The Changing Landscape of Shopper Behavior

Women using her phone in front store

March 30, 2018

As the retail landscape continues to evolve in line with changing shopper behavior, a significant shift in strategy needs to occur on the part of retailers. Meeting shopper expectations in terms of communication, mobile access, and customer service delivery is imperative to maintain a competitive edge and to ensure needs are being met.

Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are now commonplace. One study suggests that almost 80 percent of shoppers make use of messaging apps, live chat, or voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to enhance their shopping experience.

Retailers who are embracing these strategies are not only giving themselves a competitive edge, they are gaining priceless knowledge about their consumer base along the way.

It’s about giving shoppers what they want

Today, even for established legacy brands, it’s a matter of giving the consumer what they want. Current technology enables this shift in ways that have already established a new paradigm in the retail sphere.

For instance …

People shop 24/7, but we don’t serve customers 24/7

eCommerce, mCommerce, AI, chat bots, and help that is always available supports consumers in shopping their way. Companies that answer this need are viewed as customer-centric, which adds to the customer experience and overall brand impressions. It’s a matter of “This company knows what I want, this brand is for me.”

“I want to communicate my way”

Consumers differ wildly on how they prefer to receive communications. Studies show that email is the overwhelming preference for order updates, customer service issues, and product recommendation – well over 80 percent of consumers in the survey stated this preference over text messaging and push notifications.

93 percent stated that it was easier to find and refer back to emails at a later time if they needed to, but 38 percent agreed that they wanted to have access to multiple methods of contact. Being able to provide a range of communication channels will assure that your customers are being served according to their wishes.

Self-service is important, but the human touch needs to be there too

The overwhelming majority of shoppers prefer to find answers to their questions themselves. This means having access to comprehensive product descriptions and product reviews on either a desktop or mobile site. If you think that this is a largely a millennial or Gen Y issue, consider that 73 percent of shoppers over the age of 60 share this sentiment.

Having a website and mobile site that is complete, comprehensive, and easy to navigate is key. If their problems can’t be solved through their own efforts, the next point of contact is to speak to live person – a point that just about every demographic will agree on.

Humans will never be completely obsolete in retail

AI and bots are more mainstream today, but consumers across all demographics express mixed feelings. To solve complex issues or deal with high-value purchases, having a human available to answer questions likely always will be a necessity.

In conclusion, offering a mix of communication channels will serve you and your customers better in the end. Answering their needs in a way that supports the way they want to be served and heard is key – and always within reach.

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