Frankly speaking, online shopping has not only changed the way we buy, it has drastically changed the relationship between retailers and their customers.
Hard to imagine, but one day a long, long time ago people went into local brick-and-mortar stores and had real conversations with the sales associates. Through these conversations, retailers could learn a lot about their customers – their likes, their dislikes, who their friends and significant others were, big events going on in their lives (like birthdays and anniversaries), and more.
They were kinda, well, friends.
Customers would actually ASK the sales associate to call them when the new products they would like arrived. Customers trusted retailers and valued their recommendations.
In the good old days, the retailer was empowered to help their customers buy for others (BFO), because they knew their customers and they knew who needed to buy for whom and when.
The retailer would pick up the phone and call someone’s husband to let him know they just got a necklace that his wife would love…oh and to remind him that their anniversary is coming up in 5 days.
And what would the husband do? Trust them. Buy from them. Tell them to wrap it up before he even sees it, because he knew how much his wife loved the previous purchases he made with this awesome guidance.
Customers’ relationships with retailers are different today; instead of being best buds with a few local retailers, they are acquaintances. People don’t shop in the same ole store in town, they shop in A LOT of different places and all around the world! Our options have expanded dramatically! …But so have our expectations.
Today’s expectations vs. reality
Customers expect the same level of personalization they used to have with their local brick-and-mortar store. They expect the retailer to know their name, what they like, what they are shopping for, what they need and in the size they need it, the colors that match their living room, the material they prefer, the price range they can afford, the shipping/pick-up options they find most convenient, and so many other tiny details.
And guess what? They still want your help to find what to buy for their friends, family and significant others like they used to in the good old days!
Except …these customers have never actually had a real conversation with you, met you face to face, or told you what they like (or what their best friends like).
Studies say that 56% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer that recognizes them by name, and 58% are more likely to make a purchase when the retailer recommends options for them based on their preferences (Chain Store Age).
But the reality is that retailers’ personalization efforts are not working like they should. We know you are trying so hard, but who said it was going to be easy? The Harvard Business Review states that customers are frequently frustrated by companies’ inability to meet their relationship expectations.
Some retailers, like you, may have attempted to use a digital, self-service tool to combine customers’ online engagement with their in-store experience. It’s called omnichannel or multichannel. But the IBM 2017 Customer Experience Index Study indicates that even this technique is falling behind the customers’ expectations. Only 19% of brands offer more than a basic personalization online experience, and they suggest brands apply new technologies to meet the customers’ personalization demands.
In order to gain that trust that customers used to have in the sales associate in the good old days, retailers need to build meaningful relationships with their customers. In the era of e-commerce it may sound impossible to get to know your customers without any direct or face-to-face interactions, or without spending A LOT of time and effort.
But, hey, don’t panic. Dearduck has the secret to do this! Read our tips to build meaningful relationships and make your customers feel like the luckiest people on earth!