What are the modern customer experiences expected by retail customers today and how do online customers differ from those using apps or a website? Recent analysis published in Retail Customer Experience attempted to unpick this question and create some general guidelines for retailers.
There are some fairly standard CX trends and expectations shared across most brands in retail:
- We must offer an innovative and exciting online shopping experience
- We must personalise the relationship with our customer so relevant offers and discounts can be shared at an appropriate time in a way that improves the customer relationship
- We must improve the in-store experience so it does not feel anonymous when compared to the app or online experience
- We must communicate with the customer using the channels they choose when they want to communicate
- We must do all this whilst still offering great value and not letting technology get in the way of good service
Combining all these expectations into a single unified strategy is often called omni-channel for short. Communicating on the same channels as the customer and offering a range of shopping options across multiple channels, including in-store, is the expectation. But the Retail Customer Experience analysis argues that brands need to move on, they argue that the omni-channel target has moved.
The target should not be to capture data from various customer devices and to then formulate a picture of customer behaviour as it happened. It should be possible to create a flow of data from all these customer interactions and communications and to then predict what the customer will do, or want next.
If your data analysis shows that a customer has regular shopping habits, use that knowledge to create time-limited offers focused on the times they like to go shopping. By embracing your suppliers and partners in the wider value chain it should be possible to gather enough data to know what your customer likes, when they like to shop, when they cannot accept deliveries and what they buy at different times of the year. With this information you should be able to start creating a predictive omni-channel that anticipates what the customer will want next so you can deliver it before even being asked.
What do you think about the evolution of omni-channel retail into a real-time predictive omni-channel? Is omni-channel essential for delivering a great CX? Is it realistic or are too many brands still struggling to just offer a complete omni-channel experience at present? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn.