Online consumers and B2B purchasers are becoming increasingly tech savvy and are demanding much more from retailers. To be successful in today’s global marketplace, merchants need to seriously rethink their online strategy.
According to PriceWaterhouseCooper’s 2016 Total Retail report, online retailers are likely to experience a dramatic drop in sales if they fail to rise to buyers’ increasing demands. As online consumers have become more tech savvy, their expectations have dramatically changed, leaving many of the more traditional retailers struggling to keep up.
In today’s contemporary networked world, customer experience is everything. Customers can search the Internet to compare hundreds of products from hundreds of providers. It is the merchants who offer a personalised, bespoke experience that now stand out from the crowd. Customers need to feel valued and understood. As such, it is the retailers that tailor their user experience and product suggestions to each individual customer that will reign supreme.
According to PwC’s latest Total Retail report, consumers and B2B customers are no longer prepared to accept a genetic user experience; they want merchants to speak directly to them and offer them exactly what they need. PwC concludes their research by recommending that retailers develop and implement consumer-centric solutions and customer experiences.
While the task that lays ahead for retailers to rise to increasing demands may initially appear colossal, there are some simple measures merchants can take to progress their systems from generic, one-size-fits-all retail processes to bespoke operations that make consumers feel valued.
Delivering Personalised Customer Offers That are Aligned with Consumer Needs
The “build it and they will come” philosophy no longer cuts mustard with contemporary customers and simply offering a product for sale online is just not enough to stand out in what may already be a saturated market. According to the Total Retail report, brands need to focus their marketing and customer experiences around a core set of values that are ingrained throughout the value chain.
Less is more. The report suggests that retailers should dramatically reduce their product catalogues to offer a more seamless array of choices that are curated to the needs of their target consumer. Through limiting offerings to core options that the consumer values, merchants can reduce the risk of buyers becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of generic products that are available.
Tactical curation of product catalogues naturally enhances a retailer’s ability to deliver personalised shopping experiences, offers, and customer interactions. In addition to making the purchase process simpler and potentially eliminating any purchaser decision fatigue, marketing efforts can be more readily focused on advertising the right products to the right market. However, to achieve this, merchants have to start with a solid research and data gathering strategy through which they develop solid insights into exactly what their target market want.
Unfortunately, it is not enough to simply offer more personalised product catalogues. Consumers continue to seek competitive pricing; as such, the price also needs to be right. According to PwC, buyers want the biggest bang for their buck, and if they feel a retailer isn’t offering them a great deal, they will start shopping elsewhere at the earliest opportunity. In fact, the findings of the 2016 Total Retail report revealed that as many as 66% of online buyers would switch retailers without a second thought if they felt there were better deals to be had elsewhere.
Retailers are under more pressure than ever to balance quality and tailored experiences and products with affordability. To successfully achieve this, retailers need to have robust data gathering systems in place that translate the information they gather from visitors to their site during the engagement process into relevant product offers and customer incentives that speak directly to individual customers.
PwC’s findings in this area are aligned with those of a 2015 survey that was conducted by Coupons.com that found that in excess of 70% of Gen Y shoppers are attracted to offers that are personalised specifically to them.
The long shot?
Online retailers have to give their consumers what they want via personalised offers and deals.
1. Collect and analyse customer data.
Data mining holds significant potential and can help retailers to build robust insights into their customer’s buying habits, history, and preferences. Valid data can be gathered at the point of sale or during the registration process.
2. Implement comprehensive email marketing campaigns.
Once retailers have gathered customer data and email addresses, they should use this information to deliver targeted email campaigns and personalised offers. Email subscription management software, like MailChimp and Dotmailer, can be employed to create and manage subscriber and customer lists, and to manage segments according to factors such as gender, location, and purchase history, before tailored emails containing promotions that are specifically targeted at each segment are distributed.
3. Be prepared to negotiate on price.
As previously described, buyers are price sensitive. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean retailers should fight with one another to offer the lowest price. Merchants should focus on achieving the right balance between customer experience, quality and value. When competitors do start to price aggressively, instead of scraping the web for the latest pricing information, give consumers an opportunity to request a price match or send them personalised offers that offer both lower prices and added value. Examples of providers that offer price management functionality include Propoza (multiple e-commerce platforms) and Cart2Quote (Magento).
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