With ecommerce more important than ever before, measuring how customers feel will become a big part of eCommerce strategy in the year ahead. Kevin Murray, managing director at Greenlight Commerce looks at why retailers must focus on customer experience to boost sales.
The British retail industry endured a difficult close to 2019 amidst political unrest and uncertain customer spending. However, in January this year, things were looking up for the retail sector as non-food retail sales increased by 1.3%.
Although this rise represents a positive start to the year, retailers need to continue to set strategic business objectives to ensure sales continue along this trajectory. With recent reports revealing that customer satisfaction in the UK is at its lowest level in five years, brands need to consider the measures they need to take to understand customer expectations, meet these needs and increase customer loyalty.
The changing digital landscape
For retailers to guarantee customer retention, decision makers must put customer experience at the forefront of their strategy. In fact, the majority (86%) of consumers are happy to pay more for a product if the brand is able to deliver an exceptional customer experience. This suggests that a negative customer experience could result in shoppers looking to competitors to meet their expectations.
Customer demands are evolving on a day-to-day basis and this is reflected in the way the retail industry is changing – online sales are increasing while in-store sales drop at a rapid rate. According to recent figures, half of the UK’s consumers are purchasing online. Brands are now narrowing the gap between online and offline customer experiences and capitulate the British public’s preferred shopping channel.
As such, sales will only continue to rise if retailers are able to meet customer expectations. Brands therefore need to ensure they have the right eCommerce platform in place to ensure a seamless customer experience across multiple channels. However, research suggests retailers are struggling with their eCommerce platform. According to a new study commissioned by Greenlight Commerce and BigCommerce, nearly all (98%) eCommerce decision makers are struggling with their digital platform.
Go back to basics
As retailers address the issues with their eCommerce offering, they must understand that rushing to implement the latest technologies and innovation to keep up with competitors is not the right approach. Instead, brands should take a step back, asses their current platform and understand that a stable and efficient digital offering starts with the basics.
Retailers who get the basics of their eCommerce platform right are in a strong position. Brands should review the features of their offering, including the customer journey and experience to understand if they are making the most of their eCommerce platform. Decision makers should question whether the current offering is helping the brand to attract customers, convert sales to leads and retain shoppers. If this is not the case, retailers need to consider moving to an alternative digital platform. Going back to basics will boost KPI performance and inform your next technology innovation to support the long-term business objectives of the company.
The study also discovered that when it comes to eCommerce troubles, 34% of respondents highlight customer experience as a challenging area. This figure suggests that retailers are struggling to keep up with changing customer demands as consumers expect a more personalised and tailored shopping experience.
So, how can brands confront the issue and ensure they meet growing customer expectations and ultimately boost customer experience?
For years, retailers have measured operational experiences – including the time customers spend on a website and their purchasing behaviours. However, retailers are yet to measure how customers feel when they are interacting with their brand. Retailers will not be able to deliver an exceptional customer experience without understanding exactly how customers feel. This is supported by the fact that 80% of CEOs believe their brand delivers an exceptional customer experience, yet only 8% of their customers agree. Clearly, there is a disparity between how well brands think they are doing and their actual performance levels.
A gap as such can result in consumers looking to other brands to deliver the experience they seek. To avoid losing customers, brands need to engage with shoppers, realise where customer satisfaction lies and where they need to tailor their approach to improve this. This way, brands will be able to meet customer expectations, increase trust and consumer loyalty and ensure shoppers continue to return to their brand time and time again.
Retailers must ensure that measuring customer sentiment and experience is a key part of their strategy. Customers expect a consistent experience however and wherever they buy, and a good experience will bring them back to the same brands. If your platform doesn’t enable you to focus on experience, then now is the time to upgrade your solution and put your customers first, before they find a competitor who does.
By Kevin Murray