Creating a Seamless Retail Customer Experience
7 Min Read
Written by: Parcel Pending
A seamless customer experience is the name of the game for retailing in 2021. It means creating a cohesive, positive, and frictionless experience across all channels from online to in-store to on the phone. Whether the customer journey begins with marketing, customer service, or sales, consistent customer experience drives retention, satisfaction, referrals, and sales. Read on to discover how creating a seamless experience using technology and an electronic locker can help your business.
The Power of Omnichannel Retailing
An omnichannel customer experience ensures that every possible avenue of the customer journey has been thought out, accounted for, and fully marketed to – regardless of whether that is a digital experience or an in-person experience at a retail store. Instead, omnichannel retailing demands that customer interaction and engagement is when, where, and how the customer wants it.
When Lululemon Athletica, for example, temporarily closed most of its 491 physical stores earlier this year due to pandemic regulations, loyal customers stormed the website, ringing up an unprecedented 94% increase in online sales for its most recent quarter1.
Most companies, however, employ a multichannel program: a website, social media accounts, and a chat or contact center function. However, these distinct marketing communication channels don’t work together seamlessly to provide one integrated positive experience.
Starting Strong with a Seamless Online Experience
Creating a robust, online, seamless experience reduces the number of touchpoint moments needed to bring in a new customer. By providing a consistent customer experience and regular customer engagement, you invite new customers to jump into your brand with less consideration time and ensure you are always meeting consumer needs.
As HubSpot highlights, Disney delivers a seamless omnichannel experience with its mobile-friendly travel site, My Disney Experience, a tool that allows visitors to secure dining reservations or Fast Pass tickets, and the Magic Band Program which is literally the key to the kingdom as it opens guests’ hotel rooms, stores photos, alerts band wearers of ride wait times, and even allows customers to order food2.
Orvis, too, has a history of award-winning omnichannel strategy3. With a demographic aged 50+, one of its in-store goals was to familiarize older customers with the power of online tools. All sales representatives carry an iPad, and have the ability to check on inventory, order for the customer, and merge an on-line order with an in-store order with one efficient checkout system.
Expect retailers to continue blurring the lines between online and in-store shopping to chase a “halo effect”. ICSC reports that 88% of consumers prefer to shop with retailers who have both physical stores and a robust online presence, as they prefer the convenience of online shopping, but also like the ability to easily (and cost-effectively) make returns or exchanges at a nearby brick-and-mortar location4.
Customer Experience = More Brand Loyalty & Sales
Customer experience is paramount. Get it right and reap the rewards of raving fans – an effective customer experience strategy can improve your customer loyalty and increase a potential customer’s interest in your brand. Get it wrong, however, and the consequences could be dire.
A Walker study found that at the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator5. Further, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience6. For instance, a personalized experience is a unique way to create a great shopping experience for customers.
However, even when people love a company or product, 59% of Americans will walk away after several bad experiences with a brand, and 17% will walk away after just one bad experience7.
That’s why it’s significant that Ace Hardware hammered its way to the top spot for customer satisfaction in 2020 for the 13th time in 14 years8. More impressive is the correlation between satisfaction and sales – third-quarter revenue for the brand hit $2.0 billion in 2020 plus online sales were up 221% vs. a year ago9.
Buying into Companies vs. Buying from Companies
Over half of consumers say the environmental and social practices of a company have an impact when choosing to buy from them10. And 90% of them are willing to pay more for ethical companies according to KPMG.
What do these statistics mean for retailers? Retailers must draw a line in the sand as to where they stand on important social justice issues; they must support their causes with not only words but action.
For instance, in 2018, Starbucks memorably closed over 8,000 locations for an entire day to train employees on racial issues. However, experts argue that appointing Mellody Hobson as the first Black woman chair of its board in December 2020 was the loudest action of all11.
Making a conscious push to implement environmentally friendly practices (such as carbon offsetting or going carbon neutral) is one of many factors leading brands to invest in last-mile delivery solutions like BOPIS and curbside pickup.
How Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) Contributes to Happy Customers
Another retail industry offer that seems to be a hit with customers is “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS). When looking for ways for how to improve in store experience, consider adding this feature if you do not have it in place already. BOPIS is now mainstream with over 90% of retailers stating they will offer the program in 202112.
As its name explains, BOPIS (sometimes referred to as click and collect) allows customers to order items online and pick up them up at a nearby physical store (or other designated pick-up location). It satisfies customers’ need for instant gratification as well as safer, contactless delivery. Of course, retailers benefit too as 61% of all customers make an additional purchase when retrieving their orders, and it speeds up last-mile logistics13.
A complementary component of BOPIS is BOPIL®, or Buy Online, Pickup in Locker. A Fortune 500 retailer who recently installed Parcel Pending’s automated lockers reaped efficiencies as it no longer had to staff a customer pickup center14. Moreover, customers were overwhelmingly delighted: 95.9% of customers said that using the locker saved them time in picking up their order; 94.3% of customers said that they are likely to use in-store pick up again and 93.4% of customers rated their experience as “very satisfied.”
That means a locker system not only allows customers to save time but also improves customer loyalty. For instance, home improvement retailer Lowe’s recently partnered with Parcel Pending to install smart retail lockers at its 1,700 stores to boost their customer experience15.
