The UK customer has become an increasingly techno-savvy being, as consumer engagement continues to evolve into the digital spectrum. At a time of economic difficulty, technology has proved an essential innovation in enabling businesses to get ahead in an ever competitive marketplace.
With retail sales reaching an unexpected 10 year high in April 2014, much of the retail industry used economic turbulence to their advantage by refocusing on customer service. The Cognizant Annual Shopper Experience Study revealed that 62% of shoppers agreed tailored communication was a top priority to good service, providing offers that coincide with their preferences and favoured delivery option. With email voted as the preferred form of communication, and mobile and social media messaging deemed intrusive, the Personal Imperative angle of shopping emerged with significant value to the retail sector.
Despite the nation’s love of a bargain, with discounters such as Lidl, Aldi and Primark witnessing a large rise in profits over the last year, the UK customer undoubtedly remains a sophisticated breed. Expecting excellent customer service and a pleasurable shopping experience, the survey equally revealed that 84% of shoppers will research a product before purchasing. Making it essential to communicate with customers at an informed level, rather than focusing simply on low prices, Low-Friction Shopping is another way to ensure customer satisfaction.
Gaining an impartial view of customer behaviour can be challenging, but reducing the pinch points of store experience such as waiting time, can help deliver to customer expectations. As the survey revealed that 60% of shoppers prefer self-service options to queuing, prioritising technology investments could deliver greater business value to retailers by applying to shopper’s motivations and desires. Fashion retailer Uniqlo exemplifies this with their latest ‘Magic Mirror’ technology available in selected stores. This allows customers to try on garments in different colours without physically changing, providing an original and convenient way to shop.
The omnichannel and multi-channel aspect to customer experience equally cannot be ignored, as 44% of respondents agreed that their experience was dependent on a range of touch-points (in-store, online and social media) for forming an overall opinion. This makes delivery service essential to retailers of the new world, as 74% of shopper’s say they have used a click and collect service over the past 12 months, with 20% doing so on a regular basis.
Expecting this service to be available across various channels, phones and tablets are fast becoming the new shopping assistant. UK retailers have embraced the possibilities of the Mobile Assistant however, with features such as EAT’s smartphone loyalty app trialling an update to their stamp scheme, building a clearer idea of consumer purchases.
Retailers are embracing the possibilities of mobile and digital platforms to augment the customer journey with reality displays and social shopping platforms. EBay’s latest 3D visualisation platform can create 3D models of clothes from a handful of photographs on any mobile device, to give shoppers a better idea of how a garment might look.
By revealing these initiatives, the findings of the Cognizant Annual Shopper Experience Study has highlighted the significance of customer understanding, and its influence to retailers’ success