How to Adapt to the New Customer Journey
To be successful in retail, a business owner must understand the idea of the customer journey and recognize how it is changing. The last year and a half have radically altered the demands and behaviors of the shopping public. Consumer confidence is down; however, consumer spending is up. Now more than ever, it is important to pay attention to what the customer wants to buy and how they want to buy it.
What Is the Customer Journey?
The customer journey is the process a customer follows to complete a goal. In retail, this is usually a purchase. Today, it can involve many moving targets, from social media representation to the “thank you for your business” text they receive after completing a purchase.
EY’s Future Consumer Index finds that 80% of consumers shop differently now than they did before the pandemic. Instead of spending on travel and entertainment, people are spending more on home goods and luxury items. Their shopping modes have changed, too. Instead of ordering online from national stores, many people now shop locally and in person. Others opt for curbside or local home delivery. Shopping from apps may be the most significant transition. Keeping track of these changes in the customer journey is critical to a retailer’s success.
Analyzing and Using Data
Recognizing consumer patterns and behaviors is vital in understanding the new customer journey. Point of Sale technology can help retailers gather and analyze how and when customers buy, and AI and other technologies can help companies figure out why.
Consumers are willing to part with a considerable amount of data to support an integrated, lifestyle-oriented shopping experience. Email addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays are some of the information that can help retailers cater directly to their customer’s needs through technology like targeted emails, direct messaging, and social media.
Customer Expectations are Rising
According to National Retail Federation economist Jack Kleinhenz, most American households “remain in good shape,” consistently spending less than their income. However, their expectations of the companies that serve them have changed significantly, and consumers have come to expect a personalized, seamless experience that reflects their values.
Sustainable and Diverse
The past two years have brought a sea change to consumer standards. Sustainability and DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) are now factors in how and where people choose to spend their money. Even national and international brands acknowledge the shift by changing their marketing and purchasing strategies to reflect these issues. Consumers are now much more likely to apply the standard of their conscience “and seek to support brands that align with their core values,” said Bill Thorne, NRF’s Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. Retailers need to be aware of how this impacts the customer decision cycle in their market.
Safety is the New Standard
Masks, vaccines, and social distancing are just a few of the measures consumers demand from the stores where they shop. In addition to disinfectant stations and frequent cleaning, contactless payment is also becoming standard. Customers want to feel safe in the businesses they frequent and offering them that safety is a great way to show them that you care about their welfare.
Consumers expect to be safe in their online purchases, too. As they become more aware of cybercrime and security breaches, they need to be reassured that their data is safe with you. Your customers want to know that you are protecting their information. Let them know what you are doing to ensure that all their transactions are safe and protected from fraud.
Watch What They Do
Even though social and economic indicators look dire and consumers express deep misgivings about the future, they continue to spend money. Retailers who stay abreast of consumer concerns and adapt their messaging accordingly find successful ways to help their customers complete the customer journey. Listening to the customer and tracking critical economic indicators makes businesses more resilient and ready for the customer journey changes.