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Optimizing customer experience: Tips to reach customers

In 2019, consumers expect their favorite retailers to offer predictable, convenient, and enjoyable shopping experiences in-store, online and on mobile devices. Every touchpoint, regardless of whether it’s in-person or digital, should be designed with the customer in mind – which means that retail marketers need to understand how customers are accessing both their content and their inventory.

Shopping Behaviors Continue to Change

Statista predicts that by 2021, mobile will account for nearly 73 percent of all ecommerce sales, or nearly $3.5 trillion dollars. Retailers should be paying attention to those numbers, as they represent a substantial shift in behavior. Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in how consumers shop. To dig a little deeper, here are a few stats that illustrate how shoppers are using mobile today:

Shoppers are using mobile devices more than ever – and reliance on mobile is increasing. Research from a Blis-sponsored study, “Driving In-Store Traffic & Purchase through Digital Channels” shows that many retailers are trying to keep pace, with 66 percent including a digital-to-offline component as part of their customer journey, but most rate the performance of these programs as ‘adequate,’ ‘in need of improvement’ or ‘poor.’

What can marketers do to improve that journey – not just on mobile, but on other digital channels and in-store?

Using Digital to Drive In-Store Traffic

The fact is that for many retail brands, the majority of purchases still occur in-store. According to the US Dept. of Commerce stats, only 5.1 percent of retail sales were attributed to ecommerce in 2017. So, it’s wise to engage in strategies that focus heavily on driving foot traffic.

Coupons are an obvious consideration: while not new and shiny, they are a proven-effective way to drive sales and foot traffic. Shoppers love them. A recent survey showed that a whopping 92 percent of consumers use coupons and, while printed coupons are still overwhelmingly popular, 75 percent do use paperless coupons. More importantly, 82 percent of consumers will gladly switch stores based on specials, and coupons influence 86 percent of consumers to try out new products. 32 percent of consumers say they prefer to receive coupons on their mobiles, and that number is likely to grow, so retailers would be wise to incorporate coupons into their mobile strategies.

As we cited in our 2018 research, marketers should consider using location data assets to get coupons onto shoppers’ mobile handsets with tactics including retargeting, marketing automation, proximity tools like geofencing and beacon technology, targeting in-market consumers (based on behavior), or using location-based insights for real-time contextual targeting.

Retail Apps are Becoming More Popular for a Reason

Apps usage is growing in retail – 85 percent of consumers have made purchases from within an app. But while downloads are on the rise – along with the desire for mobile payment systems – retailers should take note: “Consumers will use shopping apps when they work seamlessly, offer value to consumers, and consumers are satisfied that privacy, data sharing and security are being respected,” according to a recent article in Retail Dive. In other words, if you’re going to launch an app, make sure it’s novel, easy to use and incredibly secure.

That tip underscores not only every marketer’s “customer first” credo, but also the need to ensure consistency across every marketing touchpoint. Customers expect brands to offer a similar look, feel, and level of service whether they’re engaging online or in-store. That shouldn’t deter marketers from considering apps; they represent a great opportunity to build better relationships with new and existing customers. Apps deepen the relationship, allowing for more permission-based data collection that can facilitate personalization and more tailored experiences both in and out of the store. Apps can also improve customer experience by offering easy, frictionless payment options.

With retail changing dramatically and rapidly, the times may seem turbulent. However, there is so much technology and data can do to help retailers engage effectively with shoppers. Marketers who consider carefully all the ways shoppers engage with their stores on every device have the advantage. Put the customer first, and ensure they have a great experience, no matter how they choose to shop.

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