Forrester Research call this time the “Age of the Customer”. Customers have more control and have higher expectations than ever before. They are empowered, and simply put, they expect consistent, high value and relevant experiences when engaging with brands in-store. If they don’t receive the level of experience they were expecting they will go elsewhere or switch brands, never to return.
AGE of the CUSTOMER
There are a number of characteristics that reflect customers in today’s retail marketplace and they are as follows:
- Customers are in motion – customers rapidly adopt or abandon both retailers and brands, often based on a single experience. One wrong move can lose a customer forever whilst one outstanding experience can build the possibility for a loyal customer for life. Winning or losing in this era will happen in an instant.
- Loyalty is based on emotion and not transaction – transactions may trigger customer satisfaction but they are not drivers of long-term emotional affinity. Loyalty on the other hand is increasingly driven by emotional connection, in-store experience and relevant offers and this is the foundation of long-term retail success.
- You compete by experience – the nature of competition has changed and now customers compare you to other brands and retailers based on the experiences that you deliver. Competition is no longer defined by market share, it has gone micro and it is now defined by the retail experience that you can create and deliver to the individual.
- You need to empower your frontline – with brand affinity reliant on the quality of the experience delivered, it means that only true individualised engagement will win the hearts and minds of your customers. This requires your frontline teams to be able to convey, demonstrate, explain and answer any questions to help fulfil the needs of the customer at that precise moment they need it. This requires frontline staff, the retail environment and the merchandised product to all work in perfect harmony.
- Brand reputation wins over brand promise – action speaks louder than words. It is the ability of a brand or retailer to deliver on its promise that defines and establishes the basis for a successful relationship. For this reason, it is important to bring brands to life within a retail environment and to be able to demonstrate their features, qualities and differentiators through an inspiring, relevant and immersive engagement.
Importance of Relevance
Time is a critical currency within a retail environment. Customers do not want to have their time wasted. This is the single biggest reason for the delivery of a poor customer experience. Customers expect to be presented with a retail environment and an experience that is highly relevant to them. Relevancy means everything in today’s very difficult retail landscape. Customers are looking for a relevant shopping environment, relevant brands, relevant assortment, relevant information and relevant prices. These are all key to creating a winning shopping experience.
Relevancy is a key factor in defining the shopping experience and it continues to take an increasing role in how retailers and brands influence shopper behaviour and overall perception. The challenge is how do retailers and brands continue to keep their stores and displays relevant in a market of constant change. This need to continuously update and refresh the retail environment is placing time and financial pressures on retailers and brands to rethink how they will keep up with current shopper needs and expectations.
Connecting with the customer
According to Wikipedia, relevance is “a word used to describe how pertinent, connected, or applicable something is to a given matter.” As we consider today’s retail environment, relevancy is everything. The more a store or brand is relevant to a customer, the more connected shoppers will be. The more connected they are, the increased loyalty they will convey in what is a very fickle and competitive environment. Connectivity is the key to achieving emotional affinity and building a relationship where customers come back to your brand again and again.
In future posts we will share how both retailers and brands can remodel their environments and displays without significant investment in order to achieve and maintain relevancy.