The past year has seen a powerful shift in the way we live, work and interact with brands and products. Increasingly, customers are purchasing what they want via a few taps of their fingers.
Shoppers expect retailers to ‘meet them where they are’, through consistent, seamless omni-channel interactions. They are also more values-conscious, showing loyalty to brands and retailers that reflect their own values – be it sustainability, social impact, timeliness or personalised services.
The ARA and our strategic partner, Salesforce, have published an eBook that delves into the reasons why retailers are turning to such innovative solutions – including some fantastic case studies of retailers leading the way in these areas.
Why this “connected experience” matters
The surge in digital over the last year has fuelled growth in new and existing channels of engagement. Today consumers have more options than ever to engage and transact with a brand or retailer, touching an average of nine physical and digital points across each shopping journey.
Seventy six percent of customers prefer different channels depending on their context and expect consistent interactions across the departments they connect with. Millennials and GenZers are the biggest users of multiple methods of communication and multiple devices to start and finish a single transaction.
A single, cohesive, unified brand experience is more important than ever.
Successful retailers will ensure that acceleration doesn’t result in fragmentation and will deliver the consistency their customer’s demand. Each tap, click and swipe and store visit will connect their customers with a seamless, personalised experience no matter which department they are interacting with, no matter which channel they are using, no matter what stage in the journey they are at.
Meeting customers where they shop
As customers continue to embrace an omni-channel approach to interacting with the brands that matter to them, the imperative to meet the challenge of truly connected experience becomes ever more urgent. Add to that urgency a demand not only for more personalised experiences but for empathetic experiences, and retailers have their work cut out for them.
Key to succeeding is meeting customers where they are.
For today’s customers, it means jumping from platform to platform, channel to channel, device to device in the course of their journey. And for 80% of customers, that experience of interacting with a brand – whether they be browsing, viewing, chatting, comparing, buying or returning – is as important as its product or service.
Personalisation at the core
Personalisation remains critical to keeping customers successfully engaged. Fifty two percent of customers expect offers to always be personalised – up from 49% in 2019 – and GenZers are particularly expectant of customised experiences with 74% preferring personalised products or services.
The pandemic added another factor to the expectation of personalised experience: empathy. But while 68% of customers expect an empathetic connection, only 37% are getting it.
Similarly, 66% of customers want an experience that demonstrates an understanding of their particular needs but only 34% of companies are treating their customers like unique individuals.
Social and environmental responsibility become priorities
Just as the pandemic supercharged an already existing customer demand for empathy-driven, personalised experiences, so too did it accelerate an already high customer expectation for businesses to behave in more ethically responsible ways. Fifty six percent of customers have reevaluated the societal role of companies this year and 98% want to see improvements in the environmental and social practices of businesses.
Millennials and GenZers are especially values-driven when it comes to aligning themselves with brands and expect unequivocal support of social and environmental justice movements.
As sustainability across production, packaging and supply chains comes under scrutiny and more light is shined on the unethical treatment of workers, environmental and social responsibility becomes not just a moral imperative, but a business one also.