Customers expect consistency: a clear-cut shopping path

Customers expect consistency : a clear-cut shopping path

We are living in a world where we expect to get what we need at the end of our fingertips. This is precisely what the power of digital is about and, while the pandemic has accelerated its pervasiveness, it is only the beginning. Digital is shaping our mindset and as average consumers are spending about 3 hours per day on a smartphone everyday (source: Connectivity and Mobile trends survey, Deloitte Insights, 2019), they unsurprisingly apply the same expectations they have towards digital to the non-digital aspects of their lives. Human mind is tricky and as it gets accustomed to convenience, it becomes less tolerant of the lack of it. As online buying is growing popular amongst generations in our post-covid era, this also applies for shopping and is a concern as the retail world is experiencing the most disrupting upheaval it has ever known.

Standards of convenience have been instilled by pioneers like Amazon who understood the importance of delivering a strong promise to consumers which, not only includes price but also availability, shipping method and time of delivery. Many retailers/brands have aligned since but the majority is still trying to catch up as their inherent processes are impeding a single view of stock and customers across their channels and a seamless order orchestration between online and offline when it comes to delivering an order. Other brands like Nike have also placed convenience at the heart of their processes to meet the expectations of their customers. As one walks into their famous store in New York, product availability (whether online or in-store) and delivery method options (whether collection in store or home delivery) are immediately available for the one who is out there to spend. They have got one thing right: if the path to the purchase of the product is not clear-cut, Big Spender, or just Regular Spender for that matter, is going elsewhere! 

What is a clear-cut shopping path ?

Consider the rudimentary process of purchasing. First, there is “research” provided there is an “intent to buy”. Globalisation, the internet and social media have made it more extensive. Then, there is “establishing contact” with one or many brands/retailers before making a choice. Ultimately, there is “payment”, but only if reassured by the brand/retailer/product and after gathering clear information about delivery.

To have control over “research”, retailers/ brands need to ensure content is overseen and taken care of across all channels which are likely to be used by their target audience. Moving on to the “establishing contact” part, they must acknowledge that, as larger generational groups are enjoying the time-saving and omniscient nature of online channels, support needs to be provided online in order to have a digital alternative to the uncool customer care service and/or sales associate in store. Earning trust is crucial before the customer proceeds to payment, and trust can only be earned through a clear promise.

Capture site agnès b.

Example of a strong promise: Snapshot of the product page on www.agnesb.com offering both home and In-store delivery 

How to build that clear-cut shopping path?

In a digital world where consumption rules and commodity prevails, choices are endless and customers will not settle for anything less than what they expect. Indeed:

  • Since Digital has become the de facto, retailers must end their schizophrenia and ensure their online persona is ditto on every channel. Consumers who have an online customer account do not want to give their details again in store for instance. It feels like having a deep conversation with someone on Tinder and having that same person ask for your name again the first time you meet in person.
  • Merchandising and search features are useful but clearly not enough. Window shopping has gone virtual and as consumers go online, although they appreciate help in finding out something they might be interested in, personalised marketing is tricky. We hate feeling like Big Brother is watching. Intelligent guided selling is growingly becoming a smart way to interact with consumers the same way those amazing sales associates who remember the name of your grand-mother would in those five-star shops you love! Clients of our partners at Conversity have won awards recently in that field.
  • My lifelong motto is, you never get a second chance to make a first impression and I believe it applies in retail just like it does anywhere else. Get the promise right, upfront. If, within the 30-seconds when I lay my eyes on the product page I like, information is missing out on product availability, store location and other relevant details, price, shipping costs and delivery options, chances I carry on with my purchase will decrease by 80%.

For a clear-cut path, think Digital at every level and apply it to each process involved in selling to your customers: marketing, selling, fulfilling, delivering. 

Beware as, if thinking digital will feel natural in some areas, it will require a total transformation in others. Don’t stop mid-way. Finish the race, dixit Doc Rivers. If digital becomes the vehicle for every aspect, this will inevitably lead to homogeneity and a re-organisation of processes. Be agile. Go with the flow. As your business goes through this mutation, think Unified Commerce and make sure you have a persistent unified cart across all channels. Time to shed off the old skin to join the new generation of Retail Champions!