A Brands Ace: The Retail Customer Journey

This blog delves into the intricacies of the retail customer journey, examining how brands that excel at each stage can set themselves apart from competitors in the retail industry.

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In today’s tech-centric, fast-paced economy, where products can be found at a click of a button, focusing on delivering at every stage of the customer journey will differentiate one retail brand from the rest. In fact, it’s often the shopping experience – rather than the products themselves – that has become the key differentiator and a brand’s Ace card when it comes to customer loyalty, revenue and reputation.

The Shopping Experience Reigns King

John Lewis is a great example. A high street stalwart, the legions of loyal John Lewis shoppers are so enamoured with the retailer not really for the products (a TV is a TV after all) but the dependable customer service, the warm welcome into the store and the safety of knowing if something goes wrong you receive fair compensation.

IKEA brought a new way of furniture shopping, with their showroom style shops aiming to inspire consumers and the actual product picking only happening after you’ve walked through several carefully designed bedrooms, living rooms and dining areas. More recently, the likes of Amazon Go, with its Just Walk Out technology where the convenience of being able to literally walk out with your products is the appeal.

The most successful retailers are the ones that understand that the customer journey is their most important product. How consumers experience your brand – at every stage and touchpoint of their journey – will result in them converting to first-time customers, and then in turn converting to loyal, recurring purchasers.

The Five Stages to the Customer Journey

As part of our work in the retail sector, we’ve researched and aligned our capability to each stage of the retail customer journey – identifying how each of these stages can be elevated through technology solutions. These stages include: Awareness, Research & Consideration, Purchase, Fulfilment, Service and Support.

The solutions to these stages will be different for each retailer, as each faces its own challenges. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, but a vast array of tech-driven solutions can be combined, adapted and shaped to suit each individual retailer.

It might be a retailer is falling short in the ‘awareness’ phase of the journey and needs help when a potential customer makes initial contact with their brand, in which case we could explore solutions such as digital signage and visual search or amplify comms between the brand and the customer through a chatbot or app facility.

Or it could be the ‘fulfilment’ phase needs bolstering. If the actual transaction is difficult and long-winded then solutions such as Scan & Go, which gives the consumer the power at check out, or new Point of Sale facilities could be explored.

Evolving with Consumer Behaviour and Keeping up with Trends

What’s more, the solutions that are right for a retail brand today, are unlikely to be exactly right a year down the line. Consumer behaviour is constantly evolving, as are tech advancements; both of which impact on how a retail brand should react. Refinement and tweaks to the brand experience needs regular reviewing, to ensure the customer journey evolves in line with how the customers themselves evolve.

Truly understanding your customers is the only way to get the journey spot on. The rich wealth of data that tech-driven solutions – like the ones we provide – give to a brand is crucial in this. The data will give insights into the customer engagement, purchasing decisions, repeat visits, dwell time, loyalty drivers and so on. This data enables retailers to get under the skin of their customers and see where behaviour trends are leading to – and get ahead of the game.

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