When the recent pandemic closed stores and restricted in-store experience, many consumers didn’t stop shopping. Instead, they brought their business online.
Online sales eclipsed $815 billion in 2020, an eye-popping $244 billion or 30 percent year-over-year increase.U.S. Census Bureau
However, don’t write the obituary for in-store experiences just yet. As pandemic restrictions resolved and people resumed their day-to-day activities, many shoppers have returned to brick-and-mortar stores. As reported last year:
Data suggests consumers are finding a new balance between online and in-person shopping.”The Wall Street Journal
Simply put, the present and future of retail aren’t online or in-person. It’s both, forcing businesses to adapt to meet evolving customer expectations. Here are three ways retailers can adjust their offerings to capture market and mindshare now and in the future.
#1 Maximize Engagement and Convenience Without Compromising Security
Whether people shop online or buy in-person, they are looking for a fast, simple, secure, and convenient purchase experience.
Specifically, customers want a repeatable process. They want to be recognized and remembered to facilitate a faster checkout process, personalized offers, and customizable options.
For many retailers, checkout is the final frontier. It’s the best opportunity to maximize engagement and secure future selling opportunities. One industry survey found that:
91 percent of respondents say that a swift and friendly transaction at the cash register or a speedy one-click purchase online significantly increases the likelihood that they will become repeat customers.Building A Better Online Checkout Experience: The Key Features That Matter To Customers
This includes allowing customers to check out using their preferred purchase method, making digital wallet integration an incredible way to maximize buyer choice while speeding up the checkout process.
Additionally, buyers need the ability to quickly modify checkout information, like shipping addresses or payment card details, to adapt to their real-time needs and preferences.
At the same time, retailers can’t afford to compromise security or privacy. Whether preventing credit card fraud or guarding against return fraud, leveraging customer data to perform real-time identity verification can help lower financial losses and elevate the customer experience.
#2 Build Trust Through Customer Experience
The customer experience (CX) has become as important, or more important, than product and price regarding consumers’ purchasing decisions.
While the criteria for exceptional experiences can vary significantly, in general, customers are looking for:
- Simple Design. The customer experience needs to be appropriate to the transaction. For example, repeat buyers might appreciate a one-click purchasing option, while first-time visitors can benefit from a more immersive checkout experience.
- Ease of Use. Unnecessary friction deters customers from completing the checkout process. Even simple steps, like entering address information when auto-complete can easily supply that data, can erode the customer experience.
- Convenience. Time is a precious commodity. Everything from personalized recommendations to streamlined interactions respects customers’ time, building trust with an incredible customer experience.
JetBlue, a New York-based airline and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orlando, and San Juan, demonstrates the impact of customer-driven experiences. Recognizing that customers were frequently entering incorrect address information producing payment and communication failures, the company revamped its online experience, implementing Implementing Loqate’s Address Capture API quickly improved overall efficacy, allowing JetBlue to verify an address upfront while minimizing chances of typos and other errors during data entry.
This allowed customers to purchase quicker, decreased error rates, and ultimately increased successful bookings.
For companies and retailers in every sector, a compelling experience is the ticket building trust and earning repeat customers.
#3 Iterate to Ensure Continual Improvement
Companies that prioritize the needs of their customers are often the ones that succeed in the long run. This isn’t a one-time priority. Instead, it’s a continual commitment, requiring retailers to iterate to ensure continuous improvement (CI).
That’s why successful companies think about the needs of their customers first. They test their product offerings, buyer journey, and sales outcomes to measure and assess their real impact.
Retailers can remain relevant and impactful indefinitely by avoiding assumptions and looking for ways to optimize and adapt customer experience.
In contrast, companies that fail to iterate will fall behind. Customers are impatient and fickle with ever-evolving priorities and preferences. When offered a better retail experience, they won’t hesitate to leave and likely won’t return.
Building brand trust through customer experience is a crucial element for retailers to capture market and mindshare in the present and future of retail. With the increasing popularity of online shopping, retailers must provide a fast, simple, secure, and convenient purchase experience to maximize engagement and convenience without compromising security.
Moreover, customer experience has become equally important as product and price for consumers’ purchasing decisions, and retailers need to ensure that they provide simple design, ease of use, and convenience.
Finally, retailers must prioritize the needs of their customers and iterate to ensure continual improvement to remain relevant and impactful indefinitely. By implementing these strategies, retailers can build brand trust, increase customer loyalty, and achieve long-term success in the ever-evolving retail landscape.