Are you giving your customers the online experience they want?

Millennials and Gen-Z consumers are transforming retail behaviours and retailers are constantly having to adapt. Whether retailers want to drive more sales online or are looking to increase footfall to bricks and mortar stores, they will be falling behind if they don’t offer customers a multi-channel buying experience.

Consumers want the option to use multiple channels to make an informed decision and the option to be able to make a purchase wherever and however they want, depending on what’s convenient in any given moment. And it’s at this moment of purchase that brands need to be seen and to stand out from competitors.

As a minimum, customers expect brands to have a presence online and this online experience to be as consistent and representative of the brand as their offline experience. Brands need to make sure their marketing and sales strategies bridge any gaps in the cross-channel experience. Ultimately this experience need to be seamless.

As branding specialists we are always reinforcing the importance of consistent brand touchpoints and this is just as important with a customer’s experiences online - whether this is your website, online advertising, e-marketing or social media content. Brands need to tell the same story whatever channel the customer is using to ensure customers have a consistent brand experience no matter where they start their journey.

Data published by Google in May 2016 revealed almost half of UK eCommerce transactions (48.9%) now take place on mobile devices, this is up 6% year-on-year. And in fact four in ten (39%) UK eCommerce transactions now involve multiple devices along the path to purchase. Figures recently published by ASOS saw 50% of its sales come through a mobile device in February 2017, and 3.2 million downloads of its mobile app in the six months to 29 February.

Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. Interestingly 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on a computer or tablet did the same. For many of us, any purchase that isn’t an impulse buy starts with some online research, often on the sofa with a smartphone or tablet. These are scary stats indeed for any retailer with a bricks and mortar store who doesn’t have a mobile friendly site.

 

Clients often ask us ‘but how do we compete online, we’re not the cheapest in the market and our USP is not based on price?’ For example, how do brands translate the value of their knowledgeable sales staff and exceptional customer service to the online experience?

This is where a robust brand strategy and narrative comes into play. Brands need to make sure the consistent experience (mentioned above) is as relevant and personal to their customers as possible. Online content for example can build a picture of exceptional customer service with customer care stories, great returns and exchange policies and helpful advice and tips. However, it’s important that this content (be it blogs, videos, emails etc) is as relevant and engaging to your customer as possible. Brands need to grab the attention of their customers and stop them switching off.

Data collected from customers plays a huge part in being able to personalise and customise the experience. Collecting data from a newsletter sign-up, a purchase made (in store or online), or collecting the trail of online information consumers leave behind about themselves isn't new. But it is more important than ever to process this data smartly and put it to best use.

Using this information to customise and personalise a customer’s experience online and serving this to them at a time when they are researching or looking to buy a specific product can speed up their purchasing decision. Brands use various tactics to achieve this, such as remarketing, display advertising, e-mail marketing, social content, live chat, and customer loyalty schemes.

Gen Z and Millennials expect a seamless, faster, and perfectly executed consumer experience with no room for dissatisfaction. The brands that are most successful in achieving this online all have one thing in common. They put the customer experience at the heart of everything they do to create a truly loyal customer base that keeps them coming back.