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GUEST COMMENT Keeping up with the omnipresent customer

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Retailers have been experimenting over the past few years with different multichannel models, looking for the most appropriate format to best suit their customers’ shopping needs. It’s becoming clear that the shopping experience is no longer about the number of channels offered, but rather about offering the customer the best single experience, no matter how they choose to shop.

Customers want a personalised and single experience through each channel whether it be catalogue, in-store, mobile or social media. An important aspect of achieving this single experience is checkout interaction, as returning customers want the merchant to recognise them and provide a shortened payment process. To stay ahead of the competition, retailers must ensure the multichannel experience that they offer is convenient, engaging and informative – to both their customers and themselves.

While price remains one of the most important factors to consumers, especially online shoppers, value and customer loyalty ultimately drive long-term profitability. Some retailers are bringing concepts from the website user-experience within the physical retail store in an effort to add value and develop brand loyalty, including equipping sales staff with tablets to help customers with online demonstrations.

Following Chase Paymentech’s latest whitepaper, How to keep up with the multichannel consumer, here are some tips for retailers on how the correct approach to multichannel may ultimately help to convert visitors into satisfied customers.

Optimising the checkout experience

With 58% of consumers abandoning online purchases in a single month due to frustrations at the checkout stage (Source: Dynamic Markets “Online Retail Challenges: 2014” (March 2013), it is crucial to ensure that the payment stage is kept simple. Assessing how checkout experiences can be streamlined for different customers and shortening the process for returning customers by securely storing their payment details and other personal information could help to simplify the payment stage.

Converting visitors into satisfied customers

Retailers should accept that consumers shop around and are just a click away from being able to compare prices and find special offers. However, retailers should also understand that long-term customer loyalty is driven by convenience and value rather than price alone. Providing multi-channel shoppers with detailed product information, reviews and stock information to help inform their decisions can help build customer loyalty.

Using data to build loyalty

An important component of a multi-channel strategy is the use of customer payment data to build loyalty. The data challenge for e-retailers is to track customers across multiple channels so that patterns of behaviour unique to their business can be identified. Finding a link between the different sources can give retailers the ability to acknowledge customers and personalise their shopping experience based on their preferences, purchasing history and behaviour.

The role of smartphones & tablets

Mobile devices have become the foundation on which multi-channel retail is based, providing greater customer convenience at every stage of the shopping journey. Mobile devices allow consumers access to a wealth of instant information –nearly one in four smartphone users have changed their mind about buying a product or service in a store as a result of information found using their smartphone (Source: PWC: Demystifying The Online Shopper, Jan. 2013).

Keep a close eye on the future

With a growing generation of tech‑savvy shoppers, there will be more opportunities and challenges in store for retailers as they strive to provide consumers with the best possible shopping experience. As technology continues to evolve at an extraordinary pace, retailers should understand their customers’ needs to ensure an exceptional shopping experience.

Shane Fitzpatrick is the president and managing director of Chase Paymentech Europe Limited

© 2014, Chase Paymentech Europe Limited. All rights reserved.

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