5 Retailers Crushing Their Digital Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden
February 23, 2021

There was a time not too long ago when the shopping experience always began and ended at the doors of a brick and mortar store. You decided you wanted to buy something, made the journey to the store, found your item, purchased it and left.

For today’s retail consumers, this kind of experience is much less common. The meteoric rise of online shopping has morphed the retail experience into something that is happening 24/7.

We are always browsing, researching, comparing and purchasing at any location in the world. Even when we choose to purchase in store, there’s a high chance a customer will have looked up a price or compared items before making their visit. Physical purchases now involve digital experiences.

A man could be sitting in his office in Sydney and have flowers delivered to his sister in Boston from a business just down the road from her home. If you work at that florists, how can you provide a fantastic experience for the person ordering in Sydney? With a 14-hour time difference, 16,000km between you and no way of knowing who you’re interacting with, how can you provide the same kind of valuable, positive experience that you consistently deliver to your in-person customers?

The answer is by creating a friction-free, valuable and personalized service through digital touch points.

Just How Significant is the Online Marketplace?

Retail continues to grow without any signs of slowing down as U.S. sales for January 2021 ring in at $568.2 billion, an increase of 7.4%. However, many of those transactions have changed in nature as online customer interactions have risen from 36% in 2019 to 58% in 2020. While these consumer trends bring new opportunities, they also present new challenges.

The smallest amount of friction can turn online customers off in a moment. With so many competitors offering similar products and services, there’s no need for customers to suffer through frustrating digital experiences. They simply head elsewhere. Worse still, without sophisticated digital experience intelligence technology in place, you will never know why.

A massive $75 billion is lost each year by US businesses due to poor experiences. To stay ahead of the competition in retail, you can’t let your business become part of that statistic.

Offering something not just smooth and pleasant, but spectacular, can make your brand stand out for consumers and drive loyalty in an age where it’s never been harder to earn it.

As the illustration above says, some brands are going above and beyond to turn the shopping experience into a spectacular experience that customers not only want to repeat, but recommend to all their friends, family and colleagues. If you want to compete, you need to do the same.

5 Ways You Can Deliver Incredible Digital Experiences and the Retailers Championing Them

To create unforgettable digital experiences, you need to:

1. Optimize for mobiles like Argos

It’s been a long time since ecommerce was confined to a desktop or laptop computer. Omnichannel retailing quickly became the norm thanks to the explosion in mobile selling, and today it’s nothing short of unforgivable to have a poor mobile experience.

Every element on your website should be responsive at every screen size and you should have no technical issues like broken links or slow loading times. Fixing all your technical problems is much easier said than done, but a digital experience intelligence platform can help by flagging up issues as they occur to your engineering team.

Argos is one retailer that has truly cracked mobile digital experience. In the UK, they were the first UK retailer to pass £1bn of annual sales through mobile.

“I don’t very often hear customers talking about ‘channels’ or ‘journeys’ or even ‘experiences’, customers just tell us they want to go shopping,” says Argos digital director Mark Steel. “Our challenge is to build connected experiences, irrespective of the device, so that customers can enjoy a great shopping experience whenever, wherever and however they choose.”

2. Create localized experiences like ASOS

You need only arrive on a (insert non-native language of your choice) retail site and click Google’s autotranslate option to understand the importance of creating localized experiences. However, it’s important to note that local experiences don’t begin and end with content translation.

Each local market will have certain wording, pricing, imagery and navigation that best appeals to them. Global marketing is unpredictable, but by creating localized sites for people to land on, you give yourself the best chance of connecting with them on a personal level. Localizing experiences is a complex undertaking, but it’s worthwhile when you consider that 86% of consumers state that they would pay more for a product or service if they received better customer experience.

ASOS has experienced phenomenal global growth by creating dedicated websites in strategic country markets and ensuring that in-country teams provide locally-relevant services and product offers. As a result, two thirds of its customers are now based outside the UK.

It reported group revenues of $2bn in the six months up to February 28th, 2018, an incredible 27% up on the same period last year. The majority of the growth came from overseas markets.

