The retail landscape is in a moment where customers are increasingly wanting, expecting, and demanding relevant and personalised experiences when they shop online. Yet it’s become as difficult as ever for retailers and brands to carry this out and build brand loyalty on top of that.
The potential has never seemed so lucrative, as within every working generation, many if not most of them have been more digital than physical in 2020: working from home, spending their free time at home, shopping online from home.
Global ecommerce sales for 2020 reached $4.1 trillion – doubling in size from 2015. Yet while this broadening of online consumers appears lucrative, also expanding is the spectrum of competition, all fighting for every customer and market share. And as a consequence, it’s become very difficult to build brand loyalty.
Over the last year consumers have tended to stray from the desire lines that led them to certain brands. They’ve made new paths to different brands – especially towards those who boast of easy online journeys and short checkout lines, as well as great online customer service for those who originally struggle with ecommerce.
Three in every four shoppers have changed their brand preferences since March of 2020. And with a crowded social media space where brands and consumers interact, there is so much up for grabs. But also, a more fundamental shift occurred, which is this: choosing a certain brand over another in the last 12 months has been shaped by financial pressures that millions of Americans have faced over the lack of work or limited capacity in which they’ve been able to work. Choices have been more conscious.
Priorities for consumers have been simpler, clearer, and overall better experiences that include things like more convenient channels and easier checkout pages.
So with brand loyalty loosening, what are effective ways to win lost customers back as well as catch new customers across all channels?
Essential for brand interaction for today and the future is offering products and integrating all channels that a brand operates. Integration is really the key here because the service interactions that you come across are along multiple channels that do not automatically communicate with one another. So what you get are islands of communication that the customer has to navigate without a clear route. Integrating them provides customers with clear pathways of communication.
As a general rule of thumb, consumers have a preference for communicating with brands via mobile apps, instant messaging through Facebook and Instagram, and through live agents on a brand’s site.
And as consumers, we interact with different channels depending on a number of factors. For more general enquiries we prefer instant messaging while for more complex issues we tend to either pick up the phone or speak with a live agent… in real time… with a real person (sorry chatbots). But how about if a customer uses these two channels for the same issue. Brands need to make sure that dialogues can be picked up and be continued on any platform, so as not to lose the thread of any customer conversation.
Those brands that make it clear and easy to find and use a contact see a 32% increase in higher loyalty intention from customers.
In short, make life easier for customers to get in touch and integrate all of your channels to ensure clear and constant communication, finding solutions to problems faster and free of frustration.
Tidal waves of deals have burst the banks of customer mail systems and flood their inboxes. Shopping events and virtual events – unlike in the past – seem to have lost their punch. But discounts for everyone doesn’t quite create a broad sense of loyalty to customers, especially those that have been consistently buying from a certain brand for years. Where is the benefit if they simply receive the same discounts as new customers?
To inspire greater brand loyalty, find ways to offer tailored discounts depending on the type of customer. One platform that collects a rich bundle of customer data – that accurately gives a picture of customer intentions, wants, needs – is Salesforce Commerce Cloud. The ecommerce platform allows exciting targeted digital experiences depending on highly specific sets of data like where they’re geographically located.
For example, offer deep discounts for customers depending on how much they’ve spent overall. So for customers that have spent over $300 during the last 12 months, they receive a 50% discount; for those that spent under $50 they receive a 10% discount. Or alternatively, for customers of 5-plus years that have consistently bought from a brand each year, they receive 50% off. And so on.
Personalizing content and offers also means that you can deliver these in timely and relevant ways, because you’re more aware of each of your customers.
And with greater depth of customer insight, brands can begin to have deeper conversations about what they want from their brand, and how brands can deliver. Providing aftercare services that go beyond purchase and ensures that customers are satisfied with their product. As well as to get feedback on their experience to improve future services and products.
With customers communicating their experiences back to the brand during aftercare, there is a better opportunity for engagement in the future, given that companies can learn how to help customers.
Brands who take the initiative and integrate all of their digital channels so that they are able to communicate with one another are going to bize into greater market share. Especially because face-to-face interactions have been and will continue to be very limited, integrated customer service can be utilized to take advantage of the current situation.
Omnichannel experiences can unlock greater brand loyalty and enrich the digital experiences of customers. And are going to play a greater role in brand-customer relationships.