With the pandemic radically changing the way we browse, research, and shop, it has meant a rethink of how businesses must connect with their customers.
A recent report has highlighted this shift among businesses that are actively adapting their operations in response to the huge external circumstances. According to the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report, around 82% of retail is prioritizing their customer experience; and this priority is more important in retail than any other industry.
So what are these customer experience strategies?
The new fundamentals (or newish, since they’ve been the driving forces of brand improvement for over a year now) include the optimization of inventory management and broader shipping options like contactless payment and delivery.
The customer experience has never been more pronounced as it is right now. We, as customers, are increasingly expecting a personalized journey from the movement we enter a brand’s site, or the moment that an email is dropped into our inbox. And we’re also increasingly expecting more contactless ways of paying and receiving products – whether that’s online or in-store.
For brands to meet these expectations, they first need to realize that to offer personalized experiences means that everyone at the company is responsible for customer experience. It is no longer only in the realms of the customer-facing staff.
For example, software developers are responsible for building easy and enjoyable user interfaces for customers to engage with, and for shortening the purchase journey. Likewise, the supply chain team must ensure that inventory is always stocked and for customer’s delivery preferences to be realized.
And then for all teams to communicate consistently in order to not allow silos to form around each team. These teams need access to the same data in order to make good decisions. As an example, supply chain managers can increase their coordination with suppliers if they have access to real-time data on the most popular new products or the stock that is running dangerously low and is in need of a topup. The clearer the visibility the easier it is to make the right decisions. And with insights into the data, brands can view how well other competitors are performing as well as other vendors and distributors.
These solutions are more difficult to achieve if a brand hasn’t optimized their digital solutions. Yet these more complex solutions are built into some platforms, such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, that prioritizes the personalization of digital experiences, and its latest version (SFRA) steps it up with a mobile-first approach to keep in line with current trends in the popularization of ecommerce by mobile.
The 360 view
By forging a new future through a deepening culture of data, brands have the opportunity to expand their view of their customers by utilizing broader data segments on the customer, the product, and the inventory.
A robust CRM will provide such a data environment, which helps to ultimately clarify the vision of a single source of truth for data. Such a 360-degree view promises to give all the key insight to the relevant teams. With the data in place, brands can then build on top of that with AI, and in particular predictive analytics, (such as Salesforce’s Einstein Intelligence) which can be implemented to better understand the customer, their buying behavior, and their preferences, to better predict future purchases.
The expansion of the data environment coincides with the equally expansive platform environment. We no longer only walk into a store and buy a product. Nor do we simply visit a brand’s site, throw a few products into a basket, and head to checkout. Today, we interact with a brand through an average of 9 different touchpoints.
As this clearly implies, most of the time a customer is interacting with a brand, it’s not happening on their homepage nor across their website. It’s increasingly on social media platforms and messaging apps. This is a trend called shopping at the edge.
In line with this, just over half of brands and retailers (55%) are aiming to beef up their customer communications across their channels to better interact with their customers wherever they can find them.
Made for mobile
As pointed at earlier, the prioritization of brands is to gear their customer experiences for mobile first. Research from the first quarter of 2021 shows that 69% of all ecommerce traffic comes from mobile, and 57% of ecommerce purchases are made on mobile. It’s no wonder that the majority of brands and retailers are investing more into mobile-first approaches such as SFRA, the latest version of Salesforce Commerce Cloud. As an example, a clear move forward to being mobile-first is the development of your own mobile apps, where customers are only one click away from your brand.
PS: ArganoUV is one of the world’s leading Salesforce B2C Commerce Cloud development & strategy teams. Contact us to see how we can work together.