Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now firmly established in the UK retail calendar. However, while they are great news for consumers, they also devalue brands and retailers.
Offering the big discounts we have seen this holiday season highlights retailers’ race to the bottom, which is threatening to pull them away from what they should really be focusing on – the customer experience.
In 2019, retailers need to stop competing on price and focus on how to deliver this.
Understanding the A-Z of customer experience
The first trend retailers should be looking at is the power of Generation Z. As recent research into consumer habits has revealed, Generation Z (those aged 18 to 24) have fully arrived as the key demographic for retailers to target this Christmas.
A third of Generation Z consumers – more than any other age category – say they are are planning to spend more this year than last. Heading into 2019, this key demographic is only likely to become more important and how retailers handle them will be crucial.
In addition to having the buying power, Generation Z consumers also have a different set of expectations that less savvy retailers may get caught out by.
Many of these consumers want features such as in-store wi-fi, mobile payments and touchscreen kiosks as they seek out a tangible brand experience from a physical store.
However, this is at odds with the expectations of older consumers who prefer a simplified shopping experience. Retailers need to thoroughly understand their consumers’ mindset if they are to offer them an experience that converts them into repeat customers.
Where does customer experience end?
Retailers need to understand that the customer experience extends far beyond the point of sale. Research carried out by Retail Week, in association with Valitor, has shown that 82% of consumers now view free returns as a crucial part of their shopping experience this Christmas.
“Research carried out by Retail Week, in association with Valitor, has shown that 82% of consumers now view free returns as a crucial part of their shopping experience this Christmas”
What makes this an even bigger issue is that any retailer that fails to deliver a seamless refund or returns policy will not only damage the customer experience but also prevent customers from making future purchases. Forward-thinking retailers will therefore not just focus on the sale experience but the aftercare process too.
Retailers need to get back on track, stop competing on price and ensure their customers have a great experience. Otherwise the future could be a turbulent one.