A quality consumer experience means everything.  As consumers, we often don't think about the importance of a great consumer experience.  As businesses, it is everything we should be thinking about.  Isn't it all about the customer?  Recently, an article by PSFK outlined some of the takeaways from the retail conference. The findings are in line with a recent interview with Virgin Atlantic’s SVP for Marketing and Customer Service, Reuben Arnold. Reuben said that the technology is not the focus, though in this digital age, you would think that's false. But as always, as any good marketer or business person knows, it should be all about the customer.

Designing The Consumer Experience For Shoppers

“Not a lot has happened in retail, but the consumer has changed,” Keith Mercier, Worldwide Retail Leader at IBM Watson said during his presentation at the Future of Retail 2016 NYC.

“The most important thing for me is we never start from a point of saying, how can we use this cool piece of tech?” It always starts with, “what’s the customer issue that we’re trying to resolve?”

In a world where Digital, IoT, Cloud, Mobile and Analytics have taken over conversations and dominated the thinking of businesses striving to disrupt and evolve, I believe it presents an opportunity to those businesses who put the customer first (and employees!) as a strategy that will work no matter the latest trend, buzzword or disruptive technology. Focus on the customer, do what's right, and offer something of great value and good things will happen.

Consumer Experience | Tips

  1. Create Confidence – Brands must provide shoppers with the tools and advice to help them discover new products and choose the option best suited to their lifestyles and needs. From Samsung’s cellphone test-driving to Lululemon’s tapping into basic sensations, building shopper confidence means unabashed access to what you’re selling.
  2. Eliminate Obstacles – A first-time shopper won’t follow a brand far down the purchase path rabbit hole. One-in-three smartphone users have purchased from a company other than the one they intended because that opportunity was in the right place at the right time. In this section, we explore how major retailers like Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and Starbucks create seamless transactions.
  3. Democratize Access – In years past, a stylist or personal assistant was reserved for an elite class, but today the option of a hand-selected wardrobe or floral delivery is an algorithm away. The best brands connect customers to one-on-one recommendations or put enthusiasts on the front rows of exclusive events using virtual reality. It’s equal-opportunity luxury.
  4. Recognize & Personalize – Like walking into a coffee shop where baristas already know your order, welcoming back loyal customers—or predicting and personalizing the experiences of first-timers—makes any consumer feel unique and appreciated. Put systems in place for remembering and acting on consumers purchase history and preference, and tailor those experiences over time.
  5. Promote Transparency – Customers are increasingly concerned with how their dollars are put to good use, and how their purchases make them feel at the end of the production chain. With 81% of millennials looking for brands that tell the full story of their products, transparency in intent and execution makes a product stand out. American Eagle’s refusal to retouch models, Walgreens’ rewards for healthy behaviors, and more are forging social good examples for others to follow.
  6. Perfect Partnerships – Two is better than one…if you do it right. Combining forces with like-minded companies, such as Uber and Shopify’s same-day delivery service or AllRecipes and Instacart’s effortless grocery shopping, can turn two strong brands into a powerful purchasing force. Marry into your fellow brand’s loyal base, and start building a bigger family.
  7. Optimize Ownership – Just as transparency and confidence-building encourage clientele to come back, customers crave responsive support networks for what they’re invested in. Smartphones and an always-connected lifestyle make support like Fountain’s AI experts or Everlane’s weather-based style guides possible.
  8. Cultivate Community – Customers don’t just want to connect with a brand, they want to opt into a community. Create opportunities for consumers and fans to come together around the halo of a brand in ways a single product can’t reach.
  9. Encourage Advocacy – The power of a personal recommendation is a brand’s biggest influence. Turn customers into brand advocates, with rewards and incentives for doing so. Seventy-nine percent of consumers spread the word about a positive experience already; major brands have re-imagined how to push the word-of-mouth phenomenon even farther.
  10. Deliver Delight – That combination of the perfect and unexpected can re-energize existing relationships. Going beyond an exchange of cash for goods and providing perks can build on the broader brand promise. Efforts like Nike’s “secret gym” and Kenneth Cole’s open-anytime offer tie a specialness to your products that they’ll want to share.

Next Steps

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