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GUEST COMMENT The experience economy: a new avenue of success for retailers

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Jon Knott is head of customer insight at Dojo

We have reached a new age of commerce. It is no longer enough to simply offer fast and cheap products, consumers are looking for more. The reality is that Covid has changed consumer behaviour, with many people re-thinking what is important to them and how and where they want to spend their money. But, this has also presented retailers with an opportunity to reimagine success. According to latest research, 58% of consumers say that Covid has made them realise how much they value experiences – with it being the simple things they missed most, such as enjoying a dinner, and having a physical experience in a store.

This gives retailers an opportunity to carve out space in the market and compete with the online world. Consumers are increasingly seeking memorable experiences and they are willing to part with their cash for it. This can open new opportunities for businesses, in a time where we are faced with fierce competition and a rise in the cost of living. Retailers don’t need to necessarily compete with online prices, and entice customers through the door with sales. What is important to today’s consumer, is creating an enjoyable experience – one where they feel valued and appreciated. The final result is a win-win situation, retailers don’t have to cut profit margins or invest in big changes, it really is the small nuances that can have a big impact. 

However, the businesses that will succeed and stand-out will be the ones that recognise the experience goes beyond the transaction. With the constant shift in consumer needs, meeting your clients’ expectations is not an easy task. The same survey showed that there is actually a significant gap between what’s offered and what’s wanted – and if not acknowledged it can result in missed market opportunities. The survey found that 89% of businesses say they go above and beyond to deliver unique experiences for their customers, but just 48% of consumers felt the same. 

Adding a personal touch

So what are the lessons we can learn from this? It is not about making businesses work harder, or offering an experience that is out of this world. It really is the small touch points that will make a difference. In today’s commerce world, businesses can use technology, data and insights to understand what matters to their customers and make small changes. For example, enabling a smooth checkout process can go a long way and ensure customers don’t walk out at the last hurdle. In addition, customers want to pay how and where they want – whether this is through a credit card, contactless or even remote payments, like payment links. Taking a flexible approach that is tailored to each customer is really going to pay off in the long run.  

Business owners might think that creating a memorable experience means extra money will be taken out of their pockets in a time when every extra penny counts. But this doesn’t have to be the case. The same survey found that consumers are finding strong customer service more rewarding than atmosphere and price. These small elements don’t carry a heavy cost in terms of time or money, but can make all the difference in retaining customers. By pairing these small shifts with technology, businesses can also make sure they are offering digital touchpoints throughout the customer’s journey, and gaining insights. It is this data and insight that will ultimately enable businesses to create a memorable experience, based on their customers and their spending. Imagine being able to uncover what customers want, before they even walk through the door, or understand how they want to pay and what is most important to them.  

Building meaningful relationships 

Customers are of course an intrinsic part of any business. Engaging with them regularly and always making them feel valued by rewarding their loyalty is increasingly going to be the differentiator of success. This might feel like a daunting task, but the good news is the rewards are vast and the changes can be small. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, and by leveraging technology that can provide this insight, businesses really can get to know their customers and build a memorable experience that is tailored to them. 

With expectations higher than ever, businesses can tap into the experience economy to enable a turning point and offer something that customers want. The future of commerce is based on more than just purchasing and it is the bricks and mortar businesses that will be best placed to put experiences at the centre of their business, and those that can leverage data and insights to achieve this will be best placed to thrive. 

Jon Knott is head of customer insight at Dojo

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