and 69 percent value consistency in customer service.2

Expectation #4: Self-service and in-store help simultaneously

Many shoppers are happy to help themselves. Fifty-nine percent of consumers discover new products via personal research,2 and 57 percent of smartphone users visit a retailer’s site or app on their device while shopping in that retailer’s store.  Still, a majority of shoppers (71 percent) expect sales associates to know product information.  The pay-off is big for retailers with knowledgeable salespeople – 92 percent of shoppers who receive “very helpful” service make a purchase in-store.

Knowing what your customers expect is just one piece of the puzzle. Next, we should look at the current reality you face as a merchant and how omnicommerce can help close the gap.

References

1 Retail TouchPoints™,

http://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/e-commerce/88-of-shoppers-are-webrooming, 2014.

2 Infosys®, http://www.infosys.com/newsroom/press-releases/Documents/genome-research-report.pdf, 2014.

3 Retail TouchPoints™, http://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/special-reports/retailers-seek-innovation-in-personalization, 2014.

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