Digital transformation is driving changes in various industries, as the number of contact points between customers and brands increased significantly within the last years. People no longer get in touch with a manufacturer or retailer by using one platform over a longer period since the decision for one channel depends largely on their available time and everyday life. How do these changes influence the shopping process and how can retailers prepare for this erratic customer behaviour?

The unpredictable customer

As mentioned previously, the way shoppers use platforms is not only depending on peoples’ different ages and lifestyles any longer. Customers of all types and ages, on the contrary, expect a variety of personalised touchpoints across their journey, as shown by the following example.

Customers are therefore looking for user-generated content before they buy, such as product reviews and photos from other customer, whereby during the buying process people wish a quick and easy checkout across comparison portals, mobile apps, and in-store transactions. The mentioned interfaces clarify the fact that a wide range of channels is often used by just one customer during a single buying process, as they wish to profit from the customer service by using messaging services, FAQ’s, or online communities. To meet these current standards, service must be quick, readily available anywhere, and even proactive.

What does that mean for retailers?

This example of different user touchpoints illustrates the movement away from a static model of customer interfaces towards a more customer-centric concept across a variety of channels. Communication technologies has given customers better access to information and choice, whenever and wherever they want to make purchase decisions, but with more channels, there is another level of complexity, which requires retailers to have a better understanding of the entire customer journey. This means that it is more difficult to have insights from a single channel that are really reflective of what customers are thinking and doing.

Customers judge companies based on their experience as a whole – not just interactions with individual departments – and they expect consistency. For business teams accustomed to owning only one stage of the customer journey, it is a more difficult proposition. Retailers should therefore ask themselves the question if they understand all interactions of their customers. By offering a more compelling service, they can attract new customers that in return observe an increase in revenue.

Takeaways

As mentioned previously, retailers need to have a better understanding of their customers and should rethink their approach. Much has been said about organisational silos and this term exactly underlines what companies should avoid. What really matters:

  • Analysing customer interactions across all platforms
  • Recognising preferred touchpoints and ask yourself the question which factors affect the decision in favour for each interface
  • Using this information to forecast demands as accurately as possible

“We’re never going to fully understand our customers if we look at them through the lens of individual departments within our company.”

Bruce Temkin, chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association