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Guest Blogger

By Kevin Murray, Managing Director, Greenlight Commerce

The current retail environment is tough to navigate for brands. Many retailers are facing challenges when it comes to customer retention, store closures and low revenue. In fact, Greenlight Commerce recently surveyed 100 D2C eCommerce decision makers and found that 42% of respondents are facing challenges when it comes to customer retention.

As customer satisfaction remains the deciding factor on whether customers stay loyal to a brand or not, failing to adapt to customers’ changing needs can mean brands struggle to keep up with their competitors.

However, retailers such as Dunelm seem to be thriving. Despite uncertain customer spending, shares in one of the UK’s leading home furnishing retailers have more than doubled in price over the last year. Dunelm understand the evolving demands of their customers and are adapting their offering to suit their needs as an increasing number of shoppers shift to online retail. This is minimising the gap between customer expectation and user experience, ultimately boosting customer satisfaction.

Adapting to customers

Retailers are responding to turbulent times by adapting how they sell to their customers. Brands are constantly innovating their approaches to suit the demands of the modern customer in an attempt to boost sales and improve customer experience. As a result, an increasing number of retailers are now engaging with customers across a range of communication channels to enable constant contact wherever the consumer may be.

A similar story to Dunelm’s is that of Homebase. The retailer managed to return to profit earlier than predicted in 2019, following a year of financial loss in 2018. Homebase have attributed their success to improvements in both their in-store and digital shopping experiences. An updated eCommerce offering has made it easier for customers to shop online leading to a boost in sales by over 50%. As such, decision makers say they will continue to invest in eCommerce in 2020 as they strive to achieve similar results to last year.

Measuring satisfaction

Yet despite seeing positive steps towards adjusting to changing consumer needs, the question of how brands are measuring customer interactions springs to mind. Constant communication is facilitating the ability to measure operational experiences including the time consumers spend on a website and their purchasing behaviours. But how can retailers truly understand whether customers are satisfied with their experience unless they measure how interactions with their brand makes their customer feel?

With customer experience expected to overtake price and product as a competitive advantage, retailers must begin to measure customer perceptions and behaviours towards their brand. Only then, will retailers understand where customer satisfaction lies and where they need to modify their approach to improve this.

In fact, a recent study found that 80% of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. Clearly there is a big gap between how well companies think they perform and how well they actually do. To reduce this disparity, brands must tailor their approach to focus on the customer experience and ensure they use the right metrics to monitor how customers feel when they interact with the brand.

Know your customers

Direct contact between brand and consumer, allows retailers to realise what customers expect from their brand and adjust their eCommerce offering accordingly. Changing consumer attitudes mean brands need to ensure their customer needs are their priority and continue to make small changes to their strategy to ensure they meet them. This way, retailers will be able to follow in the steps of Dunelm and Homebase and meet customer expectations, increase trust and consumer loyalty, and ensure that shoppers continue to return to their brand.

The key to surviving and staying relevant in a tough commercial environment is not necessarily employing the latest technology or making drastic changes to the brand’s current digital strategy. Fully understanding, adapting and catering to customer needs is, instead, the secret to remaining successful.

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