Ecommerce dominates the retail industry today as brands rely on digital channels to offer products and services to customers wherever they are. Brick-and-mortar stores still exist, but the retail customer experience largely takes place online rather than only in the confines of a physical location.
If you look at the rise of ecommerce over the last two decades, one thing remains constant: innovations in technology have allowed retailers to continuously meet the needs and expectations of consumers.
COVID-19 proved this to be true in 2020, too. Even as shutdowns occurred around the world, retailers big and small saw explosive growth in revenue. Online shopping was already the preferred way of purchasing products and services prior to the global pandemic due to its convenience, but it quickly became the only way to shop.
Retail sales may exceed $4.44 trillion in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation. Shopping centers reopened, and ecommerce continues to simplify the ability for any retailer to go digital and connect with customers. If there was ever a time to prioritize the retail customer experience, it’s right now.
Here’s why the retail customer experience is more important than ever before.
More Retailers, More Competition
Quite literally anyone can start a retail business due to ecommerce and its advancements. While that’s wonderful for consumers, it applies legitimate pressure to your brand and its ability to stand out. Now you’re competing against brick-and-mortar stores, online-only retailers, and an array of independent sellers with access to the same audience as you.
If your brand falls short of expectations, customers will move right on to other options and may never look back.
Customers also don’t face nearly as many limitations as they did in the past, either. Located in New York but interested in a product sold by a Paris-based retailer? Today, there’s virtually nothing to stop someone from purchasing the product without ever stepping foot in France. No matter where a customer is located whether that’s across the country or around the world, the entire retail industry is available at their fingertips.
So, where can you differentiate yourself? Deliver a retail customer experience that makes your brand accessible, attentive, and aware. Be prepared for customers at any time, take action to meet their needs effectively, and listen to what they say so that you can always adapt.
Ecommerce doesn’t plan on fading away, that’s for sure. In 2021, an estimated 2.14 billion people will shop online and new retailers will emerge. While you can’t serve each and every one of those consumers, you certainly attract some of them with a stellar retail customer experience and retain them into the future.
Bad Experiences Hurt Your Bottom Line
Customers will abandon your brand if they’re unhappy, resulting in a loss of revenue that may be difficult to recover — of course, this is why it’s critical to improve your first call resolution (FCR) rate.
64% of customers will stop doing business with a brand altogether after just two or three poor service interactions, according to the 2021 Customer Service Trends report. Customers just don’t have the time nor the patience to wait around and hope they earn a satisfactory resolution after multiple attempts of contacting your brand.
Retail customer experience needs to play to the expectations of a fast-paced world. As soon as a customer reaches out to your service team, an agent should be available within a few minutes. Once connected, the agent should provide an accurate and complete answer promptly. Customers find this level of immediacy non-negotiable in the retailers they choose to do business with.
Service recovery helps retain customers after a poor service interaction, but your first service interaction with a customer presents an impactful opportunity to build a long-lasting relationship. Happier customers are repeat customers, which generates a steady stream of recurring revenue.
Customers Love to Share What They Experience, Especially with Negative Reviews
Ratings and reviews influence consumers’ decisions. In a study conducted by Invesp, 86% of people said they would hesitate to purchase from a brand with negative reviews.
Retailers need to interact with customers using a knowledgeable, well-trained customer service team that knows how to communicate with an empathy-first mindset. It’ll allow you to address and resolve customer issues proactively, before a negative review surfaces online and influences other potential customers from trusting your brand.
Just put yourself in a customer’s shoes. If a product disappoints or a service interaction goes poorly, you’ll feel incredibly frustrated and want the world to know. You take to the internet and leave a negative review. Now, other consumers are going to see your review and be influenced by your experience with that retailer.
Customers should always experience your brand, its products, and the customer service team feeling valued and heard rather than angry or upset.
No brand ever achieves zero negative reviews, but designing a retail customer experience that mitigates their frequency keeps potential customers confident in choosing to shop with you.
Start Improving the Retail Customer Experience Today
Achieving success in the retail industry isn’t easy, and yet the advent of ecommerce and related technologies provide your brand with an opportunity to establish itself and build brand loyalty over time.
Stella Connect is an all-in-one solution for retailers seeking to bolster customer experience and get ahead of the competition efficiently. Birchbox, Walmart, and Williams-Sonoma are all clients in the retail industry who’ve relied on our platform to understand customers and deliver outstanding service interactions every time a customer reaches out.
Schedule a demo today to meet with a Stella Connect expert and find out how your brand can use our tools to take the retail customer experience to the next level.