A Brave Bison Greenlight Commerce roundtable (Closing the CX Gap) recently discussed what customers now expect from retailers and how focussing on those needs will guide future strategy.
The pandemic has had a massive impact on how people interact with retailers and the experience they expect to receive online. It poses a challenge for retailers to discover what good customer experience now looks like, and how and where it should be delivered.
These questions were central to a recent roundtable hosted by Ed Hornby, Managing Director of Brave Bison Greenlight Commerce. He reminded attendees that rising to the challenge is more important than ever, given that recent PwC research suggests two in three shoppers now prioritise experience over price.
Raised customer expectations
After two years when people relied on shopping online more than in the past, consumers are now more aware of how some retailers are easier to shop with than others. According to Jim Herbert, General Manager for EMEA at Big Commerce, this means there are now some features, the company’s research suggests, that are very popular with consumers and failure to provide them is taking a big risk.
“One-click checkout is a really important one to consider and Buy Now Pay Later, that’s up 40%, possibly due to inflation,” he said.
“Site speed is another important technical factor which Google now ranks you on. Also, mobile is going up 42% year on year. These things are really important in terms of the kind of best-in-class customer experience.”
The need to embrace mobile is central to nearly all retailers’ future growth potential, according to David Worby, co-founder of Prospero Commerce. It will vary from one business to another, depending on the customer base, but mobile commerce is now an option most customers expect to be offered. The good news is, it can be highly profitable.
“We’re working with a fast fashion brand and over 50% of their UK business comes on their app, the conversion rate is double, the average order value is 50% greater and the return frequency is four times greater than the desktop website,” he said.
“So, this is about knowing your customers and how your customers live their life and being in the places where they live their life, as opposed to expecting to be able to drag them to your website.”
Getting the customer’s mindset
Placing your brand within the lives of a typical customer is essential, Worby considers, because it allows the retailer to apply a mindset that should always be in tune with shoppers. This not only relates to offering great experiences on the most appropriate channels but also the actual words displayed on an app or website. Get these wrong and conversion rates can fall through the floor, he warned.
“I can’t tell you how many brands I talk to, who still use their internal language to talk to customers,” Worby said.
“Even on navigation bars and the filtering system on the left-hand side, they’re using internal palettes. It’s criminal, because most customers don’t understand the inner workings of businesses and how things get categorised and referenced. So, simply just go to some of your customers and look at the language they use and check whether the language you’re communicating with them on the website matches that. I’ll bet you there are lots of examples where it doesn’t.”
The roundtable offered up real-life examples where language was a significant issue. One health insurance provider improved its conversion rates huge by dropping an industry term no member of the public could understand. In another example, it turned out that translating a page into Swedish backfired because of how Swedish customers felt reading about a quintessentially British brand in English added to the shopping experience.
Customer-first approach to tech
It is clear that without consulting customers it can be very easy to make assumptions which turn out to be mistakes. For this reason, David Worby advised attendees to always keep the customer front of mind for all technology and partnership decisions. These decisions will need to be made regularly because Prospero research has shown all retailers hit an “inflection point” when they discover they can no longer carry on as they are. To improve customer experience, they will find they need new tools and to make sure the best choices are made, retailers should consider how their customers interact with them.
“I would recommend you create half a dozen user journeys as part of your requirements,” he said.
“It’s vital to use those user journeys in all the discussions that take place between gathering requirements through to decision making, to clearly understand what you’re going to be doing and how you’re going to be doing it in the new world. So, don’t have generic demos from suitable vendors, have specific demos that address the six user journeys that you’ve defined.”
This is a useful way to ensure the technology that a retailer shortlists is fit for purpose, but Jim Herbert added that companies must always be ready to change. Software and platforms will always be changing, as are the ways customers want to interact with a brand. He recalled rolling out an eCommerce service for a well-known high street retailer only to find that the iPad had emerged as the source of 60% of its traffic when it was finally ready. It didn’t exist when the project was started and so the store had to adapt quickly to accommodate the new channel that had suddenly taken the market by storm.
This speed of change message was the one that roundtable host, Ed Hornby summed up as the biggest take-out from the customer experience discussion. While the details will always vary from one retailer to another, he left attendees with a parting piece of advice. “Build for constant change,” he surmised. “And surround yourself with people who can help identify what that change should be on your own particular platforms.”
Catch the discussion highlights below or click here for the entire recording.