Harnessing the power of the experience factor

It’s not easy meeting customer demands in the “here and now.” They expect to be able to interact with you anytime, and have access to self-service and in-store help simultaneously. That’s the “Now Factor.”

But, let’s say you give it to them “now” – is that enough? Probably not, because what if the experience is crummy? That’s where the “Experience Factor” is just as important – digital technologies and solutions that help merchants cater to the customer. It involves providing a more personalized shopping experience that is consistent across channels. Let’s take a look.

A more personalized shopping experience

Technology that is being used for personal use is a growing focus for retailers and technology experts everywhere. The introduction of technology first impressed us by its ability to make our lives easier. Now, that’s not enough, and we are relying on technology to cater to our unique needs. In order to tap into the Experience Factor, merchants need to provide a personalized shopping experience.

One way is by recommending products and services based on preferences. Keeping track of preferences before the dawn of digital meant knowing that some of your customers will walk into your butcher shop on Fridays and ask for fish. Now, merchants of all sizes have technology at their disposal to record preferences such as taste, size, style, brand, and more.

Another way to personalize the shopping experience is by recommending products based on past purchases or similar items. Amazon® and other online book sellers do this extremely well, by recommending future purchases based on past purchases or items that are similar. It even suggests items based on viewing history.

Whether your business is large or small, brick-and-mortar or ecommerce (or both), providing a personalized shopping experience is essential. When you offer busy consumers a hassle-free and relevant experience, it increases the chances they will return to your business again and again.

A consistent experience across channels

With the proliferation of digital and mobile technologies, offering a seamless multichannel approach is vital to retain customers and gain new ones. Consumers often use multiple shopping channels to make a purchase decision. For example, they may view items in-store prior to buying online, known as “showrooming,” or they may research items online prior to purchasing in-store, known as “webrooming.” No matter the process, consumers are in the middle of making an active decision, and they expect the information to be consistent across channels. If it’s not, you can lose the business.

The same concept applies when it comes to comparing purchases online versus on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. A website that is not “responsive,” meaning not configured to convert back and forth from a mobile device to a desktop, can give the user a reason to choose to purchase elsewhere.

Just because the mobile channel is rapidly growing doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take all channels to satisfy a customer. Legacy channels like brick-and-mortar, may always be important, and shouldn’t be forgotten. For example, almost 80 percent of mobile searches end in a purchase, with 75 percent occurring in-store. The trick is balancing the demand between the two and providing a seamless, consistent experience across all channels.

Experience matters

We’ve all had positive and negative shopping experiences that makes us feel either good or bad. The feeling translates into a perception of the brand, business or salesperson. That perception shapes our future actions on why we shop, where we shop, and what we buy.

One channel is not enough; consumers want various channels and different purchase experiences. Merchants must integrate payment acceptance and processing capabilities seamlessly, to deliver the right experience at the right time.