More than two decades after the first secure online purchase, the “bricks to clicks” revolution continues to transform the world of retail. In their forecast of the global retail market, eMarketer predicts that 8.8% of worldwide retail purchases will be digital by 2018. Does that mean physical stores are fading into irrelevance? Likely not, according to a recent A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study that indicates bricks-and-mortar locations remain the favored shopping channel despite age demographic.
Regardless of whether consumers choose physical stores or digital commerce to make their retail purchases, both are viewed as a single entity, one that is a part of the customer experience continuum. Successful retailers recognize all facets of the shopping experience—both in the real world and its virtual counterpart—are absolutely essential to driving strong customer satisfaction and building strong, long-lasting consumer relationships.
Savvy retailers today, like hhgregg and Mattress Firm, are accomplishing this with three critical approaches to boosting customer satisfaction:
- Integrating retail channels now A true omnichannel experience—one that integrates a retailer’s online, in-store, mobile or social presences—is essential to nurturing an intimate connection with customers and differentiating brands from the competition. Consumers want engagement across the physical and digital elements. Retailers have two choices in the new world of shopping: Adapt or face declining profitability.
- Leveraging new technologies to create a more seamless experience Retailers are turning to customer experience reporting solutions, voice of the customer (VoC) programs and other cutting-edge technologies to effectively manage and improve the omnichannel environment. Email surveys, website feedback tools, social media dialog and other interactions offer invaluable perspective into what customers feel about the retailer and—most importantly—why.
- Listening to customers and acting on their feedback The growth of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter alongside consumer review sites like Yelp illustrates that consumers of all ages and all backgrounds want to share their stories with the world at large. Forward-thinking retailers should listen carefully to what their customers have to say across these channels and probe even deeper into the consumer psyche, implementing social advocacy and leveraging reviews that not only give shoppers a voice but allow them to tell their stories wherever and however they feel most comfortable.
Check out our playbook, Experience is Everything: 3 Critical Ways to Boost Customer Satisfaction in an Omnichannel World, to delve into these three approaches in greater detail, along with real-world examples.