The last two years of the pandemic, though disruptive, have also been the catalyst for retailers to innovate, accelerate, and bring forward their digital capabilities.
Retailers rose to the challenge by delivering exceptional online experiences and innovating the shopper experience, all whilst seeing unprecedented growth in sales.
2020 will go down in history as a digital renaissance for retailers, and rightly so, it was single-handedly the number one factor that accelerated retail online.
Retailers were not only tasked to move to eCommerce but also to ensure they deliver a seamless, frictionless online experience. The shift toward online shopping was seen prior to 2020, with the customer trend in digital adoption already had retailers rethinking their digital capabilities to meet customer expectations.
As we return to ‘normal’ there has been a marked customer behaviour shift, and digital has become the norm. What will be the longer-term shifts in consumer behaviours that result from this crisis? What do retailers need to do to ensure they remain relevant?
Another question and equally unknown is the shift in what customers value. Retailers now need to provide value across the whole customer journey, whilst being cognisant of the move in customer sentiment to a more value-based approach to buying. Understanding the purchase behaviour of Gen Z is starkly different to their Gen Y counterparts.
Cue CIO, Shane Lenton, perfectly encapsulated the zeitgeist of these times in his statement, “It’s a whole new world out there.”
To thrive and succeed in a ‘new world,’ retailers must make a complete commitment to delivering on customer experience – to be obsessed with their customers. Sales and discounts, though great for short-term success, are not a long-term strategy.
Taking a page out of Myer’s book, a brand on struggle street pre-pandemic has completely turned its fortunes around. With an enviable offline-to-online journey, coupled with their highly successful customer loyalty program, has seen them come back stronger than ever!
John Barkle, Head of Brand and Loyalty at MyDeal, feels that customer loyalty programs are only a segment; the end goal is customer retention. The importance is placed on how to create an end-to-end experience for the customer. “As an online marketplace, we sell the same brands. The key is the experience the customer has. It’s about creating CX loyalty and an emotional bond – if prices and brands are the same, then experience can lie in the last-mile.”
Hyper-personalisation, hyper UX is the key to bring customers back and retaining them according to Kat McMaster, Partner at Deloitte, citing that the marketplace is a great example of hyper-personalisation. Great examples as seen with brands doing it well, are the Nile, Adore Beauty, Flora & Fauna.
What’s the lesson? Customer is still king and will be more so in the ‘new normal,’ and brands that want to succeed need to start with putting customer experience at the core.
Hear from leading retailers on how they are planning for a brave new world at the Online Retailer Conference and Expo.
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