Over the last decade, consumers have demanded more choice — and retailers are delivering through the scaling power of online commerce. Yet choice begets complexity, and shoppers are feeling the frustration of unanswered questions and lackluster experiences. In an era where price, choice and product are no longer enough to differentiate, retailers must focus on two intangible qualities that inform consumers’ shopping decisions: an emotional connection and effortless commerce.
Inspiring An Emotional Connection Through Mutual Values
Shoppers today care about the entire brand experience, from discovery and purchase through to delivery and beyond. The most admired brands establish an emotional connection by clearly communicating their values and demonstrating a point of view on the world. When customers feel that a brand resonates with their personality and values, they’re more likely to be loyal, repeat customers. Younger generations in particular care about buying from brands that are giving back. Those under 30 years old are 28% more likely to become a repeat customer with a brand that affiliates itself with a cause.
Retailers are beginning to integrate experiences into their loyalty and membership programs to create emotional connections with their customers. Sephora’s Beauty Insider program offers a chance to win a free makeover, a personalized experience that leaves shoppers feeling happy and connected to the brand. Similarly, Kate Spade customers can add personalized monograms to clothing and accessories, creating an emotional connection through unique, customized products.
Making Shopping Fun And Effortless
Amazon has set the standard for making shopping as convenient as possible with its utilitarian experience. Whether buying a product through one-click purchase, asking Alexa to make a purchase on Amazon Echo, or bulk ordering using a Dash Button, customers know Amazon takes the effort out of shopping.
Customers have come to expect the same seamless experience from their favorite brands. Effortless commerce is no longer a luxury, but an expectation, as customers flock toward brands that have made their lives easier. For instance, retailers are taking the first step toward effortless commerce by meeting customers where they are to make the shopping journey as seamless and convenient as possible. Leading brands offer in-store pickup, customized delivery windows or delivery at a specific drop off location such as a local Starbucks.
For a fully effortless and engaging experience, consider Warby Parker. The brand’s customers know the shopping for affordable, high-quality glasses will be easy before, during and after the purchase. The brand ships customers multiple pairs online to try on at home. Once the glasses arrive, customers choose the pair they like and Warby Parker mails them a fresh pair at no extra cost.
When shoppers have questions, Warby ensure their voice is heard. Its #WarbyVision campaign uses video to interact with consumers who have questions or comments in fun and down-to-earth ways. By instilling the mindset that every customer counts, it begins to build trust and ultimately loyalty. From free shipping, at-home try-ons and customer-centric service on the channels customers use most, Warby Parker ensures that finding the perfect pair of glasses is effortless and tuned into individuals’ needs.
By voicing strong, community-oriented values and making shopping fun and easy, brands will build lifelong connections with customers. This evolving formula for customer loyalty is poised to drive the retention, engagement and revenue that brands rely on for continued growth and innovation.
Amit Sharma is the founder and CEO of Narvar, a premium post-purchase experience platform. He has more than 15 years of experience across supply chain, information technology and business analytics. As an executive at Apple and Walmart, Sharma led the way in shaping the post-purchase experience. He received his BS in electronics engineering and MBA from Duke University.