Walk into any retailer executive boardroom and you are bound to hear the buzzword: customer experience. As technology evolves and creates ever more ways for customers to shop and engage with brands, what defines a great customer experience also evolves. Here are a few of the biggest trends shaping the future of customer experience - and some thoughts on what it all means for you.
Your customers’ (phones) are smarter than ever:
mCommerce will only continue to rise in 2016 and beyond. In the US alone, mCommerce sales last year were estimated to total more than $100 billion, and accounted for 22% of all retail eCommerce sales. According to eMarketer, US consumers bought an estimated $48 billion worth of goods and services using mobile devices in 2015, a 32% increase over the previous year. In other markets, mCommerce is even more popular. In 2015, mobile sales accounted for 46% of all retail eCommerce sales in South Korea and for over 50% of all retail eCommerce sales in China.
Retailers are all too familiar with the sight of customers checking the web for competitive prices while standing in their aisle. Instead of politely ignoring this customer behavior, why not use it as yet another opportunity to really engage with the customer, and create transparency. If the price is higher, explain why. If you are willing to match a competitive price, make sure to communicate it both in-store and online. If you don’t have a product a customer needs, perhaps it is best to help them find it, even if that means losing the sale. While this does not mean that every retailer needs their own mobile app, the discussion around the role of mobile in your marketing and CX strategy is critical.
Your customers are everywhere (and often more places than one):
For retailers, the world is increasingly borderless. Cross-border commerce is booming, expected to hit $2 trillion by 2018. One of the bigger challenges that retailers face fulfilling international orders managing the impact of fraud. While retailers must do everything they can to protect themselves from fraudulent transactions, the unfortunate reality is that too often good customers are being caught in the crossfire. Cross-border shoppers are especially likely to experience friction and are often rejected while making legitimate transactions.
Take for example, a Chinese national who is attending a U.S. university. They likely use their Chinese issued credit card to purchase items online but are placing that order from a U.S. IP and shipping to a U.S. address, typically all in different locations. It is all too common that retailers current risk operations would flag such a mismatch between the credit card country and the shipping country, having it routed to a fraud team to be further analyzed adding more time to the fulfillment process or even worse, rejected outright. With data showing that over 98% of cross-border luxury fashion purchases made with Chinese credit cards are legitimate, retailers — and especially luxury brands — should be opening their virtual doors to Chinese online shoppers, not closing them.
Consider the 675 million international tourists who arrive in Europe and the U.S. every year. Many of them are on business trips or quick weekend getaways. To save time, affluent fashion-savvy tourists may place an online order and have the package shipped to their hotel. But a high value order placed with a foreign credit card and shipping to a domestic address that has no apparent link to the buyer will likely be declined by common fraud prevention tools. Retailers simply cannot operate in the old model where customers are viewed as static.
Your customers experience your brand in the digital and physical world:
One of the more interesting trends taking place in retail is how eCommerce-first retailers are approaching the ‘old-fashioned’ retail store. Warby Parker has received plenty of attention for their willingness to embrace brick-and-mortar stores and using the in person interactions to enhance the way consumers engage with their brand, people and various products. Many other eCommerce upstarts in the fashion space have embraced the concept. Amazon recent forays into retail leave much to the imagination, Bonobos continues to invest in their “Guideshop” strategy to retail where you can try but can’t buy now with over 20 locations in the US. Boston eCommerce companies are taking a similar approach - Blank Label, Ministry of Supply and LovePop all introduced physical locations early on in their lifecycle. And while Internet Retailer of the Year, Wayfair, hasn’t made the jump into physical stores, their recent launch of an Augmented Reality app is a step closer to bridging the digital and physical world for the online furniture giant. Even traditional retailers like Rebecca Minkoff are taking a tech inspired approach to the way customers shop in stores, investing heavily in infusing new technology over inventory into their stores, creating a more interactive and personalized experience.
Every retailer should be thinking about to role of each ‘store’ experience a consumer has with their brand and working to ensure both brand consistency but also contextual relevance that distinguishing between web, mobile and in-store.
Improving customer experience isn’t brain surgery, but it often requires taking a big step back, gaining a high degree of customer empathy and taking a thoughtful approach to fixing the status quo.
Want to learn more? This year’s MITX eCommerce Summit on July 25th is focused on understanding what customers want and delivering them a seamless shopping experience. Register here to join us!
About the Author:
Andy Freedman is the CMO at Riskified, driving global market and demand strategy and strategic partnerships. He brings over a decade of branding, marketing and strategy expertise in building Riskified’s brand and marketing department. Prior to joining Riskified in 2014, Freedman served as the Vice President of Strategy and Revenue at LevelUp, leading strategic ventures and partnerships. He previously held multiple leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies, including Visa and General Mills.