TECHNOLOGY

Study: ‘Seamless shopping’ is still a pipe dream

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers know it is critical for shopping experiences to be seamless and frictionless, yet these experiences are still few and far between.

While most consumers expect the ability to shop effortlessly across channels, only 7% of retailers currently provide a complete unified commerce experience that allows a customer to “start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere,” according to the “2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey,” from Boston Retail Partners (BRP).

Knowing that consumers will often stop shopping a brand after just one bad customer moment, retailers are making big plans to converge digital and physical retail environments to facilitate a seamless experience across channels going forward. Within three years, 50% of companies plan to offer a complete unified commerce experience that allows a customer to start and finish the sale anywhere.

To help retailers prepare for this journey, BRP offers the “E5 of Customer Experience”:
1. Educate – Customers start the purchasing process by researching the brand and products, so it is critical to ensure they and the store associates have information and tools that are easy to access and use. For example, 62% of consumers check reviews/ratings before visiting a store, and 61% of retailers offer consumer product reviews for research.

2. Engage – The first step in customer engagement is to identify the customer early in the process, and offer associates the ability to leverage customer information to allow personalized interaction. Currently, 64% of consumers are fine with retailers saving purchase history and personal preferences if more personalization is offered. Meanwhile, 61% of retailers make in-store and online shopping history available to associates to tailor the customer experience.

3. Execute – To meet and exceed today’s elevated customer expectations, retailers must deliver unified commerce capabilities and empower associates with the right tools to optimize the experience. For example, 73% of consumers want the ability to track orders across all points of interaction, while 42% of retailers offer the ability to track orders across channels.

4. Enhance – Gathering feedback to understand customers’ likes and dislikes allows for a continuous improvement loop, and helps empower associates to create a desired customer experience. It is so important that 51% of consumers will stop shopping at a retailer after one-to-two poor in-store shopping trips. That said, 62% of retailers plan to improve their in-store customer experience within three years.

5. Enablers – Delivering a personalized customer experience requires the right technology and network. In fact, 68% of consumers are more likely to choose a store offering an automated returns process, and13% of retailers offer an automated returns process.

“With customer expectations continuing to rise, it is promising to see how many retailers are focused on adding new capabilities to enhance the shopping experience,” said Perry Kramer, senior VP and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners.

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