Since early 2020, the pandemic’s effect on our industry has resulted in a collision of the virtual and physical worlds, and has fundamentally changed consumer shopping behaviour, rendering traditional retail almost unrecognizable.
LEVERAGING THE CUSTOMER SHOPPING JOURNEY
Never has it been more crucial to focus on – and leverage – today’s primarily hybrid customer shopping experience. Although consumers are choosing e-commerce for its accessibility, there is still a desire for the convenience of brick and mortar – to physically see and touch products, and to feel a human connection.
Ultimately, to remain relevant, retailers need to fully cater to the latest hybrid shopping trends.
GAME CHANGER – TAKING ACTION IN TODAY’S HYBRID REALITY
If you have not already done so, it’s time to invest in a digital strategy; essentially, to implement a digital action plan. In our current hybrid and e-commerce environment, you can assume that customers will learn about your services and products online, and will likely buy them on your digital platform as well.
You want shoppers to be aware of you at the critical moment when they decide they need to purchase a specific product. That’s why it’s vital that potential buyers see online information about your products and brand. To build this general awareness, you can interact with them on social media (by posting relevant and up-to-date content), run banner ads and deliver digital flyers, promote your website and make use of search engine optimization.
These are only some of the ways to ensure they include you in the initial list of brands or stores they consider, based on their hybrid perceptions and their exposure to your various media channels.
When shoppers move on to active evaluation (researching, comparing and reviewing options), convincing them to choose your product and your store will inevitably hinge on your digital presence and ultimately determine whether they choose to buy from you.
YOUR WEBSITE MATTERS!
Because 93% of consumers begin their shopping experience with an online search, there is a good chance your website will be their first glimpse of your store. Generally, shoppers expect to find the following content on your website:
- product images and descriptions
- product, brand, and store reviews
- product prices
- product availability
- delivery options, and
- a way to chat or interact with you
ACCOMPANY YOUR CUSTOMERS THROUGH EVERY STEP OF THEIR SHOPPING JOURNEY
I believe it’s safe to say that the customer journey begins long before shoppers have a specific need in mind. Current trends are telling us that the customer shopping experience is much more valuable and enjoyable when the retailer is right by their side, interacting with them through each decisional phase – from awareness to initial consideration, from active evaluation to purchase (with active engagement from the retailer to ensure the online sale goes smoothly using messaging, live chat, email, phone calls, interactions with the sales team, etc.), and finally, to loyalty.
It is crucial that your service be exemplary. When shoppers have a positive experience, they will reward you with loyal, repeat business.
AFTER-SALE CUSTOMER CARE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
Post-purchase, it’s important for retailers to stay in touch on an ongoing basis with their customers through their existing hybrid relationship. Customers should be encouraged to share their experience in reviews and to recommend your brand and products. Consider the sale the birth of your relationship, one that needs continuous nurturing well after the sale is complete. Taking a hybrid approach to the customer journey can help you target and engage the right customers by personalizing all your touchpoints.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Think about cross-selling and up-selling to increase sales or generate new revenue. Invest in analytics to leverage data captured from your points of contact to improve your competitive position. The insights you gain may suggest expansion possibilities through partnerships or acquisitions, allowing you to widen your product offering, diversify and grow your market share – while leveraging resources, saving on costs, protecting yourself from your direct competition, and mitigating the risk of an industry downturn.
INVESTING IN YOUR LONG-TERM SUCCESS
Your long-term success in the rapidly changing retail landscape ultimately depends on your ability to create a seamless hybrid shopping experience for your customers – and your willingness to invest in your marketing, your online presence, and in analytics.
However, the ultimate goal hasn’t changed: it is still to create value by tailoring your products and services to the specific needs of your customers. After all, your value proposition is why customers choose to shop online at your store rather than somewhere else.
Cantrex is well aware of the challenges facing our retailers. We have the tools you need to drive shoppers to your website, and so much more. Our team of marketing experts can evaluate your current content and recommend a customized digital marketing package that is sure to add tremendous value to your customers’ overall shopping experience.
We are here to assist you in implementing your digital action plan to attract more customers, earn shopper loyalty, land more sales and add value to your bottom line!
WRITTEN BY JEANNINE GHALEB
President & Chief Operating Officer at Cantrex Nationwide