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Online customers value personalisation and speedy order fulfilment above all else – so that is what retailers are giving them, study finds

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Consumers habits have changed significantly across the pandemic and there is plenty of research as to what they now want – but what are retailers actually doing about it? Improving delivery, security and making things more personal.

Research conducted by KPS – one of the UK’s leading ecommerce consulting companies – finds that businesses and brands are focused on implementing same-day delivery (60%), whilst customers favour convenience (66%) in their delivery expectations; personalised websites and apps (74%) led the way for respondents when it came to valued customisation and engagement.

“Thanks to the lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions, consumers moved their shopping from the high street to their sofas, and that changed their behaviour and the demands on e-commerce forever,” says Barney Moffat, KPS commercial director of KPS UK. “Overnight, people had to get their goods digitally – but our research shows they still want the same relationships and service they’re used to getting from face-to-face interactions, and that holds as much for B2B as it does for traditional retail.”

In order to understand these changes, KPS engaged WBR Insights to survey 100 heads of ecommerce and digital across the UK to find out what companies need to focus on in terms of online customer experience, digital solutions, data management and fulfilment services.

The first key finding was that speed and simplicity are winning strategies at checkout – any friction at this point could see the customer reconsidering their purchase and at worst abandoning their trolley. Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents from retail and B2B commerce said removing forced customer account registrations and allowing quicker checkout options would be important to focus on this year.

Second, protecting customers must be a high priority, as security and privacy concerns are top of mind for many. In fact, 78% of businesses surveyed are investing in robust security solutions, to ensure they are trusted providers who can safeguard their customers’ personal data.

The third key finding was that free delivery was top of both B2B and B2C respondents’ priorities, with both sectors hitting percentages in the high 90s – nearly two-thirds had already implemented free delivery as part of their order fulfilment services. Same day delivery (60%) led the way as a service that companies wish or intend to offer to meet the customer needs of speed and convenience. This is a direct result of the shift to working from home during the pandemic which negated the need for nominated day or weekend deliveries.

“In terms of personalisation, the top three challenges for 2022 are to deliver a personal service that the customer values, to achieve a measurable return on investment from personalisation, and the high costs associated with higher content volumes,” says Moffat. “However, in spite of these challenges, personalisation sits at the heart of the online retail environment and needs to go beyond greeting by name and targeted promotions.”

Moffat also notes that personalisation is universally acknowledged as a great way to build an emotional connection with the customer – whether for retail or B2B. “While the B2B sector might be lagging slightly behind those in retail, our research shows that the sector has realised the value of positioning its customer – and customer experience – and the heart of its strategy. B2B merchants are realising that their website users are all retail consumers in their own time and have certain expectations. They can no longer afford to ignore those expectations if they want to remain competitive in the e-commerce domain.”

This makes it essential that organisations look at tools and methodologies that can help them to effectively optimise each stage of the customer journey to create holistic and engaging personalisation ecosystems that connect at every touchpoint. This spans from the first sale through to delivery, convenience, communication and hyper-personalised engagements.

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