If there was an award for Buzzword of the Year, Digital Transformation would obliterate the competition. It may be overused, but digital transformation is a very real strategy that is changing the customer experience for retailers.
Simply put, achieving digital transformation allows retailers to combine the physical and digital customer experience into one seamless occurrence. According to a Walker study, 85% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as key brand differentiators. This stat alone should be enough to have retailers doubling down on their digital strategies. However, implementing digital change is something that many retailers struggle with, mainly because a lot of companies don’t know where to begin.
To be fair, technology has traditionally moved faster than most other industries, including retail. Because a lot of businesses find themselves playing catch-up, it’s important to take a prescriptive approach to evaluating just how well your company delivers on customer experience. Not only is it important to understand what your customers want, it is equally important to understand how they want to get there.
Here are three areas to consider when evaluating your customer experience:
Are Your Experiences Disconnected Across Channels?
Studies have shown that 55% of shoppers say their experiences are different when walking into a store versus buying online. If you take pride in your sales associates’ ability to help determine what the needs and wants of a shopper are while in-store, do you offer the same experience online? A whopping 65% of consumers conduct online research before they even set foot in a store. That raises the question: are you doing enough to demonstrate your customer service online? The use of chatbots and AI in retail is growing at a rapid pace to help retailers ace predictive sales. Amazon and Netflix have raised the bar in using past purchasing behavior to predict what you should buy next. If your sales associates are trained to recommend a certain cut of jeans based on a body shape and past purchases, then your online shopping experience should as well.
How Does Your Checkout Experience Rate?
Abandonment costs in e-Commerce have always been a problem. Historically, companies have served up solutions through retargeting and follow up emails, reminding the buyer to go back and make their purchase. Sure, there are probably a small few that got interrupted mid-transaction and need the reminder. However, a larger number of those items aren’t purchased because of hoops that buyers are required to jump through before buying, or alternately, a tech issue with the web site. Ask yourself: how fast is your site loading? Are you charging too much for shipping? Is your checkout process too complex? All of these factors can attribute to sales abandonment. You may want and even need to gather more information on the buyer to make more informed decisions in other areas of the business, but first determine what sales you are putting at risk when forcing buyers to fill out extensive profiles before checkout.
Does The Experience End At The Sale?
Ummm, it better not. However, there is one thing that could be worse — hitting your new customer with a flood of emails and offers that aren’t relevant or personalized. Personalization goes beyond making sure their name is correct in an email. It’s making sure that residents in Arizona aren’t sent ads for snowsuits. If 63% of shoppers say they feel like retailers don’t know them, you need to take the time to personalize the follow up. That gesture alone will put you ahead of the competition. Your customer experience should be built to not only convert the first sale, but to also scale that new customer into a returning, loyal customer. Anyone can send a coupon code or a flash holiday sale email, but it’s not enough. Instead, think about how you can delight your customers in such a way that they feel like you thought of them with the next particular promotion.
The above are just a few small examples of how to dig into your customer experience more closely. Too many companies (large and small) look at digital transactions as a checklist of things to complete in order to purchase. Just remember, it’s a real experience with real customers that have real emotions. Strategize accordingly, friends.
Robert (Bob) Wallace, Partner and EVP Marketing at Tallwave, a design and innovation company that helps brands transform, design, build and grow new products and services oversees the company branding, thought leadership and communications programs. He is a regular contributor to Forbes as well as Entrepreneur and Tech Co.