#RetailEXPO19: Experience, trust and loyalty key to customers

Customer experience and retaining loyalty remain at the core of retailers’ strategies.

Speaking at Essential Retail’s breakfast briefing in London, a panel led by editor, Caroline Baldwin, discussed the concept of retailers working harder to attract customers to their brand, but shop on the customer’s terms. 

Various efforts were discussed by the panel, including using mobile apps, to more AI-based strategies and in-house personalisation functions, such as those seen at Nike's House of Innovation in New York. Steve Mader, director of global eCommerce strategy, consulting division, at Kantar said it was “all around discount and what the shopper wants and exceeding it” to make them feel special.

Dave Abbott, head of IT service delivery at Dune said enabling the customer experience “depends on what sort of retailer you are and what sort of shopper you have”, while Jim Buckle, COO of Feelunique explained that there is a difference from what is easy and convenient now in comparison to five or ten years ago - when a delivery would be expected in a week as opposed to on the same day. Customer expectation is rising and retailers need to keep pace with that.

Moving the discussion on to loyalty, Buckle said loyalty is the next stage in the customer relationship as they want to know what else the retailer can do for them. “If they shop with you five times a year they want to know what you are giving them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abbott said loyalty programmes really depend on what the retailer does, as “loyalty points has never really worked for us” as people don’t buy that many pairs of shoes. Instead they looked to improve the in-store customer experience, by offering free bottled water as an example.

John Shaw, head of consumer sales at Vodafone, described how a rewards scheme is a way to “demonstrate that you’re listening” to the customer.

Another subject which appeared was that of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), particularly in the use of customer data for greetings and privacy of those details. Abbott said there is a tough decision to be made around this, as while it is “cool to greet by name and know what they spend with Dune,” it is also a balancing act to have some information and be too scared to use it.

Shaw agreed, saying that you can make greetings and experience personable, but “not creep the customer out” and GDPR has changed and how retailers talk to customers. Buckle also said trust is an “important thing” and customers need to be reassured that you have their values and transparency in line with their expectations.