Imagine the impact on the brand when consumers receive exceptional retail CX at one point of their shopping journey (say online purchase)… only to be let down in another (say in-store pickups or returns/exchange)?
Consumer behavior & expectations are constantly evolving; and so too are retailers who are undergoing significant transformation on multiple fronts such as D2C services, loyalty programs, hybrid frictionless shopping platforms and… Customer Experience (CX) amongst others
This first segment briefly introduces holistic retail CX (customer experience) program and outlines its correlation to product & brand experience as it pertains to today’s omni-channel retailers
Quick note: Despite some similarities inherent to the industry, each retailer brand is relatively unique (geographic presence, product mix, service offerings, strategic goals, industry partnerships, et al.) and as such their broader retail strategies & CX programs will be reflective of their individual goals & capabilities
State of Play & Challenges
For long, physical retail formats ruled and traditional retailers focused solely on developing various CX & customer engagement strategies for this sole (physical) channel
Fast forward to today… and many of these very traditional retailers are striving hard to survive & even succeed against an onslaught of relatively new digital–first entrants; thus setting off a flurry of omni-channel retail transformations across the industry
Depending on retailer type & capabilities, the brand may choose to independently develop each of their channel’s ‘CX profile’‘; complete with its own set of shopper acquisition and customer engagement & retention initiatives
Notable challenges in maintaining an omni-channel footprint are efficiently managing multiple & complex (cross channel) shopper/customer engagements as well as preventing potential CX fragmentation
Any cross channel CX fragmentation (think: distinct variations in online vs. in-store vs. phone processes, policies, support, service, et al.) experienced by the consumer through their shopping journey may negatively impact the overall brand experience
Enter holistic retail CX program
One way retailers can address these challenges is by developing a holistic retail CX program that unifies all of their channel specific CX initiatives seamlessly at every one of the consumer touch points that traverses the retailer’s omni-channel footprints
What is holistic retail CX program?
Simply put; developing a holistic retail CX program ensures that all individual channel-specific CX initiatives are seamlessly merged to provide a unified shopping experience… regardless of the sales channel of origin, transaction or conclusion
Seems simple… but in fact there are a multitude of strategic & tactical initiatives (consumer facing & back-end) that would go into making holistic CX program a long term success for the retail brand [explored in forthcoming segments]
What is its correlation to product & brand experience?
Each retail brand can have their own interpretation of brand, product and shopping experience, but in the context of a typical omni-channel retail brand –
Holistic retail CX can be viewed as a subset of the overall brand experience pertaining specifically to retail experience derived by shoppers & customers through their omni-channel shopping journey, interaction & activities
For a typical omni-channel retailer, holistic retail CX would have a significant influence over the retailer’s overall brand experience
Product experience is another subset of the overall brand experience and is derived by consumers from their interaction with the brand’s products (tangible / intangible) – own branded – but can also extend to the perception of the brand’s overall product range (think: premium, cheap & cheerful, value, et al.) as well as in some cases products from other manufacturers
Product CX may have varying degrees of influence over the retailer’s overall brand experience; which would depend on factors such as retailer type, product categories, et al.
Brand experience can be typically be interpreted as the sum of all experiences derived by consumers pertaining to the brand; which could be influenced by permutation of holistic CX program, marketing/messaging, product experience (particularly for retailers developing their own branded SKUs), services experience and ’cause alignment’ (think: environmental, social, et al.) amongst others
Depending on the retailer type, the distinction between brand, product and holistic retail CX could either be prominent (think: department stores) or relatively subtle (think: small online-only single SaaS vendor)
Needless to say that omni-channel retailers would benefit immensely by ensuring consumers have access to the right product & support through the apt channel(s) at anytime and/or all times and is accompanied by exceptional CX
For shoppers & customers engaging with the brand, holistic retail CX program ensures they receive a more consistent (even personalized) experience throughout their shopping journey
For retail brands, developing a holistic retail CX program that seamlessly unifies each of their individual channel specific CX solutions would not only aid in better shopper acquisition, customer retention / satisfaction & ongoing engagement (read: optimized CRM) but also better bottom lines in the long run
Forthcoming segments will explore why building a holistic CX program matters for today’s omni-channel retailers as well as some of the key strategic & tactical initiatives that contribute towards an exceptional holistic CX and correlation to building a robust CRM program