It used to be when consumers needed a stove, they went to the local appliance store. When their kids outgrew their school clothes, they headed straight to the department store. Out of bread or milk? They were off to the grocery store. That was that, and no other options were as convenient.
Fast forward a few decades, and now consumers have many more choices about what they buy, how they buy, and who they buy from. That same stove can be bought at Lowe’s, online, or in-store. It’s also available from Overstock.com, Wayfair.com, and Amazon—the list goes on. On top of that, today’s consumers aren’t as price-conscious as previous generations, making it even harder for brands to stand out.
According to Galia Reichenstein, general manager, U.S., at mobile adtech company Taptica, retail has hit another “crisis point, with waves of store closings.” Indeed, retailers including JCPenney, GameStop, and Bebe have all been in the news lately, with stores closing across the country.
“Customer experience is key to turning the corner on this trend,” Reichenstein told CMO.com. “Customers still want to shop today, but they want to do so on their own terms and in a way that is most convenient for them. CX allows retailers to dig a little deeper and further develop a relationship with consumers.”
Michael Klein, director of industry strategy and marketing for retail, travel, and CPG at Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company), agreed that retailers are no longer in the business of just selling products.
“From a retail perspective, it's going to be about the ability to deliver a seamless, more frictionless experience that will bring value to the customer,” he said.
Retailers that can “engage and delight,” while making the shopping experience easier and less time-consuming, will be the ones that win in the end, Klein said. “Rethinking how you do business and how to best engage customers will help you give your customers more than products,” he added. “You’ll deliver experiences that adapt to the way they live and help make their lives easier.”
Jill Standish, head of Accenture’s retail practice, said that retailers making a commitment to become experience-led businesses must first define their customer journey and identify all of the various ways a consumer would interact with a brand—both online and in the store.
“If you’re making a commitment to experiences, you’ve got to ensure they’re memorable, shareable, and repeatable,” she told CMO.com. “And there are a lot of brands who are trying new things out both online and in-store.”
We take a look at five.
According to Standish, Sephora has done a great job at making shopping more of an experience, whether a person comes into one of its stores or goes online to Sephora.com. Sephora’s “The Beauty Workshop,” for example, has become a popular way to learn beauty techniques. Customers who prefer to learn online can watch how-to videos and get beauty advice via the branded Beauty Talk community. For shoppers interested in going to a physical store, makeovers with expert artists is proving to be a worthwhile experience. Additionally, the retailer has made beauty classes available in stores that cover topics such as “age-defying skincare,” “teen makeup,” and “no-makeup makeup.”