5 Retail Customer Experience Predictions for 2014

There are few industries that have undergone such transformation lately as retail. What used to be a simple idea of selling goods to consumers in stores is now a multichannel experience including store, mobile devices, online marketplaces and more.

The customer experience is one of constant change. And customers are expecting retailers to keep up, regardless of the channel.

Here are a few things we might get to see in 2014.

Frustration-free Is the new luxury


Creating frictionless ease for customers is the true target. Customers are willing to seek out and pay more for these types of experiences. Amazon Prime is one example of how removing the pain of individually paying for each shipping transaction led to an increase in customers and good will! To top that off, parents like me love the “frustration-free packaging” offered with certain toys from Amazon. It’s a simple way to deliver an exceptional experience.

Personalization should drill down to device


It’s been shown that in the travel industry, the difference in purchases via mobile and web is pretty striking. According to Maxymiser’s research, 48% of desktop/laptop users bought multiple travel packages compared to the way 77% of mobile users, who purchased a single travel product. Apply this to retail and you can see why it might be easier to select and compare many items on a desktop v. a tiny phone screen. So what can retailers do to make it this personalized? Understanding the ways shoppers use their mobile devices and helping them in those key moments is a big step forward.

In-store experience should not stand alone


Customers are not in-store or on mobile exclusively. We are everywhere. Creating different experiences for in-store returns v. online is a thing of the past. And we are beyond acting like customers aren’t using their mobile devices to check prices online, aren’t we? Help your customers connect the dots from virtual to IRL by promoting how they’re already interacting. Target started a trend here by highlighting the “Most Pinned from Pinterest” products in their stores. Retailers of all sizes should start getting creative about ways to help shoppers feel connected in more than one space.

Social complaints must cause change


The bullhorn of social media allows customers to complain loudly. While much of the talk in 2013 has been about how to “control and contain” the aftermath of social disasters, 2014 should be about failing forward. If customers are complaining via social media, the best retailers will take a look at their own processes and make changes fast. That means the internal workings of the retailer need to be dynamic, flexible and pretty darn flat. It’s hard to make a change if your own people have to jump through hoops to get the right team to listen.

No more big launches…Of anything


Customers don’t care about marketing. They don’t care about big, splashy advertising campaigns that announce a new logo. They care about how they are treated. If they feel pushed around or manipulated, no amount of big store revamps (ahem, JCPenney) or new logos (Yahoo) is going to make it all better. It’s time to roll things out in real time, with the help and wisdom of your customers.

2014 Is Made For Bravery


Retailers used to rely on advertising, in-store experience and simple brand prestige. Now, they must rely on savvy experience across many devices and channels. 2014 is sure to bring out the best. How creative will you get?

Jeannie Walters is CEO at 360Connext.

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