The world has been turned around since 2020, and many of us have firmly adopted the convenience of shopping from the comfort of the couch. But even if we’re doing more online, we haven’t entirely forgotten what we expect from an in-store experience, and the two experiences will become more similar.
That said, here are a few things we can expect to see over the next year or so.
In-Store and Online Experiences Converge
There are two sides to this, so let’s start with the online experience. We know what it feels like to enter a store that has a distinct and cohesive aesthetic. Online shopping experiences should also give customers a comprehensive experience.
Retailers will work to make sure their digital presence closely aligns with the physical one so the experience is consistent with every interaction they have with the customer.
Alternatively, the physical store experience will take even more advantage of technology developed for websites. Customers want real-time information on products and availability, online and in-store technology is evolving to meet those needs.
Increasing Customer Demands
Anyone who has ever tried to find an employee to help at a big box store knows how frustrating it can be. The same is true of a website experience when customers need help. Whether you have a live chat option or simply a contact form to submit questions, responsiveness is the difference between keeping and losing a customer.
Closely following responsiveness, is relevancy. Customers expect to receive relevant, helpful information, whether they are viewing your content, or inquiring about your product. Being able to provide customers with timely, accurate responses will set your company apart from those with slow or stock responses.
One of the most important lessons of the pandemic for both retailers and consumers is not to wait to place an order. Supply chain issues are causing delays in every product imaginable, and you not only need to have the stock to meet demands, your website also needs to be ready for seasonal traffic surges far earlier than usual.
Retailers need to anticipate these setbacks and be flexible with promotions to stay ahead of the competition.
[Related: Preparing for the Supply Chain of Tomorrow]
Data is trending in every industry, but the sheer volume can be paralyzing for brands. Being able to incorporate data collection into existing systems is the first step in battling data overload. Next, brands should focus on key data points that are crucial in identifying your customer and their purchasing behavior.
With new privacy laws and hesitancy around providing personal information, data collection can be difficult. So, collecting the right data from the start will put your company ahead of the competition when it comes to understanding your customer.
Many brands are experimenting with tiered loyalty programs, digital personalization experiences, and progressive profiling-type programs to slowly, but comprehensively build customer profiles over time.
Challenges and Opportunities
It’s a challenging world for retailers these days, especially those that have not yet embraced the full opportunities provided by digital solutions. By leveraging new technologies and keeping your customers front and center, I expect that 2022 will see significant gains as companies look to better serve their customers.
—Jason Rosenbaum, COO, Crowd Favorite