Why the future of retail depends on the customer experience
Today’s digitally savvy customers expect more from retailers. The ‘traditional’ shopping experience – visiting a physical store and purchasing an item in stock – is no longer enough to satisfy the needs of consumers. To differentiate from competitors, it is time for retailers to offer a personalized and data-driven customer experience.
97% of Canadian retailers agree improving the in-store experience is important to their business.
The good news is that customers and retailers agree that customer experiences are driving loyalty and growth. Consider that, in a recent American Express Canada survey, 97 per cent of Canadian retailers said that improving the in-store experience is important to their business. Or, that according to Yankee Group, 96 per cent of customers prefer to shop at stores that offer free wireless internet.
Taking these results a step further, Canadian retailers whose sales increased in the past year overwhelmingly attributed their growth to a focus on delivering better customer experiences. Perhaps that’s why retailers such as Holt Renfrew are doubling-down and investing in physical and online experiences that delight customers.
93% of consumers say companies fail to exceed their expectations.
So, to quote the title of this post, why does the future of retail depend on the customer experience? Well, it comes back to those pesky expectations I mentioned. They are higher than ever before – so high, in fact, that 93 per cent of consumers say companies fail to exceed them (American Express). In short, today’s consumers expect what they want when they want it, how they want it, and where they want it. If you can’t accommodate and offer anytime, anywhere delivery (or an in-store solution that allows customers to order and receive out-of-stock products within 24 hours) … you likely just lost their business.
To deliver better customer experiences, most retailers are examining which technologies are required to give them an advantage. With Wi-Fi now table stakes, the focus has turned to how video, automation, and data analytics can come together to create a personalized, seamless shopping experience. These are absolutely where retailers need to go if they want to thrive in the digital economy, but there’s one more technology that can’t be ignored (and too often is).