Let’s be clear – providing a seamless personalized shopping experience is not for the weak or the lazy. Shoppers not only have different expectations of online and bricks-and-mortar shopping, they expect that retailers can adapt to reflect those different needs and wants throughout the path to purchase.
The Path to Purchase
In a recent study conducted by Microsoft, the Retail Council of Canada and Wise Plum, we surveyed over 5,000 Canadian consumers to understand what they expect when they shop. We were able to identify the problems that consumers experience both online and in-store while they’re shopping and after the purchase. Understanding these situations helps retailers to create the experience shoppers are expecting
We also found out that consumers are appreciating curated retail concepts. Rising demand for cooking classes, health and wellness sessions, and makeup tutorials means retailers must look at their physical space as experiential and entertaining environments. This recognition that consumers – including younger shoppers who are more likely to consider buying online – see the value of a physical store has retailers rethinking their bricks-and-mortar locations and even reconsidering their e-commerce strategies.
Strong retailers are finding ways to bring customer experiences to life in all channels. For example, Sephora has done a great job of creating personalized experiences for customers – connecting online and offline engagement strategies – using tools like augmented reality to allow shoppers to try on different looks via their phone. They have successful consumer communities and do a remarkable job of marrying content with products. Sephora leverages data from the beauty insider program to customize every aspect of the consumer’s experience.
Those strategies don’t need to be limited to the physical store. In addition to the in-store experience, retailers are curating special activities associated with the physical store space even outside their four walls. For example, Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), organizes a range of different outdoor activities such as guided mountain bike trips.
All of this is evidence that for retailers to succeed today, they need to facilitate seamless experiences that span the digital and physical worlds and provide personalized customer-care each step of the way.
It comes back to meaningfully and authentically engaging consumers throughout their journeys by focusing on adding value and building relationships that mirror lifestyle, preferences and needs.
Retailers focused on delivering memorable experiences understand what consumers want beyond just making a purchase. Shoppers want answers to their questions, they want information and content that relate to their needs, and, they want to be inspired.
If retailers can establish trust and brand awareness in addition to using personalization to build a one-on-one relationship, they can become part of the customer journey from beginning to beginning (because there really is no “end”).
For more information about on how Microsoft can help accelerate digital transformation within retail, download our guide here: aka.ms/RCCTransformingRetail.