Product and Price Step Aside, Personalization is King

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Retailers can no longer depend on price and product quality to entice customers. Future success depends on retailers' abilities to enable omnichannel experience.

When shoppers walk into their favorite retailer's brick-and-mortar location, they're no longer limited to the items on the shelves. Those with smartphones also carry the products and pricing information of competitors across the Web. But, just as technology continues to evolve, so must the brand's relationship with its customers, for today's consumers have limitless options at their fingertips.

TimeTrade's "Retail Industry Executive Survey" explores the current retail landscape. Conducted on-site at the 2013 Future Stores Conference, the study examines how 61 retail executives and leaders are adapting to meet the personalized demands of the connected consumer and create experiences that both delight customers and incite continued loyalty. The following statistics demonstrate that, while price and quality certainly impact the purchase process, these two elements no longer hold the power they once did:

  • Sixty percent of retailers are missing a personalized customer experience, while 20 percent say their strategy lacks knowledgeable employees, and 10 percent need better or faster service.
  • Whether online or in-store, 80 percent of respondents believe sales increase by 25-50 percent when customers are assisted by knowledgeable employees. Therefore, companies are investing in employee training and technology in order to arm their workforce with the tools for success.
  • While 70 percent of those polled report that consumers will only wait five minutes or less before abandoning their purchases, 75 percent attribute customer loss to wait-related issues.
  • On a scale from 0-10, retailers rated their omnichannel effectiveness at 5.25 out of 10, indicating the need to develop strategies that better link their company's physical and digital presence.
  • Though retailers declare that 83 percent of their 2013 revenue comes from in-store purchases, those polled believe online purchases will rise to 22 percent of total sales by 2014.
  • Fifty-two percent of respondents believe improving the in-store customer experience is the best way to combat showrooming, while 16 percent aim to make it easier for shoppers to quickly find and purchase products from their mobile devices while in-store to prevent attrition.

Key takeaway: Because retailers can no longer depend on price and product quality to entice customers, leaders must quickly improve the customer experience. Personalization has become the primary differentiator in today's competitive market, for this measure appeases the consumer's growing service expectations. Future success, however, lies within retailers' abilities to build and maintain the brand's physical and digital presence as they work to enable an omnichannel experience. While most now view showrooming as an opportunity to extend the customer relationship, retailers must also ensure that their digital offerings enhance the customer experience by informing, educating, and promoting physical store sales. Just as businesses continuously aim to develop a single view of the customer, consumers also seek a holistic experience that encompasses all their preferred channels. By tapping into what customers want, retailers can effectively deliver what these shoppers need.