As retailers and brand marketers battle through COVID’s impact on consumer behavior, new research from customer journey orchestration and analytics firm Kitewheel explores key trends in the retail industry, providing recommendations on how brands can make the most of an evolving retail landscape.
Findings from the company’s first annual State of the Retail Industry report reveal that consumers are ready to shop and spend, but they have new expectations and approaches—and now more than ever, digital customer experience (CX) must be flawless. The analysis emphasizes the continued and heightened importance of customer journey orchestration in order to perfect CX.
The fact is, CX has surpassed product quality and price as the most important differentiator for customer satisfaction. Personalized experiences are also essential: according to a recent industry report, 63 percent of consumers are willing to give data in exchange for more personalized experiences, and 80 consumers are more likely to spend when they experience a personalized journey. The data is clear: by simultaneously streamlining and personalizing the customer journey, brands can gain and retain customer trust, engagement, and loyalty.
The report also examines how consumers’ habits have been broken and reshaped during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 8,300 stores closed in 2020, and a recent survey found that only 28 percent of consumers plan to increase in-store shopping in the next six months. In short, customers have largely accepted the move away from brick-and-mortar shops and will continue to primarily pursue e-commerce shopping methods. This can be attributed to new habits, safety precautions, and added convenience. Consumers have also shed brand loyalty, with three of four having tried new brands in 2020.
Best approach for 2021
This research provides a clear look at the rapidly fluctuating retail landscape, while identifying strategies for brands to both attract new customers and retain those likely to ‘defect’ to competitors. In response to all the changes in 2020, it will be more important than ever for brands to maximize engagement with a customized digital marketing strategy that incorporates intelligent ads, personalized email communication, and user-friendly mobile experiences.
“Journey orchestration is the glue that holds a brand’s customer experience together,” said Mark Smith, president of Kitewheel, in a news release. “Customers are in a different place than they were in 2019, and brands need to tackle these seismic shifts head-on in order to meet and support customers where they are. Without bold changes to customer experience, brands will struggle to keep up in 2021.”
Kitewheel developed this report drawing from industry news and studies from 2020, as well as insights drawn from its work with customers throughout the retail space.