The vast majority of shoppers move across channels on the path to purchase. They may move from your website to a mobile app and into your brick-and-mortar store all in one shopping trip—and they expect that experience to be smooth and without frustration. After making a purchase, they may seek support by phone, email, chat, or in-store. When shopping across channels or reaching out for support, consumers don’t want to re-enter their contact information and repeat their issues again and again. As a result, brands and retailers have been tasked with finding ways to make the shopping experience more convenient, less troublesome, and more engaging for customers.
When considering what makes a customer’s shopping experience seamless, brands and retailers shouldn’t simply throw money at all the different shopping channels—that won’t magically translate into a better customer experience. Instead, true seamlessness requires a strategic approach involving personalization, omnichannel support, and frictionless customer service.
Discovering What Makes a Customer’s Shopping Experience Seamless
Shoppers want their favorite brands and retailers to “know” them. They want customized web content based on their category or purchasing profile. They want to see options that fit their desired criteria. They want ads based on items they’ve searched or purchased in the past. They want their feedback considered and the opportunity to customize products to their liking.
The most successful retailers:
- Identify customer desires and pain points.
- Find the right technology partners.
- Track data across digital and in-store channels.
- Personalize recommendations to the individual.
- Define success and how to measure ROI.
- Deploy, measure, and optimize personalized campaigns.
What Does Seamless Personalization Look Like?
Shoppers don’t want distracting or irrelevant interruptions that detract from their experiences. Interruptive experiences may include:
- pop-up ads, sticky info-bars, or interstitials that block the screen while browsing websites
- mobile push notifications when smartphone users have not allowed or expected them
- unsolicited marketing emails trying to sell products outside of a consumer’s interest
By contrast, seamless personalized experiences include:
- online ads that appear as “sponsored posts” on social media
- opt-in, transactional, and ongoing emails that serve as lead nurturing
- inline code that adds sections of content to a page based on the visitor who is reading
- A/B testing to determine which landing page or ad copy to display
Through seamless personalization, you collect information and use it in a helpful way, without shoppers feeling like you are being intrusive. Shoppers want transparent communications on their terms and easy opt-out notices.
Shoppers expect a high level of support that transcends channels. They’re going to stores, shopping online, browsing social platforms, and using mobile devices.
The most successful retailers are attracting shoppers to their landing pages with SEO-rich content, running contests, fostering user-generated content on social media, and designing mobile apps featuring engaging video content and tailored deal.
Whether marketing offline, online, or via mobile, you’ll want to have a cohesive look and feel from your homepage and social media channels to your in-store displays and ads. Use the same colors, typography, imagery, and message tone across all channels for a seamless omnichannel experience that makes consumers comfortable with your brand.
Despite the convenience of online shopping, most customers still prefer bricks over clicks. They like seeing, touching, and interacting with products before they buy. They like personalized attention from sales associates and the whole store ambiance. Location-based technology is one of the ways brands and retailers are creating a more seamless shopping experience. They are using beacons to know when specific customers arrive at the store, how long they stay, what parts of the store they visit, and how long they linger in a particular aisle. Mobile POS solutions are valuable in-store tools that yield a more seamless experience. Store associates can look up a customer’s shopping history to find product information tailored to their interests.
Seamless Social Media & Web
Online shopping may only represent eight percent of direct purchases, but the internet remains a vital part of a seamless customer experience with 81% of shoppers researching online before buying. Furthermore, half of shoppers use social channels to research purchases they’re considering, and a third use social as a channel to discover new items. Tracking customer behavior across the web and running email drip campaigns, paid targeted ads on social media, special web offers based on purchase/browsing history, and integrated rewards programs for online shoppers is key to seamless and personalized marketing online. Not only must retailers ensure they have a seamless user experience across all channels, but they’ll need to make the online/offline transition smoother as well. BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In-Store) is one of the latest innovations gaining traction with busy shoppers.
Over half of shoppers use mobile apps while in-store to inform their purchases. They use their phones to find and redeem coupons, to find items, and to learn more about items they’re intending to buy. In-app video is a fast-growing way to connect with customers, whether they are using your native app or a third-party mobile shopping platform. In 2019, click-through rates for in-app video were two times that of native ads and over ten times greater than banner ads. Shopkick, a popular mobile shopping platform, invites users to earn rewards points for watching in-app videos. These points can eventually be redeemed for gift cards to use with partnering brands or retailers. By incentivizing video, one Shopkick partner's campaign received over 16M impressions and was highly successful in educating consumers before their trip to the store, boasting a 99% branded video completion rate.
Frictionless Customer Service
What are your customers’ pain points? Knowing the answer could mean the difference between retaining customers and churning them. Failing to address purchase issues quickly and efficiently can have detrimental effects. According to one survey, even if they love a brand, 17% of customers will walk away after one bad experience. On the other hand, when customers’ expectations are met or exceeded, companies gain measurable business benefits—including the chance to win customer loyalty.
It’s worth considering how to make your customer service more frictionless, whether it’s bolstering pre-purchase inventory management, expediting checkout, or resolving post-purchase issues more efficiently.
Consider these frictionless customer service fixes:
- Back-End Inventory Control: Cloud-based inventory management seamlessly tracks inventory moving in and out of your business. Equipping employees with real-time inventory data, keeping eCommerce websites accurately updated, letting shoppers know what’s available locally, and allowing shoppers to be notified when desired items are back in-stock lets consumers choose how they wish to buy and know you are a reliable retailer they can count on to find what they need.
- Checkout Solutions: Long gone are the days where shoppers have the patience to wait in long lines. Now they prefer to pay using self-checkout. Innovators are dabbling in surveillance-powered cashier-less stores. If they were able to pay for products using loyalty points or a digital wallet—rather than carrying cash or credit cards—68% of customers said they’d shop at a store more often and 57% said they would spend more money.
- Post-Purchase Communication: The best omnichannel support involves live chat, preferred by 54% of consumers. Shoppers don’t mind interacting with AI chatbots to save time, but virtual intelligence must be backed by human teams of doers who can ultimately get the job done. Offering email, phone, and in-store support shows you truly care about your customers. If they have complaints, customers want those complaints heard and addressed. It’s wise to pay attention to what customers are saying on review forums and social media sites after making a purchase.
When considering ways to make a customer’s experience seamless, begin by addressing customer pain points and bottlenecks. Asking for customer feedback is one way to get a pulse on the type of shopping experience you currently offer if you’re unsure where to begin. Once you’ve discovered the issues, move on to expanding your capabilities to be more in line with customer expectations. Technology makes a seamless engagement strategy possible. Options include intuitive web design, customer relationship management software, better back-end inventory control, location-based advertising, beacons, A/B testing, mobile checkout tools, and mobile app partnerships like Shopkick. Lastly, be sure your staff members are trained to put people first, whether it’s in-store, over the phone, on social channels, or via chat.
Shopkick is a shopping rewards app designed to assist brands and retailers in providing customers with a seamless shopping experience. Our partners use Shopkick to engage with in-app video and reach shoppers at the most crucial stage of shopping—when they’re in-aisle at the store, making a purchase decision. Contact us to learn more about Shopkick’s benefits.