Building more human retail experiences starts with a holistic understanding of customers. To achieve that understanding, brands need real-world data and insight. It’s not enough to look forward to the future. To understand what’s around the corner, you also need to look back to the past.
So, what are the lessons that we can learn by turning the clock back? To answer this question, we at Contentsquare crunched the numbers on more than one billion behavioural data points from across the retail industry last year. Using this data, we wanted to uncover the key shopping trends that made consumers tick — and whether they are still making them tick, today.
By looking closely at data, we’ve called out ways consumer behaviours indicate important factors to consider when building a customer journey, like intent, happiness, success, and frustration. Data can be the backdrop to the customer experiences brands want to deliver.
Here are three lessons the data told us. Every retailer can apply these to their upcoming holiday, Black Friday, and sales season campaigns:
1. Don’t Get ‘Channel’ Vision
Customers are coming to your brand in many different ways: in-store, websites, apps, social, etc. Mobile continues to dominate in the retail industry, with 66% of online visits coming from smartphones in 2021, according to Contentsquare’s 2022 Digital Experience Benchmark Report.
Retail shoppers are still not big into tablets though, with just a reported 3% of online traffic coming from these devices.
Drilling down, the luxury sector, in particular, was dominated by mobile traffic last year, with 76% of website visitors originating from a mobile device—an interesting observation for an industry known for its in-person customer service and experience. Following closely behind was health and beauty (with 74% of traffic coming from mobile).
While mobile is clearly king, it’s not enough to focus on one device. Today’s consumer is neither chained to one device nor stuck inside. They’re shopping on the move on mobile (66% of traffic), browsing on desktop (31% of traffic), and heading back into brick-and-mortar stores.
And while the post-Covid-19 digital environment is more important than ever, remember that your digital channels form just one part of your customer lifecycle. Knowing and understanding this is the key to building truly exceptional experiences for customers—both online and offline.
A critical part of your CX success hinges on how these different points of the customer journey connect to one another. When you’re able to focus on seamless navigation and connected experiences, customers have an easier time finding what they want, when they want, and you’ve paved the path to easy conversion.
2. Respect your Customers’ Time
In a world of instant gratification, the best perk you can offer your customer is respect for their time. From ensuring your checkout process is as simple as possible, to minimizing loading times in line with Google’s Core Web Vitals, customers deserve seamless experiences.
In fact, the probability of bounce increases by 32% between the first 1 and 3 seconds. This means retail brands don’t have much time to meet or exceed visitor expectations, especially when 50% of website visitors abandon their journey after viewing one page!
Visitors want results and they expect them to occur immediately, especially given our collective digital fatigue thanks to the pandemic.
This year, retailers should prioritize exponentially increasing their customer satisfaction. The best way to do this is to ensure that loading times are as low as they can be. Speed is one of the biggest factors for visitor experience perception. Customers want landing pages to load quickly, and for websites to interact effectively with their user commands, fulfilling their demands.
The combination of speed, usability and responsiveness have become such key indicators of providing optimal online experience, that even Google rewards websites with a faster loading speed for customers with a higher SEO ranking.
Earlier this year, Contentsquare itself put these indicators to the test with its Fast 100 2022 list, calculating the UK’s best-performing websites of 2022, using its speed analysis tool.
Website speed is so important that if this expectation isn’t met, customers will head elsewhere (51% of retailers’ web traffic comes from first-time visitors). So, if the experience isn’t delighting customers—and quickly—don’t expect them to hang around.
3. Expectations are Higher Than Ever Before
Last year, we saw average retail bounce rates increase from 46% to 48%. Customer expectations are high, and they’re getting even higher. Today’s retail consumer is clued up, happy to spend time researching the best deal, and likely to bounce if they don’t get what they’re expecting.
So, understanding exactly how and why shoppers behave the way they do online at each stage of their journey is the magic ingredient for unlocking the perfect online customer experience.
For retail brands to succeed in an increasingly digital world, their attention must be focused on enhancing their digital properties in line with customer data. Because success in today’s world means beating the competition with experiences that are personalized, relevant, and, ultimately, inspiring enough to get customers to return. Again, and again.
And when the retail space is so heavily saturated already, standing out online isn’t a nice to have anymore; it’s a must.