Consumers Want Experiences, Not Just Transactions: Retail CX Trends You Need to Know

It used to be that retailers considered the four “P’s” of marketing when pushing their wares to consumers: product, price, promotion and place. Today, however, not many brands can rely on a single “P” to differentiate, but are instead dependent on one big “E:” experience.   

While the rise of Amazon originally created a serious question about whether fast, easy, and varied e-buying would largely replace traditional brick-and-mortar retail, the last year has turned the conversation to something more complex. Amazon, Warby Parker, and other born-digital brands have increased their investment in physical stores, bowing to the undeniable fact that some experiences — or components of the experience — simply can’t happen in the digital sphere.

Our 2018 Retail CX Trends study asked consumers whether a “recent, enjoyable” shopping experience occured at a physical store, digitally, or through a combination of physical and digital.  More than half of consumers (53 percent) said it was in a store.

The research also showed an interesting trend: The younger the consumer, the more likely they are to have enjoyable retail experiences in the digital realm alone, and as a hybrid blend of digital-physical. Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to be essential touchpoints, but retailers must elevate and embed digital elements to become and stay relevant to their next-gen customers.

Our researchers wanted to know what elements of a retail interaction elevate a mere purchase to an experience. In looking at both the quantitative and qualitative data, we saw a interesting story emerge.  Coming in at No. 2 was Personalization. Part of what elevates a brand experience is making customers feel special. And while retailers are directing the large majority of resources toward digital personalization, 30 percent of respondents said personalized treatment in stores is what elevates a mere purchase to an “experience.”

Now for the top-ranked response: Product quality. At first read, this may feel anticlimactic. After all, quality doesn’t have the same sparkle as some of the other options, like multisensory elements like smell, taste, touch, or access to experts. What this rather mundane-sounding selection indicates consumers’ focus on the experience beyond the initial purchase — the enduring impression that a good, quality take-away creates long after the transaction.  Each time your customers engage with the item or service reinforces a positive or negative impression toward the brand.

The Forgotten Experience

Retailers often forget that giving feedback about an experience is actually part of the experience. They over-survey their customers with questions that they want answers to, and do so in old-school, multiple choice formats.  

Our researchers wanted to know what kind of feedback experience consumers consider the “ultimate” experience. The top pick, by far, was the ability to give ratings at 88 percent. Thanks to the ease, quickness, and increasing gamification of ratings, this was not a surprise.

The next three picks included participating in focus groups (35 percent), speaking naturally via voice assistants like Siri or Alexa (26 percent), and sharing images (25 percent).

While making feedback fun and simple is nice for customers and can produce a mountain of valuable structured data to analyze, their stated willingness to use new technologies to share more detailed, more personal data is worth noting.  In line with other topics in the study, younger consumers are more willing to engage with brands in “intelligent” conversations; a gift that brands should embrace.

To learn more about what your consumers need and want from their retail experiences, get your free copy of The 2018 Retail CX Trends Reporttoday!

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