In retail, it should not be a question of pitting online and offline against each other. Rather, stationary retail should serve both channels and exploit the potential of digitization in order to be crisis-proof and successful in the long term.Dr. Bernhard Rohleder, Chief Executive Officer of the Digital Association Bitkom
Customer requirements for retail
If brick-and-mortar retailers forgo digital concepts, their customers could eventually turn away. After all, online shopping is convenient and offers fast fulfillment, a personalized shopping experience, and comprehensive product information. In addition, retailers are confronted with changing customer behavior. Knowing customers, adapting processes to their expectations, staying in touch with customers across many channels, and the optimal customer experience as the goal - in this context, retailers face a major challenge with the expectations placed on them.
In recent years, customer expectations have primarily revolved around quality of service and attractive pricing. Over time, these expectations have continued to grow. Now, customers are looking for proactive service, personalized interactions, and connected experiences across all channels. The new customer expectations have by no means replaced the old ones, they have complemented them. Not least because traditional shopping can no longer be divided into online and offline. The digital world has long been an integral part of our world, and so customers also see digital tools as an indispensable part of the shopping experience and expect stationary retail to be digitally equipped. According to the latest survey by Adyen, 40% of customers say they are more likely to shop at retailers that use technology to improve the shopping experience.
But what is an improvement in the shopping experience?
Enabling customers to shop quickly, efficiently and flexibly. For retailers, it is therefore important to take a look at the current trends and wishes of customers.
The wish of customers
- Seamless, cross-channel shopping experiences: Selling across multiple communication channels has emerged as one of the most important trends. According to the Retail Report 2022, 60% of customers want flexible cross-channel shopping experiences in the future. This shopping preference offers retailers new opportunities for customer loyalty.
- Innovative loyalty programs: More than half of customers believe retailers should use technology to make their loyalty programs easier and more effective. However, only a few retailers are leveraging the potential of the customer experience.
- More convenience through innovative payment methods: The trend toward innovative payment options continues. Retailers also benefit from faster transaction times and shorter queues, as well as greater hygiene and increased security. The added value of "time savings" has the highest priority for customers when choosing a payment option. The issue of payment data is also not unattractive to customers. 47% of the customers surveyed prefer retailers who remember their preferences and previous shopping behavior in order to offer them a tailored shopping experience. This opportunity should be seized.
What to do now?
If you want to effectively accompany your customers on their entire shopping journey, you have to know their behavior well. After all, customers don't necessarily choose between brick-and-mortar and online shopping. Rather, they buy where they are offered the greatest added value. Retailers must therefore find new ways to inspire their customers. In doing so, they should focus on the unique experiences they can offer their customers in retail and how they can connect their physical and digital spaces. To do this, retailers must upgrade with digital solutions and be able to offer real added value compared to online shopping. The basis for this is digital tools, with the customer at the center. Since customers today are primarily mobile, cross-channel communication and comprehensive in-app offers can be the first step. Many retailers therefore already rely on customized mobile apps that integrate all areas of the customer's experience, both online and offline. For example, by integrating the smartphone directly into the shopping experience, it enables customers to interact digitally and thus directly enhances the retail shopping experience. From reducing queues using mobile payment systems to developing a memorable shopping experience, innovative opportunities can be exploited.
Closing the expectation gap
Digital transformation continues to be an important buzzword and right now it is more within reach than ever. While customers continue to drive innovation and flexibility, retailers are simultaneously expected not only to keep up, but also to actively shape the future of retail. So those who seize the opportunities of digitization to optimize retail will not only reward customers with a seamless shopping experience across online and offline platforms, but also reward themselves with increased retail sales.