Whether you’re an ecommerce retailer, a brick-and-mortar retailer or both, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate your business based on products alone. Instead, a new report concludes, retailers need to focus on the customer experience, both today and going forward.
Online-only retailers, commoditization of products and the growth of mobile use are among the factors making retailers’ jobs harder today, says The Retailer’s Imperative: A Strategic Approach to Customer Experience. That’s why you need to differentiate your business based on offering seamless, personalized customer experience no matter where your customers are shopping or what device they’re using.
Key takeaways from this report:
- Mobile matters. Younger consumers, especially, are used to a mobile-first world. Increasing numbers of consumers interact with businesses primarily or only on mobile devices. That means your mobile shopping experience needs to be just as simple and intuitive as it would be on a desktop computer. However, simplicity and ease are only the beginning. Your mobile merchandising needs to be sophisticated enough to attract shoppers, convey your brand and get them involved with your brand. It can’t be an afterthought.
- Use technology to see where customers are coming from and what they’re doing. Online, this includes using Web analytics tools to show you what drives customers to your site, where they come from, which ones are coming back and what they’re doing on your site. In the brick-and-mortar world, customer loyalty apps can be invaluable in giving you access to customers’ shopping habits and purchase history as well as their personal data.
- Measure how satisfied customers are with your customer experience. There are many ways to do this. Customer surveys are the number-one method, but measuring customer loyalty, average purchase amount, conversion rates and the number of returned purchases will give you a clearer picture of what’s working and what’s not.
- Customer experience matters offline, too. For example, the report notes, you can’t promote a luxury experience in your physical store and get by with a bare-bones, basic online experience on your ecommerce website—or have a sophisticated website and an understaffed, poorly stocked store. All elements of your branding, marketing and purchasing experience must match up and convey a unified feeling.
- Stay forward-thinking. Don’t assume that today’s customer experience will work tomorrow. Keep your eyes on the future and keep up with retail and technology trends so your business is poised to change along with customers’ shopping behaviors.
Overall, the report notes, the growth of ecommerce means both opportunity and challenge for small businesses. You’ve got the opportunity to promote yourself just like a bigger ecommerce retailer would, but you also face the challenge that consumers are increasingly buying on price. That means differentiating yourself via the factors above is crucial.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.