Holiday shopping trends show why customer experience is vital for retailers


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Here’s a common holiday dilemma: You’ve avoided retail crowd pandemonium by shopping online — but you still have gifts to buy and delivery by Christmas is no longer guaranteed.

Fortunately for consumers, retailers are prepared this year by offering several ways to purchase goods and services to fit specific needs. You can shop from mobile apps, Buy Online and Pickup In Store (BOPIS), purchase items at a store and get them delivered to your doorstep and more. The problem is, some of these options provide a better buyer experience than others. And what if you’re a retailer? Well, this represents the new normal — consumers utilizing multiple channels before completing a purchase.

Retailers that understand how each of those channels and experiences contribute to the overall sale can win big, while those that don’t risk missing business goals — with no insight into what went wrong. New research from ForeSee sheds light on this issue, showing why competing on the basis of CX yields major benefits for retailers. Below are three key observations from this year’s Retail CX Rankings report.

It’s all about fulfilling the brand promise

Amazon is arguably the undisputed leader in online commerce yet this year Tractor Supply, a company truly calibrated with the needs and expectations of its customers online, ranked number one in web according to the CX rankings. Taking the top spot, Tractor Supply illustrates that listening to your customers’ specific needs, in this case with a clean, well-lit site, drives high customer satisfaction. Rounding out the top spots, Nordstrom ranked second and Costco ranked third in web experience, with Amazon coming in fourth.

No retailer dominated all three channels

A lot of attention is given to retailers that rank at the top for omnichannel customer experience, and rightly so. But there’s a very interesting observation from our Retail CX rankings that’s worth more examination. Of the top 50 retailers in overall experience, none of them ranked at the top for CX in all three channels (store, web, and mobile). This finding proves there is plenty of room to amp up a competitive edge by making improvements. Of course, it’s not as simple as “we’ll beat our rivals on mobile channel CX,” but if the impact of that mobile channel leads to a boost in sales to other channels, then you’ve still succeeded. And what’s more, now you can focus on how to do the same in other channels by measuring and improving CX.

Choose your own ‘adventure’ shopping

Ignoring CX for channels that don’t see a lot of revenue generated seems like a logical decision. However, it may also be the decision that contributes to missing those business goals.

The reason? Shoppers now leverage multiple channels on their journey to the proverbial register. In fact, new research shows 41% of consumers said they used two or more channels before buying.

While you may have an intended path you’d like customers to follow, the data shows that it’s far more useful to focus on improving the experiences of those journeys — understanding how they interact — than it is to focus on any one channel or entice customers to do what you think is best.

Conclusion: Shopping behavior shows CX is the ultimate battleground for retailers

The bottom line is that customer experience (CX) is more than just a means of predicting consumer behavior and related business outcomes. Now more than ever, CX is the definitive battleground for which retailers can gain a competitive advantage. With the holiday shopping season near the finish line, there’s no better time to get a snapshot of what it takes to win hearts and wallet share in today’s retail jungle. Your customers are trying to tell you something — all you have to do is listen.

Eric Feinberg
Eric Feinberg heads marketing strategy for customer experience analytics company ForeSee. He is also a board member of the Digital Analytics Association (DAA) and an adjunct professor of mobile marketing at the University of California, Irvine Extension.


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