Julio Lopez, chief strategy officer and head of global retail practices at Movable Ink, writes that as retailers reinvent themselves, it will be customer-centric solutions that set successful brands apart.
Over the past year, the pace of change for retailers has accelerated, giving new meaning (and additional fuel) to the concept of digital transformation. The retail landscape and its intersection with people’s everyday lives has been reshaped – from what people buy and how much they spend, to how they shop and what shopping experiences they favor. A recent McKinsey study on consumer sentiment and behavior during the pandemic noted that 40% of U.S. consumers are increasingly aware of where they are spending their money.
E-commerce now faces a series of challenges as brands attempt to reinvent themselves to increase their brand awareness and loyalty. The change is not new. Retailers have faced a multitude of challenges over the past decade, ranging from changing consumer expectations and behaviors to technological innovations and a radically different and bifurcated competitive landscape, and they are now forced to reinvent themselves. one more time. Now more than ever, retailers are focused on building customer relationships that spark loyalty, while investing in ways to deliver unique and relevant content experiences that span both the digital and physical worlds of commerce. .
As retailers seek to overcome challenges, such as increased WISMO inquiries (âWhere’s my order?â), High return rates, and the declining price range, being able to overcome these obstacles in providing customer-centric solutions is what will distinguish successful brands.
Bumps in delivery
It’s no secret that a negative delivery experience can impact customer loyalty. As online shoppers expect to receive regular updates on their orders, failure to provide these types of notifications results in costly WISMO calls from consumers and, as a result, reduced retention rates for consumers. retailers.
At average, WISMO calls account for up to 50% of all customer service calls, and they each cost about $ 5 to resolve. This can hurt long-term brand loyalty. Delivery incidents are not easy to forgive. Even in the busiest season, consumers expect brands to be groomed, which means they won’t forgive at any other time of the year. Additionally, 32% of shoppers are more likely to blame the retailer for failed delivery during the holidays, and not the carriers.
In order for retailers to avoid a mixed delivery message, it is best to set clear expectations before purchase by displaying relevant and timely information, such as time-targeted delivery options and countdown to a deadline. particular, as well as realistic deadlines for delivery depending on the location of the customer, especially for international customers.
Additionally, retailers should proactively communicate post-purchase, including updates if a shipment is delayed, as this transparency can save the relationship with the brand; 41% of consumers who received a notification after a certain delay were more likely to repeat their purchases with the brand.
High return rates
Experts estimate the global returns market costs retailers over $ 600 billion each year. The challenge with these high return rates is that the move from offline to online means that retailers are tackling an increase in returns as customers over-order and then return what they don’t like.
While it is crucial for businesses to make the return process an easy experience, because 92% of customers who have a good experience will continue to make repeat purchases with the brand, it is more beneficial to make the customer happy right from the start. start. COVID has served as a digital bootcamp for retailers and digital shopping habits are here to stay. Digital shopping means not trying on clothes to see if they fit you, not smelling furniture materials before they arrive, not smelling odors before they are in the house, etc. As the senses are removed from the initial buying process, retailers must bridge this gap.
In order to bridge the gap between online shopping and returns, retailers can adopt technologies such as augmented reality (AR) to help customers understand how the product meets their needs. For example, Shopify found that conversion rates increased by 250% for products supported by trial technology. Retailers can leverage AR at critical conversion points such as cart navigation or abandonment to provide a deeper understanding of the product chosen by the customer. Providing customers with ârealâ information at the time of conversion, recommendations based on recent site behaviors, and even samples can have a significant impact on reverse logistics costs.
Finally, the need to turn returning customers into loyal ones must always remain a priority. If a customer decides to return an item, it is beneficial to offer the option of returning it to the store or to a third party. With 80% of buyers preferring to return items to the store, brands can make returns easy and convenient by highlighting store drop-off points in their emails, helping consumers avoid the many steps of a return by mail, and perhaps by securing a new sale in the deal.
Lower full price offers
Even before the pandemic, only 60% of fashion products were sold at full price. As retailers have routinely tricked shoppers into promotions, COVID-19 has dramatically increased this practice over the past year with a 49% increase in online rebate volume, with retailers slashing prices to offset sales. lost. However, regular discounts can actually be counterintuitive in ensuring customer loyalty, as 25% of consumers said they were less likely to shop regularly at a retailer that always has sales.
Retailers need to find other ways to reward and deliver value to their customers by encouraging premium sales. Since consumers are more likely to buy a product if they relate to the brand rather than simply seeing something at a discount, brands can use incentives such as loyalty points, samples free or exclusive content to encourage customers to make a purchase. Retailers can also increase personalization through the availability of live appointments and add to calendar reminders via push messages or in-app for style appointments, which will encourage customers to book. additional steps with the mark.
In order to get through the noise of constant promotions, retailers must also find other ways to add value to customers outside of a discount cycle. Inevitably, promotions and sales will remain a valuable sales engine, especially around major seasonal events, including Black Friday and January sales. But in these cases, brands should take advantage of personalization tactics to make these incentives more relevant and tailored to each customer and to preserve brand integrity.
As these e-commerce challenges continue to face retailers today, customers will continue to see how they evolve to become more personalized and attentive to each customer’s unique preferences and needs, which will result in an increase in loyalty over time.
Julio Lopez is Director of Strategy and Head of Global Retail Practices at Movable Ink