When it comes to today’s shoppers, understanding consumer behavior is complex. Multiple factors affect their actions, from technology to generational/socio-economic differences, cultures, and accessibility.
From this complexity, some patterns emerge which can be used to guide future processes and better align your business for success with today’s consumer. Recognizing and analyzing these patterns allows you to plan a sophisticated strategy of your customers’ path to purchase.
Customers still want brick-and-mortar stores
I’ve said it before, but I will say it again. While online shopping is important, 49% of consumers say they would choose a store over the web due to tangibility of product and immediate gratification. The ability to see, touch, and take home products right away is still attractive to shoppers. Who doesn’t want to be able to try on the shirt, see the cut, how it feels, and wear it that night or weekend? The desire to interact with sales staff and ask questions is still common. Nail the basics; train staff, ensure your inventory is up to date and product options are available.
Customers expect solid customer service – and will punish those who don’t deliver
The accessibility of large audiences over social media has helped customers find a voice when encountering poor customer service. Brands and retailers need to be ready to react swiftly to both positive and negative attention. The former, to harness the good things said and spread it; the latter, to stop a small spark from becoming a raging and destructive forest fire. As we saw recently in an extreme case with United Airlines, a less than honest response to painfully poor customer service can continue to balloon an issue until it damages your sales, traffic, and your brand. Be truthful, own it, and have the proper communications and training in place to quickly mitigate the impact.
Customers expect a great user experience – both online and in-store
Customers have access to high-level technology and services each day; thus, their expectations are increasing. Smartphones and apps have become so deeply ingrained in our culture; it has afforded customers a degree of user experience, service, and flow that makes anything but that a burden. People want search results to find them. They also expect their shopping experience to be seamless. Your website needs to be up to date, easy to read and navigate. The same principle applies to your store and its layout. Though these expectations are not always attainable for smaller retailers, it is important to make it simple, and as accessible as possible. Customers can tell when these steps haven’t been taken. Do your best to make the path-to-purchase a smooth one with analytics to learn customer preferences, simple payment processes, and data-driven customer retention strategies.
To keep up with changing shopper preferences, and a growing number of channels, retailers must constantly pivot their approach. Check out our interactive infographic to learn 5 steps you can take to achieve real time personalization.