How retailers are shifting their focus to match evolving customer behaviors.
While many customers are still purchasing from their favorite brands, in the same ways as they have previously, a large quantity of US consumers are changing their shopping behaviors in adaptation to new challenges of the market.
Brand loyalty that has been established over years is now under question, retailers spend significant marketing budgets to establish brand awareness and curate a seamless experience. During the pandemic at least 44% of retailers have tried a new brand due to fulfillment length, availability issues or safety concerns.
All of this change has led brands to focus on their eCommerce channels, but without an established backend, operating eCommerce while managing in store inventory, on hand stock levels and customer experience can be challenging. This led to significant friction at the start of the pandemic, with many retailers unable to manage high levels of order volume.
But, while selling a product is of course a positive for bottom line numbers, if not effectively leveraged to drive customer loyalty & long term engagement it only serves as a singular sale. In store, associates can play a large role in providing memorable experiences that continue to keep customers involved engaged & active.
Recognizing Customer Loyalty
30% of customers surveyed would shop around if their preferred brand was not available from their preferred website, rather than buy from a different brand. This shows the efficacy of brand identity and the importance of creating engaging experiences that keep customers coming back. However, with that mentioned a negative customer experience can be detrimental to the same degree. eCommerce experiences have to reflect the expected experience in store. Customers should be remembered, feel welcomed and be effectively communicated with by associates.
But while customer behavior is shifting, retailer behavior is lagging behind. Many retailers have rapidly added curbside pickup, implemented eCommerce options & enabled contactless store experiences. These have generally been a patchwork implementation. Offering the basic level of functionality needed to sell products safely and make it through the pandemic unscathed. But, now retailers have to look ahead. Customers are likely to retain their new behaviors, with the full impact of the pandemic still likely to continue, most customers are choosing comfort over in-store shopping.
What does this mean for retailers?
New Channels, new strategies. Now is the time for retailers to revitalize their approach to retail, through offering new channels, customers have the opportunity to connect more consistently with their preferred retailers and build broader relationships. But, a new approach is necessary. Retailers have to adapt their presence and cultivate a seamless experience for shoppers straight from their eCommerce site, all the way to the curbside or delivery.
Retailers have to start seeing the connection between sales channels, recognizing the value of a true brand advocate, or a customer that purchases primarily from your store & leverages multiple channels to do so. If customers have poor eCommerce experiences it is likely that they won’t return to your store when it is open, or may search elsewhere for their goods.
Improving Inventory Control
Inventory is also a significant challenge, with BOPIS and Curbside pickup retailers leveraging their stores as small-warehouses. This adds additional complexity, retailers have to manage orders fulfilled in several ways from one location, ensuring that inventory is appropriately allocated and visible. With multiple locations retailers can leverage stock across their network to ensure consistent stock levels as needed. Retailers need real-time availability and the ability to identify every item that is on hand with complete accuracy.
At Teamwork Commerce we believe in the “Holistic Customer” a customer that shops across channels, and is recognized across channels. Being able to use loyalty rewards everywhere, getting notifications or order updates consistently and accessing past behavior online or through a mobile application. This customer is consistently connected with the brand and serves as a key advocate for the brand identity. 84% of customers are loyal to brands and seek to continue this loyalty, they understand what to expect and enjoy that experience. So retailers have to ensure that this experience will be repeatable everywhere.
Implementing effective backend systems can enable a completely comprehensive customer experience across every channel. With Teamwork Commerce retailers can leverage the secure Omnichannel CRM across every channel. Leveraging complete data on every past customer to enable engaging loyalty experiences, effective transactional emails & optimal marketing communications.