Customers need reassurance.
The latest Retail Customer Experience report, Retail Future Trends 2015, highlights how both consumers and retailers are feeling about trends in retailing. The trends covered include everything from the fall of the shopping mall to the confusion around bitcoins.
The survey results from consumers highlighted what customers are really seeking. Want to appeal to consumers in retail? If there’s one thing consumers seem to be looking for, it’s reassurance.
Most shoppers (86%) said that a retailer having an online presence is “important,” “very important” or “critical.” 63% also answered they had downloaded a retailer’s app on to their smartphone.
Product research ranked highest for why consumers use retailer web site and apps.
I find this compelling. Retailers often use their digital experiences as an extension of their direct mail approach. Instead of touting how a visitor could find more information on their products, they tout sales and tuck the research part behind most everything else. This finding shows customers are looking for reassurance before either buying online OR in the store.
As store layouts have become bigger in many cases and staff not able to keep up with product knowledge in every category, shoppers seek answers on their own via these vehicles. Are retailers really focusing on how to provide additional information for customers when and how they need it? This type of valuable, contextual help for customers might be the reassurance they need to make a purchase.
Consider the opportunities this might present for retailers.
1. Using either digital signage or old-fashioned price tags, why not encourage customers in-store to learn more via the app or online, especially around those products which are searched the most?
2. Digital analytics, like which products are searched the most, could also guide staff training for big retailers. Maybe the staff can’t know everything about everything, but they can know about which products are most likely to cause hesitation.
3. Knowing certain products cause this hesitation, reassure customers both online and in-store about return policies.
4. Showcase how products can be used. Using the app and digital presence to provide how-to videos and customer reviews could be the reassurance they need in the moment.
5. In-store kiosks are also likely to be used by customers to research products. The number one use for kiosks, however, is in-store navigation, meaning customers can’t find what they need. The interactive kiosks provide an opportunity to streamline the process by providing where the product can be found along with product research in the moment the customer wants them.
Loyalty: “What’s in it for me?”
Meanwhile, more than 80% of the survey respondents said retailer loyalty programs influence where they shop. This is another type of reassurance for customers. Will I be rewarded for my behavior? Starbucks ranked well above others in terms of being a “great loyalty program.” This is interesting because Starbucks was late to the loyalty game, but spent time understanding their customers wants and needs. By listening and creating a loyalty program based on their customers, they have gained massive loyalty.
Retailers could gain loyalty from customers by focusing on their needs and reassuring them along the way. What trends do you see impacting the retail customer experience in 2015?