Consumer expectations continue to rapidly evolve, and keeping up with the complexity is still a largely universal challenge for retailers. New generations of mobile shoppers, technology innovations and always-increasing competition have created a situation where even the most established brands must reconsider their strategies or risk becoming irrelevant.
This is particularly true when you consider that in 2015, Amazon accounted for 51 cents of every dollar in e-retail growth and 24% of total U.S. retail sales growth.
So how are innovative retailers to compete?
They must compete on the customer experience. Competing on the experience means more than redesigning your checkout funnel or giving customers more timely offers. It means taking a holistic view of every online interaction through the lens of continuous optimization.
In fact, 89% of companies surveyed by Gartner believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition in 2016, and 94% of companiessurveyed by Econsultancy said they see "higher engagement and conversion rates" as benefits of a commitment to customer experience.
Here are 3 ways to are compete on customer experience to stay ahead of today’s complex shopper.
1. Deliver relevant experiences in real time based on behavior
Delivering truly personalized customer experiences isn’t just about including someone’s name in an email. It’s about understanding behavior at a granular level and continuously ensuring your customers get the experience they want.
We’re all different and delivering different experiences to play into these differences is not only a lucrative, but a vital practice for retailers.
“If our customer doesn’t see the perfect dress for her on the first page she visits, she’s likely to move on to the next app or site vying for her attention. It’s absolutely necessary to show her what she wants as soon as she comes to us—even if she doesn’t yet know what that item is.”
Grace Hong, Revolve VP of Product and Design.
Retailers can start delivering targeted, personalized content, and offers based on these common segments:
Past purchasers - if you know what they’ve purchased, highlight add ons to that product.
Viewed a product page - If a visitor views a product, show them more products in that category if they navigate back to the home page.
Return visitors who have not purchased - try different offers to compel visitors in this segment to make a purchase or take an important action such as sign up for your email newsletter.
2. Make shoppers aware of your mobile presence.
Mobile is an integral part of today’s path to purchase. According to a 2016 study by Facebook IQ, 60% of shoppers say they plan to start making more purchases on their smartphones in 2016.
Before shoppers can actually use your other channels, you have the important task of making them aware that these channels exist.
Revolve, an online-only retailer specializing in men’s and women’s designer apparel, shoes, and accessories, ran a highly successful campaign to drive more shoppers to its mobile app. Through the app, Revolve can provide relevant,personalized experiences—such as notifications and special offers—that make shoppers convert.
The Revolve team designed and tested a new mobile experience to increase app downloads.
Using Optimizely’s mobile testing platform, they directed half of their mobile web visitors to a new splash page with a aggressive promotion to download the mobile app. The other half saw the original splash page with a softer promotion. With this test, Revolve increased app installs by 350%.
3. Continuously test and optimize page layout.
Layout is one of the key determining factors; product detail and checkout pages are particularly important. Friction there can bring conversions to a screeching halt. This is why it’s critical to optimize your site to make it as fast and easy to navigate as possible.
At Trunk Club, a men’s subscription clothing service, testing is built into the company’s DNA. They’ve been testing everything from their digital experiences to their product packaging since they launched in 2009. “Whenever we’re curious, confused or in doubt, we run a test and let the data speak for itself,” Mike Wolf, former Product Design Lead at Trunk Club.
Trunk Club has increased its customer-base by 133% and significantly grown revenue for the business by optimizing the layout and flow of it’s new member sign up. The original sign-up flow consisted of four basic inputs and a list of personal style questions.
The Trunk Club team tested a longer and more visual sign-up flow. While adding steps is counterintuitive, the team hypothesized that an in-depth sign-up experience better reflected what new members expect from the Trunk Club brand: highly personalized, custom services. And they were right. The longer, more visual flow increased subscriptions by 133%, generating a significant amount of new annual revenue for Trunk Club.
Make the customer experience your competitive edge
At no point in history of retail have consumers had more choice and control. They shop whenever and wherever they want (via websites, social sites, mobile apps, etc.) and expect great experiences at each touchpoint. All of this is great for consumers, of course, and offers some direction to retailers.
Following these three practices successfully will bring significant benefits - more customers will discover your brand, they’ll like what they see when they land on your website, and they’ll be more likely to convert. Ultimately, you will be more poised to deliver the absolute best customer experiences.
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