As business conditions for physical retailers in North America continue to create challenges and deliver weak revenue growth, Customer Experience (CX) is increasingly seen as an opportunity to drive better business performance. A competitive advantage in CX clearly delivers business results. According to a 2014 report from Forrester, retailers with leading CX see a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17% over five years, compared to 3% for those whose CX performance lags behind their competitors.
According to dunnhumby, a world leader in customer science, Customer Experience is made up of 6 components:
Building relationships with shoppers through personalized communications and two-way dialogue.
Assortment available online or offline, store layout and design, and customer service.
Simple promotions that are easy to understand and use that drive strong value perceptions and have the ability to surprise and delight.
Loyalty programs that have rewards that are easy to access and are relevant to the shopper.
Value for Money
Deliver better value than competitors at the right price point.
Straightforward to shop with ease of access from home or work.
Emotional engagement with the retailer who shares the values of the shopper.
In Spring 2017, the Journal of Shopper Marketing published research on the relationship between Customer Experience and financial performance in the grocery market. Like many studies, it found a strong relationship between the customer experience of grocers and their financial performance. However, not all of the components performed equally.
This table shows that for retailers, building a brand that engages its target shoppers should be a key component of marketing strategy, and the rewards for both branding and building an exceptional in-store experience are key to delivering financial results.
However, branding should not be the only strategy pursued by retailers. From the study, those brands that deliver exceptional performance typically outperform other retailers on at least 3 pillars. Rather, building exceptional customer experience should be focused on executing across a few attributes, and those attributes should be those that resonate most strongly with your target shoppers.
Further, the study also provides examples of value retailers who deliver high performing CX through a laser sharp focus on delivering exceptional value and a low price point. By excelling in the areas of competitive strength, they are able to deliver superior Customer Experience to their shoppers.
To deliver superior customer experience, retailers need to understand and evaluate opportunities, evaluate their competitive landscape, and identify gaps and opportunities to strongly differentiate from their competitors in the ways that matter most to their target shoppers. In addition, delivering an in-store experience that engages with shopper emotions is not only likely to improve the retail experience, it will also elevate brand affinity.