2015 TRENDS How will customer experience develop and change in the year ahead?

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Over the course of this month, we’ll round up predictions from industry experts on the trends that look likely to change ecommerce and multichannel in 2015. Today our focus is on customer experience.

Lars Schickner, director of Intershop‘s Innovation Lab, says customers will be expecting retailers to keep up as they use more and more devices.

Device proliferation is a challenge: laptop, tablet, work smartphone, private smartphone… the average consumer already uses a variety of connected devices for researching products and shopping, and this number is only set to increase. Brands are faced with the huge challenge of engaging their customers across a very diverse range of end devices, optimising the user experience for different operating systems and screen sizes, and maximising conversion rates. And there is no one size fits all solution. Offering added value on digital touchpoints is a great way of increasing customer loyalty, but for B2B sellers a simple solution may be best. Wearables probably won’t quite come into play yet in 2015 – but that’s a space to be watched.

Informatica’s Ben Rund puts the emphasis on virtual reality, the purchase journey and the importance of trust in his predictions.

Virtual reality is set to take the customer experience to the next level with leading companies, including Facebook, recently making acquisitions to bolster their offerings in this area. As the momentum behind this technology continues to grow, virtual reality products for consumers will break into the mainstream. This will open up new, interactive ways of crafting the customer experience. For example, soon consumers will be able to test drive a car from the comfort of their home or replay a sports event in full 360 degree motion on their TV.

Mobile conversions need to be improved. Consumers are using mobile devices to search but most online shopping still happens on PCs. With sales from consumers shopping on mobile devices continuing to grow, brands need to concentrate on delivering better and more relevant information that pushes customers towards that vital point of sale on tablets and smartphones.

Issue of the informed purchase journey: A Google study (*Google ZMOT Handbook) shows that, on average, across all categories, shoppers use 10.4 sources of information to make a decision. This includes watching TV ads, looking up manufacturer websites, talking to family and friends, reading reviews, and checking Amazon. Customers are increasingly visiting websites across multiple devices, and the final location where they make a purchase can be very different from the initial point of interaction. Retailers need to connect the dots between the real-time data available to understand when consumers have enough information to convince them to buy.

Three levels of trust

Customer-centric organisations looking to build trust with customers are going to need to use a combination of data management and big data analytics. This will greatly improve their ability to acquire, retain and grow their share of the customer’s wallet with more personalised marketing designed to build three levels of trust:

Social trust: by aggregating relevant social data, brands can understand which people are recommending products, how influential they are and what information is being shared. Using these sources they can target trusted people with personalised marketing as part of social media strategies.

Product trust:retailers are moving into the age of commerce relevance where personalised offers and precision stock management make all the difference. For better customer service, companies need quicker insights when it comes to making decisions on their assortment, prices and content.

Brand trust: the brand experience is so important. Brands and retailers need to be more efficient when creating market ready products, with videos and content that engage customers by capturing emotions.

Ivan Mazour, chief executive of Ometria, says data will come to the forefront in 2015.

Customer data: This has been a regular fixture on trend lists for the last few years, but I think that 2015 will be the year that data is no longer considered a ‘scary’ proposition by online retailers, even those that do not have in-house data analysts. As smart, more intuitive solutions become available to smaller and medium-sized retailers, ecommerce marketing strategies can be truly data-driven without the need for a team of data scientists.

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