As ecommerce continues to soar, customer experience (CX) is now at the forefront of digitisation. As a result, how your customer experience in retail appeals to the online consumer significantly impacts your bottom line.
The steep incline in e-shopping during the pandemic converted in-store customers to online ones, a trend that has only increased. From order and delivery to a bouquet of online services, consumers expect brands to deliver seamless virtual experiences that begin at purchasing, cover aftercare, and everything in between.
So how can you meet changing online customer needs, deliver a flawless digital CX, and emerge as a brand leader in such a competitive ecommerce landscape? By adopting a flexible response strategy to the latest retail customer experience trends.
Migrating your product, communication, and service offerings onto a virtual platform is no longer a luxury but a necessity for the retail sector.
In Europe, retail comprises roughly one-fifth of all registered businesses or nearly five million enterprises. Given the industry’s size, following retail trends and delivering great CX is imperative if you want to stay relevant in these transformative times.
With consumer expectations in a state of rapid change, keeping up-to-date with the latest retail customer experience trends can help your business successfully navigate the era of digitisation.
Let’s look at how you can deliver great CX by understanding what retail customer experience is and what it means in a digital context.
What is retail customer experience?
Retail customer experience is every touchpoint of interaction and engagement between your brand and its audience. From product discovery to the selection process, sales activity, delivery and service, and the aftercare support customers receive from you. It’s all part of the customer experience in retail.
From a digital standpoint, this would include every contact or experience customers have with your brand online, including your user interface, user journey, and user experience.
Why does customer experience in retail matter?
Modern customer needs and wants have been steadily changing. For example, the rise of the internet has led to a generation of Millennials and GenZers who are digital natives. As a result, traditional brick-and-mortar—or mom-and-pop—stores may no longer appeal to this target audience as much as virtual marketplaces.
With the large-scale digital migration quickened by the pandemic, modern customers are looking for quick online responses and DIY solutions. Most people prefer to look solutions up or solve problems independently before contacting support over the phone.
Pleasing such a savvy customer base directly affects your bottom line. Harvard Business Review reports that better CX benefits sales as happy customers spend more money—sometimes by as much as 140%.
Personalised customer service experience is a vital component of customer satisfaction (CSAT) for modern consumers. Expert support generates profit as a key driver of customer loyalty and brand success. Global survey data backs this up with Zendesk reporting that over 60% of customers have higher service expectations today and that a single bad experience would show the same percentage deflecting to a rival brand immediately.
What is the future of customer experience in retail?
CX is a vital brand differentiator and profit generator for the retail sector. For the new generation, it matters more than product. Kantar’s research found that 6 out of 10 millennials in the UK would prefer purchasing an experience over a ‘material thing.’
To lead with CX, you need to personalise your relationship with shoppers and make them feel like VIPs. 91% of CEOs believe customer centricity is essential to business growth, so appreciating customer loyalty is crucial.
Meanwhile, the rise of powerful systems like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation has helped businesses incorporate data-driven strategies to improve their customer experience in retail.
As a result, a definite set of retail customer experience trends have emerged, defining the landscape of customer engagement and interaction today. Let’s look at what these are.
7 important retail customer experience trends for 2023 and beyond
If you can consistently deliver on your brand promise with great CX, you’ll reap the benefits of customer loyalty. Successful businesses strive to delight their customers constantly and actively avoid disappointing them, directly impacting business value by boosting yearly profits and savings.
To take your CX into the future, here are the most important retail customer experience trends to help you satisfy and delight your customers in 2023.
⭐ Omnichannel experience
Omnichannel presence is one of the top retail customer experience trends. Modern consumers simultaneously connect on various digital platforms, from social media channels and online forums to messaging, SMS services, and email. Consequently, they expect favoured brands to be just as connected and reachable.
With retail CX focused on omnichannel customer service, you’ll deliver consistent support quality across all channels. Your customers should be able to move from social media to messaging to a voice support call without hiccups. Doing so ensures you’re always on-brand and true to your service or product goals, creating wholesome CX while meeting customer expectations.
Automation can help you with this efficiently.
For example, well-designed chatbots and FAQs can provide consistent messaging across all brand channels. And specific training modules for customer service representatives also help you deliver consistently high-quality service.
⭐ New technology
Instead of relying on customer surveys, which sample only seven per cent of your consumer base, AI-backed strategies are a reliable method of improving your CX offerings.
Surveys can only yield a narrow and limited view of what a few customers think, feel, or need. But increasing sophistication in AI, machine learning, and sentiment analysis can help you precisely track customer data and predict future behaviour.
Additionally, intelligent automation can improve functions such as upselling, customisation, quality training, customer segmentation, suggesting alternatives, and reducing churn. Two-thirds of information and technology leadership said using AI for customer success is a top priority over the next few years.
⭐ AR/VR shopping
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology surged in usage during the past pandemic, with a current user base of 101.6 million and 64 million per eMarketer. Additionally, industries worldwide are currently applying both technologies widely.
