This holiday shopping season was a tale of two experiences for many. Online retailers saw record-breaking sales as shoppers tried to take advantage of holiday discounts and avoid shipping delays.
In-store, however, the traditional lines and crowded stores of Black Fridays past were virtually non-existent, with in-store shopping falling more than 52%. This picture of the holiday season has unfortunately been the norm since the beginning of the pandemic as shoppers avoid crowded spaces.
To make up for revenue lost by decreased in-store shopping, retailers have had to find ways to translate that experience. Brands such as Gap and Ralph Lauren have led the charge on this, launching virtual versions of their stores.
But the innovation we’re seeing around customer experience can’t stop with virtual pop-ups. Retailers also need to innovate how they engage with their customers through more traditional marketing channels.
Forrester Research recently reported that they expect consumers will see 40% more texts and emails from their favorite retailers in 2021! This percentage is staggering and could end up detracting from brand affinity.
Sending more emails, text messages, or even direct mail pieces may seem like the easiest and most efficient way to meet targets, but there are much better ways to build relationships with and offer value to your customers.
Consistent, seamless experiences are crucial to customer satisfaction. Have you ever started to browse a retail site on a laptop, only to find a vastly different and more difficult experience when you return to it on your mobile? It’s frustrating and can lead to cart abandonment. In today’s digital world, customers expect better.
This expectation extends beyond user experiences into marketing and discounts as well. I’ve received emails with suggestions of items to purchase, only to click through to the website and discover that the product is sold out.
Consider implementing interactive email technology like AMP Email so that product suggestions sent in emails can be updated in real-time to reflect your inventory.
Discounts are a popular way to attract customers to purchase or increase their cart size. However, the discounts you offer shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. New and loyal customers should have different levels of discounts.
Take Sephora, for example: it has a yearly sale that offers a 10% discount for the lowest tier of their loyalty program, which is free to join. The discount then doubles for loyalty club members that spend the most with them. This approach entices customers to make additional purchases in the future to get to higher loyalty tiers and save more.
Beyond tailoring discounts based on new vs. loyal customers, consider tailoring the discounts to each customer. For example, perhaps you have a customer who consistently shops in-store that has never shopped online.
Consider sending them an email or mobile app push notification with a 10% discount if they buy online and pickup in-store. This can entice the customer to try a new form of shopping and hopefully encourage more repeat purchases.
Tailoring marketing messages can go beyond just segmentation or past purchase behavior. With artificial intelligence and data, retailers can genuinely add value to their customers’ lives by sending relevant messages at the right time.
For example, a shoe store owner knows that a customer is on the way to the store for curbside pickup of a recent purchase. The loyal customer was interested in a pair of out-of-stock winter boots.
The store owner sees that the customer is pulling into the store parking lot, thanks to geolocation technology, and texts the customer to inform her that the shoes she was looking at are now available.
The customer receives the text as she parks and replies that she is interested in getting them. The store owner can add the shoes to the existing order, charge the card on file and bring the purchases out to her car. Thus, delighting the customer and simplifying the purchase process. This highly personal touch can make all the difference when it comes to customer loyalty.
2020 was undoubtedly a challenging year for retail, but 2021 doesn’t have to be. Customer experience was essential to retail success before the pandemic, and it will be even more crucial as the retail industry recovers.
Bridgette Darling is a product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign. In this role, she focuses on marketing and strategy for Campaign’s email marketing capabilities. Darling is passionate about helping email marketers achieve their goals by educating on best practices, advancements in technology, and overall strategy.
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