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Becoming the preference

April 22, 2016

Once a customer is aware of the brand, marketing efforts should be focused on ensuring the customer chooses to purchase from you, over the potentially several other brands they have also been exposed to. Your competitors are employing customer experience tools too after all. Brand preference is almost directly correlated to brand experience – together, the two have a defining impact on customer’s purchasing choices, hence this stage is often considered the most definitive stage of the customer journey.

It is at this point therefore that it is imperative businesses are aware of the ‘moments of truth’ referred to in the introduction and their impact on defining experience. In a competitive market, the customer won’t hesitate to shift to a competitor offering the same product if the interaction becomes frustrating for any reason. Providing the information and tools the customer needs to seamlessly pass through the path to purchase regardless of interaction, device or location is crucial to ensuring the customer values your service over any other.

Website frustrations lead to lost sales

With a strong SEO campaign in place to drive awareness, a brand’s website is normally the first point of contact. Once at the website the consumer has sight of all the information needed about products, services, locations and so on that can help to shape preference toward the brand. Ensuring SEO is supported by as much consumer-useful information as possible, such as up-to-date details about stores and locations, including being searchable on Google and social channels is the best way to ensure the consumer’s search isn’t disrupted by uncertainty. Coupled with this is making sure the responsiveness of the site’s design and functionality doesn’t divert the customer. A recent Kantar study revealed that 69% of shoppers become frustrated by brand sites that aren’t mobile ready. So much is the case that it leaves a bad impression on the customer who is then unlikely to return to site.

Similarly, localised versions of the website can have a huge impact on a customer’s preference of your brand over another. Companies can use localised sites to foster a greater connection between customers and their local store. These localised sites are a great opportunity for brands to answer consumers’ expectations of practical information such as product inventory, comprehensive description of services, or experts offered at individual locations, geolocation features, all of this in an engaging, brand-consistent, environment. Research has shown that 50% of mobile and 34% of tablet users visit a store within a day of their local search, highlighting just how important both optimised and localised sites are for driving preference and a seamless customer journey.

In our next post, we will discuss the purchase stage – providing tips for marketers on the best way to ensure preference coverts to sales.

How webrooming and omnichannel retail is bringing customers back in-store

August 20, 2014

There has been an undeniable change in people’s buying habits in recent years, with how consumers choose to buy and research products evolving as technology does. Armed with smartphones and tablets, consumers now have access to multiple retail channels throughout the entire customer journey, prompting retailers to adapt to accommodate this.

The extent in which retailers have begun to do this and optimise for mobile can be seen in the IAB Mobile Retail Audit, released in June 2013. The study found that 74% of the top 50 UK retailers had a mobile optimised site, 64% of the retailers have an app, but only 48% have a store locator on their mobile site.

As a result of the increase in online activity, two trends have emerged in the retail industry, which have been dubbed ‘webrooming’ and ‘showrooming’. To define these terms, showrooming is when a customer visits a store to view a product and then makes the purchase online, whereas webrooming refers to the reverse; researching online to then purchase in-store.

Merchant Warehouse recently published a report which demonstrated the growth of webrooming, and highlighted how researching online directly impacted sales in bricks and mortar stores. The study revealed that people tend to research online or on a mobile device before going on to purchase in-store, with 69% of smartphones users aged 18-36 years having practiced webrooming, compared to only 50% who practice showrooming. The findings also show that nearly 80% of local searches on mobile turn into a purchase, with nearly 90% of these purchases being made in-store, highlighting just how important a tool the internet is for driving in-store sales.

This way of thinking can be further supported by a recent report from L2 and Rich Relevance, which examined omnichannel retail tactics and the importance of implementing an omnichannel strategy to take full advantage of webrooming. The study found that by improving the in-store shopping experience and process for the customer as a whole, retailers became able to convert showroomers into webroomers.

As a result of today’s digital age, consumers are beginning to expect omnichannel capabilities, making it essential that suitable cross-channel solutions are in place to meet this need. Being able to offer online ordering with in-store pick up services, easy to navigate store locators, product availability checking or appointment booking, for example, are all tactics retailers can use to drive traffic in-store and increase brand loyalty.

If recent studies have shown us anything, it is that modern technology and cross-channel solutions are empowering the customer, and are an excellent means of providing them with a relatively unlimited amount of information. If used correctly, the omnichannel retail experience is a powerful thing, and one which retailers should utilise as a valuable tool for creating a better customer experience, leading to increased revenue and better customer retention.