Amid talk of a retail recession in Australia, there is a real opportunity for savvy brands to meet and exceed customer expectations to create a retail renaissance.
This is the opinion of director of industry strategy for retail and consumer goods at Salesforce Retail, James Johnson, who spoke to CMO during the vendor's recent Connections event in Chicago.
Johnson said the level of experience and excitement consumers now expect is only going to increase in the future. Those brands that evolve to meet these needs will flourish, but those that don't, won't. He also told CMO as millennials age and the consumer becomes savvier, brands that have a purpose and stand for something are the ones which will do well.
"The level of experience and excitement customers expect now is the new norm," he said. "Expectations have increased, and many retailers are meeting and exceeding those, and many aren't. Those that haven't continued to evolve and meet expectations are finding it tough.
"However, we see from a whole variety of data that 80 per cent of consumers say the experience they have is as important as the product or service they are buying, so we need to think about it from that context. Those experiences are everything from marketing messages, to in store experience, to contacting service people - all of those interactions are the experience."
The upside is,according to Johnson, is 72 per cent of people are likely to tell others they've had a great experience when they find one.
"If you get it right and use experience as a differentiator, understand the consumer and meet their needs, you can have the opportunity to charge more," he continued. "But if you don't have a differentiator or a value proposition, you will struggle."
While some brands will always be largely transactional in nature, Johnson saw an opportunity to also make transactions more emotive. What's more, customer experience (CX) needs to be offered across all touchpoints because the savvy consumer requires a value exchange.
"Consumers know a retailer should know something about them, and should do something with this knowledge. So, as a retailer, am I making better product recommendations? Am I filling the expectation gap? Consumers expect a brand to be able to meet their needs," he advised. "For some it will be a simple transaction, for some it will be a full experience. By understanding the customer, and using that data, both explicit and implicit, and making it come together, I can execute experiences, and build better journeys."