The future of the retail industry may not be as clear as we would like, but we have some tips and predictions to prepare all businesses for the customer-centric world we should expect in 2017.
The retail industry is quickly grasping that it isn’t enough to just engage customers. There is now a demand for customer-centric methods. Retailers have the challenge of needing to know more about their customers. The expectation is for retailers to be interactive and to offer smart services in line with their customers’ higher expectations.
It’s all about personalisation
Customers now demand relevant, real-time engagement and immediate satisfaction. They want more choice that is still relevant and tailored to them personally. Does your business run both online and in store? Combine the two and connect your customer’s experiences by offering a more personal experience. You can do this by recording all the customer’s purchases, through their email address or offering loyalty cards that people use whether they buy online or off. By going one step further and allowing the consumer to access these details, it means they can tailor their needs even further.
Supermarkets like Tesco do exactly that. By recording all customer data by their email and or loyalty card, it allows them to offer a much more detailed and personal ‘recommended for you’ option.
Customer service will still be in high demand
Shoppers appreciate and value experience over material goods. Retailers need to provide broader opportunities and ensure customers can drive additional value by accessing their data. Customers will recognise consistent brand experiences. They will then endorse them across every one of their social channels. Social networking is crucial for retail brands. Each retailer will need to learn how to build relationships on channels where they can have clear real-time customer conversations.
Brands like Innocent smoothies play the social media game extremely well. The trick is just to be human. Responding to queries with a little humour and genuine concern is much appreciated by consumers IF that is part of your brand values. Having clear brand guidelines can support how you act online and ensure a consistent experience regardless of contact method.
Any consumer desires an excellent shopping experience, and interaction with passionate and polite employees. It will prove significant for retail businesses to give support internally by endorsing their culture and values. Luxury brands such as Chanel are known for their excellent service. They do so by going above and beyond average expectations by offering little extras such as gift wrapping, free samples and general politeness. It can go a long way!
The customer is always right
Consumers of the future expect retail industry brands to use the latest technology to allow quick and safe transactions and delivery. Companies that put their data at risk are now simply unacceptable. Brands need to embrace new technologies that customers believe is a secure practice they can trust. Also, customers will become more aware of how precious their data is! Retail brands will need to work harder to think of the rewards consumers will want after parting with it.
A lot of websites now allow you to pay with PayPal, which gives customers more control over who they are sharing their data with. By paying with PayPal, consumers feel more secure about parting with their personal information as they know who has hold of it.
In the fast-moving digital age, customers will gather in communities’ online, providing support and advice to each other about brands through social media. Retailers need to take part in this, but instead of taking ownership in the conversations, they need to use it as a tool to empower customers and support them if needed.
Gone are the days of dividing customers into groups by age or gender. Every customer will have a distinct digital footprint. Retailers must move with the times and use data to recognise individuals by shared interests and preferences. 41% of customers are encouraged to spend more if they received personalised/relevant offers when entering a store or website.
In addition, customer centricity is considered the future for any retail industry business. It is crucial to understand what customers want and then give it to them to gain both satisfaction for the customer and success for your business.
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