5 minute read
A lot has changed over the past decade. Blackberry has gone from a household name to one that you rarely hear. Online dating evolved with the introduction of dating apps, such as Tinder. Facebook became the most popular social media platform. And global ecommerce has well surpassed one trillion dollars in sales. But what has changed for the average shopper? A ton.
Shoppers know more about your business and your products
When someone has questions about a product, they often look to an employee. Naturally, you expect employees to be more knowledgeable than shoppers, right? Not always. The internet has changed how much people know about products. Almost three-quarters of young customers conduct research before entering a store. And in a recent survey, it was found that 73% of respondents felt they knew more about products than the employees. This gap in customer–employee knowledge has caused employee assistance to become less important in the eyes of the customer. The increase in customer knowledge has also inflated customers’ expectations of employees and the companies they represent.
Have you ever gotten help from an employee and realized they added no value to your experience? That type of employee isn’t cutting it for customers anymore. Shoppers are looking for a new type of employee – one with expertise and knowledge. That isn’t a bad thing either as knowledgeable employees often sell up to 123% more than other employees. Although expertise often comes from training at the retailer’s expense, the ROI pros outweigh the cons. As customers are learning more about what products they want, they’re also evolving in terms of the type of experience they want to have.
Personalized shopping is the new standard
The new personalized shopping experience has made it so shoppers aren’t limited to how or when they can shop. Do you work all day and can’t make it to the hardware store before it closes? Not a problem. Ecommerce now allows people to buy almost anything, anytime, anywhere. Malls and local stores used to be where everyone would go when they needed something. But over the past decade, people have turned online and ecommerce has seen its sales more than triple within the US alone. Ecommerce did what malls and physical retailers couldn’t – give every type of customer their preferred way to shop. Do you like shopping online but don’t like waiting? Try click and collect. Always on the go? Just use your mobile phone to shop. The possibilities are endless.
The customer experience has been evolving due, in part, to the advancements in smartphones. Do you remember when owning a Motorola Razor was a big deal? Now, almost 70% of the US population own a smartphone. And while companies continue to stretch the limits of what our handheld devices can do, our shopping experience will continue to become that much more personalized. Customers now hold the power to shop anywhere, all in the palm of their hands.
How much data companies have and how they use it has also influenced the traditional customer experience. Just recently, businesses started to collect and store massive amounts of data on customer preferences. Data collection and analysis is common for businesses and with extensive amounts of data, retailers can create a tailored experience for every shopper. Beacon technology is a perfect example of how companies are using data and mobile devices to change the shopping experience. You can now be passing a store and receive an alert to your phone about promotions or remind you of your last online shopping cart items. In a study done by Swirl, it was found that 61% of shoppers are more likely to shop at a retail store during the holidays that has beacon marketing programs. Data gives businesses the power to engage shoppers through customer preferences. But with great power, comes great responsibility, or for businesses – with great personalization, comes great expectations.
Customers’ expectations are sky high
Over the past ten years, customers have grown to expect more of businesses. They expect a frictionless shopping experience and if you can’t meet their expectations, someone else will. They want to be met where they shop – mobile, desktop, text message, etc. – with a consistent experience across all channels. In fact, more than 85% of consumers expect the same quality and speed when shopping on a mobile device as they would have on a desktop.
Ten years ago, filling out information when shopping online wasn’t seen as a waste of time. The convenience of shopping online instead of driving to the store was enough to satisfy shoppers. Today, businesses are looking for innovative ways to meet customers’ growing demands.
With their mobile app, Starbucks customers can now have a more efficient process for getting their daily cup of joe. Customers can walk in and walk out with their coffee – without ever pulling out their wallet. In the first quarter of this year, transactions done via their mobile app accounted for over twenty percent of their U.S. sales.
But the need for speed doesn’t only apply to the shopping experience. When ecommerce was first beginning to take off, two to four-weeks shipping was the norm. But now, that’s too long. When customers buy something, they want it as soon as possible. Their heightened expectations have pushed businesses to offer same-day or two-day delivery. Although one or two-day delivery is what customers expect, some innovative retailers are looking to take it a step further.
Amazon, for example, has been testing Prime Air – a fulfillment system that uses drones to deliver products to customers’ doorsteps. One day, they expect to be able to get products to you within half an hour or less. As companies continue to decrease the amount of time it takes to deliver products, customers’ thirst for speed will follow.
The companies that recognize these trends and provide their customers with an experience that is what they expect, or more, will see movement in the right direction. With an improved experience, customers get what they want and businesses can keep their customers happy – it’s a win, win.