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EDITORIAL Keeping up experiences

Retailers need to surprise and delight if they are to attract customers

News that brand CEOs are turning to banks and other organisations to learn how best to do mobile, rather than looking at what retailers are doing is troubling. Mobile is key to cross-channel retail and is what links the digital world and the physical – getting it wrong, failing to delight, is not an option.

For starters, failing to get the experience right on any channel is now such as turn off that it is almost certain commercial death. According to Adobe’s Experience Index Report, which surveyed more than 3,000 consumers from across Europe on their expectations of brands across sectors, people cite an overcomplicated or time-consuming purchase process as their biggest turn off, with consumers from France (50%), the UK (43%), and Germany (41%) inclined to abandon their online shopping cart following a negative experience.

One in three consumers from France and the UK say they would never buy from a company again following a bad experience.

A poor customer experience has a significant impact on a brand’s reputation, too, with over a third (36%) of people across the three countries surveyed likely to discuss a poor brand experience with friends or family.

Taken together, these two reports make for scary reading. The companies that those brand CEOs cite as being good at mobile – Uber, Monzo et al– are the very same that are setting the customer expectation higher and higher. Retailers that don’t get on with keeping up are going to suffer.

The research also suggests that keeping up with these expectations is only set to become more challenging, with many companies looking to invest more and more in technology and experience in the coming years.

According to Adobe, what consumers demand most of all is personalisation of experience. They also are in to AR tours, voice interaction, loyalty programmes that they can control through mobile and free test products.

Bringing all these things together in a mobile-centric, personalised way that delights is the Holy Grail, but it is also a huge challenge – both technically and financially. With retailers in doldrums, are they up to it?

This is exactly the issue facing Boots UK. It joins the growing roster of UK retail stalwarts recording disappointing results. Part of its problem is that it needs to bring its game up a few levels and try and inject some cool and some modern into how it does things – both on mobile and in the real world.

New CEO Seb James is determined to make this happen and has already teamed the company up with Rhianna and her Fenty beauty range. It needs to radically overhaul its stores and what it is best known for to tap into the market segment that will spend on cosmetics, believe analysts.

Cotton Traders is similarly in the news this week, re-platforming to keep up with its own customer base, which has become mobile-first over the past few years. Mobile is now central to its plans and it is having to look at a hefty tech spend to make it happen.

And these are the good news stories. Trying to keep pace with the demands of consumers is going to subsume many a retailer if they don’t get on with getting mobile.

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