In a time of disruption and uncertainty, consumer spending is becoming harder to secure, and harder to keep. A combination of caution and increasing sophistication means retailers must work harder than ever. In the current marketplace, the combination of the right product or service delivered with superior customer experience is the gateway to retail success.
Consumers' values are becoming more important aspects of their purchasing journey. Putting the customer, not the product, at the centre of the equation means that their personal preferences and needs becomes the focus of building a holistic shopping experience.
Retailers and brands are attempting to satisfy the demands of more discerning, more informed and more demanding customers. They can no longer rely on the traditional approach of targeting a set of chosen customers. Consumers will choose the direction of their personal spending, and their choices are increasingly influenced by the distinctive value and customer experience they encounter. Putting the customer, not the product, at the centre of the equation means that a holistic shopping interaction will deliver a return on experience.
The in-store experience remains the most immediate connection between consumer and product. With growing pressure from online retailers, it’s time to focus on creating a compelling cross-platform proposition. Creating a seamless combined store and online experience is a key differentiator. With mobile shopping growing significantly in the last twelve months, the store still offers retailers an opportunity to create real engagement with the people who matter most.
As retailers and brands look to create more seamless shopping experiences, technology is becoming the great enabler. The ubiquity of mobile commerce is happening even faster than previously anticipated. Mobile-based research, shopping and payments are now easier and more reliable than ever. With consumers tending to research online and purchase offline, online and social media advocacy can be a significant influencer while shoppers are investigating their options.
Loyalty and trust are essential to the consumer experience. Socially, environmentally and locally-conscious retailers and brands who can demonstrate responsibility and sustainability have a competitive advantage. Companies need to be mindful of the growing ethical and ecological consciousness of their customers. Consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for products and brands who are transparent about the sustainable origins and production practices of their goods.
Retailers and brands need to be aware of new technological innovations as they plan the customer experiences of the future. The Irish consumer is open to new smart technology innovations, in particular smart-home devices and voice assistants. Understanding how markets and customer expectations will change with the advent of these emerging digital solutions, and planning business strategies accordingly, will be essential to future success.