From virtual reality in gaming to digital experience shopping to training and onboarding remote staff, AR/VR allow you to seamlessly execute your goals without requiring the physical human presence.
Both are important retail customer experience trends for 2023, as AR/VR’s ‘try on’ function is an effective tool for digital shoppers using mobile apps to purchase.
In physical stores, 67% of in-person visitors can be converted to buyers when given a trial space to consider how the product suits their needs. For online shoppers, AR/VR solutions can help them make better purchase decisions.
PWC research found that out of 80% of respondents using multi-channel shopping, one in three used a virtual reality (VR) channel, with the VR primarily used to help them purchase retail products and luxury goods.
⭐ Social commerce
With the upsurge in social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc., omnichannel retail or native buying directly on these platforms has become a common retail customer experience trend, set to flourish even more in 2023.
Shopping on Instagram and Facebook is gaining ground worldwide as customers don’t need to visit your website to purchase your products or services. Leveraging social commerce using data-backed strategies helps you find new customers for your products more easily. It can also help you generate loyal customers by making purchasing easier for everyone.
⭐ Customer centricity
Customer centricity—digital and physical—is an ongoing process of refinement and sophistication that puts the modern customer at the centre of your sales and service effort. It’s a vital business strategy with real payoffs.
Revenues at the most empathetic companies are at least 4% to 8% higher than their competitors. And even mistakes are forgiven and forgotten by 78% of customers, providing your service is responsive and understanding of their needs.
Market analysts at McKinsey predict that pre-pandemic buying behaviour will never return, as the future is likely to be ‘phygital’ or a hybrid mix of physical and digital shopping. With digital growth leaping ahead by an average of seven years in 2020, this has permanently altered consumer expectations.
Customers worldwide expect increasingly slick online experiences. Consequently, your ability to deliver empathetic and efficient digital CX has gone from pleasing a minority to a majority of your customer base.
With the influence of AI on retail customer experience trends, there’s a greater need for personalised service and empathetic human interaction across customer bases worldwide.
Per PWC’s research, 59% of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element in customer relationship building, and 74% want more personalised interaction in the future. So to increase a customer’s lifetime value with your brand, genuine empathy and human interaction are key.
Consequently, the takeaway from customer feedback on automation and AI is that the primary function of any digital tool is to enable and support human assistance, not replace it.
AI-based technologies like chatbots and automated self-help FAQs need to ‘learn from humans’ to be genuinely accepted and effective. Amongst other things, these tools must seamlessly support human interaction by enabling easy and unobtrusive transfers to live agents, when required, across multiple platforms.
⭐ Customer experience optimisation
Customer experience optimisation (CXO) is the consistent use of data to refine and improve the customer experience. For nearly 80% of American customers, for instance, speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service matter the most for a positive customer experience.
CXO should function as the perfect middle ground between what your customers desire and what your business can deliver across all its products and services.
A recent study commissioned by Adobe and Forrester found that customer experience-optimised products have a 1.7x higher customer retention rate, 1.9x higher average order value, and a 1.9x return on spend.
Consequently, optimisation-focused retail customer experience trends are seeing early adoption amongst businesses worldwide.
How to boost your customer experience for 2023
Since the onset of the pandemic, retail customer experience trends have changed tremendously. Digital is now mainstream. Harvard Business Review found that one-third of global consumers have used chatbots, voice bots, and self-service tools in the past year.
Other things that have seen increasing digitisation are workflows and interactions. For example, it’s now possible to capture incredible amounts of valuable data across the entire customer journey and survey to what extent a customer has had a positive experience—regardless of their satisfaction survey answer.
And even while AI offers the greatest opportunities to refine CX initiatives for businesses and customers worldwide, personalised experiences are more valuable to customers than ever.
Speech-to-text analytics, real-time sentiment analysis, and predictive engagement can help you deliver them by letting you understand, coach, course-correct, and redirect your employee-customer interactions more effectively.
Today’s experience economy is highly customer-centric, driven by empathy in the face of increasing digitisation. Balancing the right tech with the irreplaceable human component of CX is amongst the top retail customer experience trends that help you create and sustain a competitive advantage over other brands.
The remote solution
Genesys reports that at least 70% of global consumers feel a company is only as good as its service. So, above all the other retail customer experience trends, delivering excellent customer service is a necessity and core competency for every successful business today, industry notwithstanding.
Understanding and continually improving your customer service is equally as important as product innovation, supply chain management, and your sales or marketing strategy. Doing so puts delivering remote service in the foreground of digital innovation.
The Cocoroco platform provides thousands of customer service candidates available for remote hiring within a 14-day hiring period.
Our service reps are pre-vetted and highly qualified digital natives who will help you lead your CX into the digital future with personalised customer experiences for your customers worldwide.
Book a free demo with us today to find out what we can do for you.