“With more than 60% of online orders picked up in our stores, this gives customers one more option and the added convenience and flexibility to control how and when they get that order,” said Joe McFarland, Lowe’s Executive Vice President of Stores, about the partnership. “This is a significant step in our relentless efforts to create a fast and frictionless shopping experience for today’s time-pressed customers.”
It is also important to be able to answer customer questions such as “What does it mean when your order is in fulfillment?”, as customers appreciate understanding the fulfillment process.
Satisfied Customers Build Referrals and Buzz
With 71% of consumers preferring to make informed choices through recommendations, reviews, social media, and online search, it’s critical that happy customers spread the good word about your brand16. As Referral Candy reports, people pay two times more attention to recommendations from friends than other media17. Ecommerce predictions show that social media collaborations are a valuable way to attract new customers.
Also notable is that referred customers are more loyal than other customers and they often spend more. In short, these statistics are a strong argument for building a great relationship with customers so that they refer more often and continue to ring up sales.
Retailers can look to increase customer satisfaction by creating a seamless shopping experience. In fact, providing a streamlined BOPIS experience makes customers 78% more likely to become recurring shoppers (and to refer brands to their friends).
Even as the vaccine starts to have an impact worldwide on consumer expectations and behavior, savvy retailers will want to prepare now for how to best create an exceptional customer experience.
Delivering a Better Customer Experience with Parcel Pending by Quadient
Customer retention and satisfaction play a significant role in a successful retail experience. That’s why many brands are using technology, contactless retail, and other strategies to keep customers safe and happy.
Savvy retailers can get ahead of their competition by providing new and innovative customer experiences, like streamlined BOPIS and curbside meaning curbside pick-up. Outpace your competition with Buy Online, Pick-up in Locker (BOPIL®) by Parcel Pending. Learn more about our retail parcel locker solutions here.
- Kapner, Suzanne. The Wall Street Journal. Lululemon Gets Another Sales Bump From Cooped-Up Shoppers. (2020, December 10). https://www.wsj.com/articles/lululemon-gets-another-sales-bump-from-cooped-up-shoppers-11607638339.
- Fontanella, Clint. HubSpot. 15 Examples of Brands With Brilliant Omnichannel Experiences. (2020, November 6). https://blog.hubspot.com/service/omni-channel-experience.
- Retail Supply Chain Insights. Omni Channel Retailing | 2017 IRT Retailer Innovation Awards. (2016, November 28). https://www.retailsupplychaininsights.com/doc/omni-channel-retailing-irt-retailer-innovation-awards-0001.
- International Council of Shopping Centers. (2018). The Halo Effect [Report]. Retrieved from: https://www.icsc.com/thehaloeffectii
- Walker. (2020). Customers 2020: A Progress Report [Report]. Retrieved from: https://www.walkerinfo.com/knowledge-center/featured-research-reports/customers-2020-a-progress-report
- Kulbytė, Toma. SuperOffice. 37 Powerful Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2021. (2020, December 11). https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/.
- Puthiyamadam, Tom & Reyes, José. PWC. Experience is everything. Get it right. (2017). https://www.pwc.com/future-of-cx.
- Ochwat, Dan. Store Brands. J.D. Power study: Ace is the place for customer satisfaction. (2020, June 16). https://storebrands.com/jd-power-study-ace-place-customer-satisfaction.
- Ace Hardware Corporation. (2020, November 18). Ace Hardware Reports Record Third Quarter 2020 Results [Press Release]. Retrieved from: https://newsroom.acehardware.com/
- KPMG International. (2020, July). Customer experience in the new reality [Report]. Retrieved from: https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2020/07/customer-experience-in-the-new-reality.html
- Wiener-Bronner, Danielle. CNN. Starbucks names Mellody Hobson board chair – the first Black woman in the role. (2020, December 9). https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/09/business/starbucks-mellody-hobson/index.html.
- Retail TouchPoints. 90% of Retailers Plan To Implement BOPIS By 2021. (n.d.). https://retailtouchpoints.com/resources/90-of-retailers-plan-to-implement-bopis-by-2021.
- Parcel Pending. How BOPIS Lockers Can Help Retailers Succeed. (2020, April 1). https://www.parcelpending.com/blog/how-bopis-lockers-can-help-retailers-succeed/.
- Results gathered from a case study conducted with a Fortune 500 retailer. Access the case study here: https://info.parcelpending.com/fortune-500-retailer-bopis-bopil.
- Lowe’s Home Improvement. (2020, September 22). Lowe’s Leverages Innovative Technology to Launch Contactless Pickup Lockers Nationwide [Press Release]. Retrieved from: https://corporate.lowes.com/newsroom
- Wylie, Courtney. The Drum. Happy customers will drive business growth in 2020. (2019, December 17). https://www.thedrum.com/industryinsights/2019/12/17/happy-customers-will-drive-business-growth-2020.
- Chua, Desmond. Referral Candy Blog. Infographic: Why Referral Marketing is Awesome [2020 Update]. (2020, May). https://www.referralcandy.com/blog/referral-marketing-awesome-infographic/.