Amidst the perennial challenges of the 2023 holiday shopping, retailers face a new imperative this year: retaining loyal customers.
The bar is set high, with shoppers demanding personalized communication, seamless shopping experiences, and swift customer service. With profit margins tightening, retailers must find ways to boost revenue and cut costs simultaneously. The solution for this holiday season lies in activating an arsenal of data-driven tools to enhance the overall customer journey, optimize operations, and boost productivity.
The 2023 Omnichannel Retail Index (ORI) by OSF Digital is a multi-year study of commerce trends through mystery shopping and benchmarking a representative set of brands and retailers, revealing the latest findings on omnichannel and digital best practices. By acting on this data, you can craft unique, value-driven retail experiences that retain existing customers and entice new ones, especially during this busy holiday season and beyond.
1-Are you ensuring customer preferences are a priority?
This year’s Index results show shoppers expect and demand strong content, the ability to shop on numerous digital and social channels, and manage their personal preferences, allowing them to specify communications frequency.
The study shows that 58% of brands allow customers to select their preferred method of communication (email, SMS, direct mail); 30% save the information from completing a quiz or other guided navigation to an account, but only 25% allow shoppers to create an account during or after the checkout process if they checkout as a guest.
Additionally, while 72% offer options to manage personal preferences, only 33% offer an incentive for SMS signup, and only 34% allow shoppers to specify communication frequency. When creating relevant customer experiences, you should start with preferences for better engagement and conversion.
2-Are you leveraging user data to build stronger content to deliver personalized customer experiences?
Holiday shoppers expect more personalized experiences, and brands banking on increasing conversions through increased relevance must focus on personalization. Product recommendations, increasing relevance for shoppers that can lead to increased site conversion, have featured prominently in ORI.
Once preferences are established, brands must deliver strong content for personalized experiences. The study shows brands are elevating content, with 78% offering content throughout the site but only 26% offering shoppable content and 40% offering guided selling tools.
Retailers find engagement and longer site visits increase Average Order Value and return visits, so the ease of delivering a frictionless experience finding products and content matters. But while increasingly injecting relevant and original content across the shopping experience, retailers are also improving at connecting content and commerce to deliver seamless shopping experiences. For instance, simplifying the search function on mobile offers a better customer experience since the average mobile session that includes search typically is 3 to 4x more likely to convert than one that doesn’t.
To deliver a personalized experience to a shopper, brands must nail the basics down first, such as recognition at login, product recommendations across the journey and recently viewed on product detail pages. Then, they can engage smarter with dynamic segments and maximize relevance with automated insights. Many brands are successfully using marketing intelligence driven by data insights to optimize marketing performance and spending across each campaign, channel, and journey. Intelligence also helps nurture and power long-lasting loyalty.
3-Are you optimizing all your marketing channels?
Personalization begins with meeting shoppers where and when they want to shop—with mobile leading the way. At the same time, 92% of mobile apps are commerce-enabled, and just 27% leverage geolocations to suggest the closest store in the header. Loyalty programs remain high—83% have a loyalty component, and 70% have a customized app for shoppers. Brands also have an opportunity to leverage personalized search recommendations once they have customer data points to create an offer.
Social media allows brands to reach shoppers when they like to work and play. The study shows that 97% have a catalog or feature products that link to their own website on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Still, 63% of brands need to leverage retargeting display ads.
4-Are you delivering consistent customer service?
Customer data must be available and activated to personalize engagement across all channels to ensure their journey begins and ends with relevant information. The study shows while 64% offer customer service via live chat, phone, email, or click-to-call in the checkout, there is work to be done for many retailers. Just 57% are gathering feedback on product listings, product details, or account sections. Only 38%include customer service information in the cart, 35% include customer service information in their header, and barely 21% include information on empty search result pages.
Unifying customer data across marketing, commerce, sales, and service paves the way for cohesive, connected customer journeys that can boost engagement and foster loyalty this holiday season. Meeting shoppers’ expectations for timely, channel-specific content is crucial. By elevating personalization across various communication channels, you can maximize your marketing effectiveness and future-proof your business this holiday season.
See how your company stacks up! Download the 2023 Omnichannel Retail Index and sign up for your free ORI assessment to understand how you deliver on omnichannel best practices compared to the overall Index, your vertical, and your competitors.
Rich Siefert is a Senior Consultant, Practice Lead in OSF Digital´s Strategy group. He has over two decades of executive-level experience at large-scale retailers, particularly in the home categories, with a proven record in strategy, P&L management, and organizational leadership in an omnichannel environment.