Retailers must craft experiences to keep shoppers coming back in this new normal, says Coveo.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the migration of business online and pressured retailers to redesign their customer interactions and experience. 

The resulting changes in consumer behaviour and brand-to-customer relationships have prompted companies to rethink the ways in which they can best reach and engage their customers to ensure long term loyalty.

Retail Week and Coveo gathered panellists from different market segments to speak about their experience adapting to the new rules of loyalty, best practice and what to expect in the future.

Standing out in the crowd

With online being the only accessible channel to non-essential retailers during the peak of this crisis, differentiation has been key to attracting significant market share and remaining competitive. 

What makes a retailer stand out among others is primarily the relationship and emotional bond established between the brand and consumer. In this way, the key differentiator for these online retailers is the customer experience they deliver.

For these retailers, the fundamental change was not in their value proposition or brand identity, but rather in the execution

In the virtual event The New Rules of Loyalty: Understanding the emotional drivers of the 2020 consumer, chief executives from Pets at Home, BrandAlley and SilkFred discussed how their businesses have adapted to the new restrictions and business environment. 

For these retailers, the fundamental change was not in their value proposition or brand identity, but rather in the execution. Every initiative was seen as a response to craft the experience that would most resonate with the customer’s context. 

Understanding customer needs

Pets At Home’s messaging focused on reassurance and supporting customer values through providing assistance and benefits to those most impacted by the pandemic. The retailer recognised the needs and environments of its customers and responded accordingly. 

Similarly, SilkFred’s Emma Watkinson prioritised direct communication with her customers, requesting audience ideas and feedback to inform content and strengthen customers’ connections to the brand. 

BrandAlley’s Rob Feldmann demonstrated agility by changing his product offering to match the data signals he received from his records on customer purchases. 

Due to its unique membership-only access model, BrandAlley benefits from additional customer insight that supports the team in decision making. 

Based on past purchases, browsing history and profiles, the fashion marketplace captures customer data to recommend products in a targeted manner by using AI.

Feldmann emphasised the value of the use of technology in his business to drive growth and maintain richer customer relationships.

The power of AI is manifested in the way it can recognise and predict customer intent and understand their needs proactively

Ben Wild, business lead at Coveo, highlighted that loyalty is a result of successful outcomes, and that these outcomes for retailers can be delivered based on their understanding of their consumer. 

The power of AI is manifested in the way it can recognise and predict customer intent and understand their needs proactively. 

Wild also expanded on AI’s capabilities beyond the digital realm, illustrating its ability to make humans more proficient and effective on the retail sales floor of the future. 

AI is increasingly emerging as a key focus for the retail industry, not only to personalise the experience but to be best equipped to respond to the dynamic changes of consumer patterns in real-time. 

More change to come

Looking into the future, these leaders agreed that the only prediction that could be validated was to expect more change. 

It is in this environment that the ability to adapt the retail experience to the end consumer’s context and needs will distinguish those that lose from those that thrive.

Whether that is through building strong trust through direct communication channels, or proactively addressing customer wants and needs through AI, the experiences crafted that will win loyalty will be those that are relevant, dependable and personal. 

Coveo on demand

Want to hear more about how retailers are building emotional connections with consumers? Click here.

You will discover: 

  • The role of personalisation in driving experience and loyalty
  • How retailers adapted to life in the midst of Covid-19
  • What you can do to drive loyalty.