Why an omni-channel experience is key for retail customers

BY Australian Retailers Association
04 November 2018

Building personalised experiences will differentiate your brand from your competitors.

For Australian retailers, the vital need to provide customer experiences that differentiate from competitors comes amidst a challenging backdrop. According to Roy Morgan, consumer confidence has slipped as households worry about high debt levels, low wages growth and higher energy costs.

The question then is, how can retailers capture the available growth while consumer confidence is low? By building experiences that maximise positive influence on the customer at every digital and physical touchpoint, and are personalised to their needs.

According to the 2017 SAP Australian Digital Experience Report, Australian retailers are improving when it comes to positive experiences, but consumers clearly feel businesses could be doing better. Digital experience is a lead indicator of customer experience and overall scores still sit in negative territory. While progress is being made, there is still a huge opportunity for early movers who get it right.

The key is to focus on doing the basics well - ensuring the experience online, in-store and through call centres is delivered well. Customers are less interested in having a broad range of channels if the ones they have don’t provide as expected, including experiences connected to your brand that you don’t directly control, such as the delivery of goods.

Not only do these essential channels – mobile, store fronts, shop assistants, customer service and delivery – need to be optimised, but they must work together to build seamless, consistent and personalised omni-channel experiences.

And yet we see local retailers panicking about global competition rather than focusing on what they can control. If they would only concentrate on meeting the needs of their existing customers, then perhaps these shoppers would be less inclined to look elsewhere.

There are many examples of retailers out there who have got the message and provide an exceptional experience. Australian brands such as AESOP, Lorna Jane and General Pants are players who have found a niche, developed their brand and focused on delivering quality interactions within the local market.

These brands resonate with a specific audience and are delivering a great differentiated experience. They seem to have understood that focusing on a few channels and doing them well is the secret to clear and consistent customer engagement with their brand.

So, what is the difference between those who have the mix right and those who need to improve? Focusing on your customers and creating memorable experiences that relate to their needs seems to be the secret sauce.

Customers are judging the value of your brand from the first engagement to the final transaction, so ensuring that customers receive the value they expect is key. Much like a great dining experience, it is every interaction that counts: from the welcome to the farewell, even down to the time it takes to get the bill. Everything needs to be personalised and considered.

Great customer experience isn’t a switch that can be flipped. But by working on the basics and forging personalised, omni-channel connections with customers, retailers can weather the changes in the industry. Simply put, it’s about building and serving great customer experience.

Stuart O’Neill is Head of SAP Hybris Australia and New Zealand. SAP Hybris is a digital commerce software, creating relationships between businesses and their customers. Learn more at hybris.com

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Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $320 billion sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating, and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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