More than anything else, a well-executed digital transformation should be people-oriented. We now have the tools to interact with customers in more depth than ever before, and the best way to differentiate your business is to start using those tools to understand exactly what your customers need—and how to give it to them.
Nowhere is this truer than in the retail industry. It’s no longer enough to offer products consumers want; a competitive retail business needs to offer those products in the way consumers want them.
That being the case, here are some of the top things consumers now want—and often even expect—in their shopping experience, and how a digitally mature company can deliver.
1. Digital and mobile channels
This is an obvious one: customers want the convenience and efficiency of shopping from home, without having to wait on lines or interact with anyone, and they want to be able to do so from whichever device they choose. In the current marketplace, a well-maintained and user-friendly online store is a must. Mobile channels can also be used not just for accessibility, but for loyalty and rewards programs such as those developed by Starbucks to delight customers and keep them coming back.
2. Physical storefronts
Digital shopping might be the most convenient option, but that absolutely does not mean consumers no longer want physical storefronts. Says Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces, “People like to shop and they like the serendipity of stores. Shopping is as much about entertainment and engagement as it is about utility.”
The point to be made here is that physical and digital channels are both critical pieces of a successful retail strategy, fulfilling different roles and serving different needs. The goal for retailers should be a seamless and well-integrated experience across channels in order to provide maximal touchpoints for consumer engagement. Bear in mind as well that multichannel customers are estimated to be three times as valuable as single channel customers.
3. More information
Consumers now expect easy access to not just your products, but any and all information about those products. What are the most popular products, and which ones are typically bought together? Well-organized reviews and ratings from other customers are another important feature that consumers want. There should be touchpoints both in physical and digital storefronts to provide additional details on all products, so consumers can feel that they are making informed decisions in their purchases.
More and more, consumers want their shopping experience to be personalized, and data is how you accomplish this. With proper data collection and analysis techniques, you can offer customers personalized recommendations based on their previous purchases and browsing history, comfortably walking the line between offering a wide selection and a relevant one. A personalized experience also encourages customer loyalty and provides a platform for upselling in a way that is useful and insightful rather than irritating.
Retail has always been about providing consumers both with the products they need and the products they didn’t even know they wanted. With the technology now available, this same principle should extend to the entire shopping experience. Be the company that grants its customers’ desires, and they’ll thank you by coming back again and again.