3. Blend in-store and digital experiences like Gucci

Long-standing retail enterprises have typically been slow to match their digital experiences with the service offered in-store, but the ones that have managed to make the transition have reaped the rewards. Today, we see hundred-year-old retailers delivering digital experiences that more than rival the physical experiences that loyal customers have come to expect. More impressive still, are the ones that have been able to combine the two.

Artfully blending in-store and digital experiences allows retailers to present a truly cohesive and instantly recognizable brand experience for consumers. As technology develops, new opportunities arise to create immersive digital experiences in a physical space. Retailers have taken advantage of VR, augmented reality, facial recognition and more to delight consumers.

One brand that has been integrating digital experiences into stores for a long time is Gucci.

Gucci has been a mainstay of the luxury fashion world since its inception in the 1920s and has experienced a surge of popularity in recent years thanks to a visionary digital strategy aimed at delivering incredible experiences to a millennial audience.

Before it introduced the visionary social media campaigns and viral digital marketing collaborations that the brand is now known for, Gucci was designing interactive displays in flagship stores that allowed customers to pause, rewind and search through content with simple hand gestures – all the way back in 2011.

It’s this kind of innovation that has lead to Gucci being named the number one fashion brand in Gartner’s L2 Digital IQ Index Rankings for two years running.

4. Improve clarity of messaging like River Island

Nothing is more frustrating to ecommerce customers than a confusing website that doesn’t work the way it’s expected to. It’s incredibly important to create an intuitive navigation and to have very clear indicators for what your customer needs to do to make a purchase, search for products or get assistance. You can have the flashiest, most exciting, innovative digital experiences in the game, but if you don’t get these fundamentals in place, customers will desert your website in droves.

Studies demonstrate that as much as 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned at some point in the buying journey. In a quantitative study by the Baymard Institute last year, it was discovered that many customers had issues with hidden costs, complicated checkout processes and website errors.

By simplifying navigation, making all information as clear as possible and fixing the errors that make your website appear untrustworthy, you could help guide hundreds more customers through to purchase.

One retailer known for clear messaging and smooth checkouts is UK fashion brand River Island. They include delivery information and a running cart total at the top of every web page and have comprehensive search functionality.

River Island is dedicated to constantly optimizing digital experiences, which is why it uses Decibel to monitor and improve those customer experiences in real time. By making the display of a single error message clearer, they were able to increase the conversion rate of the customers who saw it by 6.49%.

With each small change, the overall digital experience becomes smoother and more engaging for customers.

5. Present your products in their best light like MADE.com

For retailers, there is perhaps no more important aspect of your web presence than clear, beautiful, faithful representations of your products. It’s said that a picture speaks a thousand words, so with the right product imagery, you can expect to communicate volumes on just how brilliant what you’re selling is.

It’s been proven time and time again that customers engage with images and videos more than any other aspect of a website, so it’s essential that you get them right if you’re going to a deliver an incredible digital experience to every visitor.

Session replays and heatmaps will allow you to see exactly which photos and videos are holding the attention of your customers the longest. Tweaking your imagery and testing multiple options will allow you to optimize them for maximum engagement and increase purchases.

One retailer consistently nailing product imagery is MADE.com. This furniture destination has made the absolute most of their impressive product range with creative and attractive digital displays.

In addition to the usual product photography, MADE.com include videos of the products on a set being interacted with by models. They might be curling up with a book on a velvet sofa or flicking on a lamp in a cosy living room – it all helps the customer envision the product in their home and enhances desirability.

Furniture is rarely an impulse purchase. Every piece is thoroughly researched and considered. The greater the emotional connection that a person feels with the product, the more likely they are to purchase it.

Bringing it all together

Delivering incredible digital experiences in retail is no small feat but if a business is to compete in today’s market, it needs to turn customers into excited, loyal advocates that will return to them time and time again.

To do this, the most savvy enterprise brands often see the best success when they’re able to turn ideas, trends, and insights into meticulous web and app optimizations. For a jumpstart in the right direction, download 17 Powerful Ideas to Boost Ecommerce Conversion, Loyalty, and Sales.

Topics: Digital Experience, Digital Transformation, Online Retail
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