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March 20th, 2017

Building Better Experiences Is The Top Priority For Retailers Over The Next 5 Years

Retailers have long relied on discounts to get people in the door. But customer and digital experience is what will keep them coming back.

In retail and ecommerce, experience is the new black.

The notions of traditional sales, marketing and advertising are beginning to fade away. Experience is the new platform in a world that has become hyper-connected.

Think about what experience actually means. Table stakes: the interaction between a person and a company/brand cannot be subpar.

A person should never walk out of a store and say, “well, that sucked.” Above that fairly marginal goal, the next objective is to make the interaction memorable. Did the customer associate pay attention to the little details? Were there unexpected benefits? Was the interaction aesthetically pleasing? Was it seamless, painless … and fun?

Mastercard chief marketing and communication officer Raja Rajamannar explains the concept of experience in sales, marketing and advertising well in a recent interview with ARC:

We are now trying to be an experiential marketer. It is all about the experience of the consumers. And through those experiences make those consumers realize how good your brand is and then they will propagate those experiences. And they are your brand ambassadors. They communicate through their social media to various people … and that is the new form of advertising.

Essentially, word of mouth is the best form of marketing and advertising that a brand can attain. That will not be achieved with a litany of ads that interrupt the flow of a TV show or banner ads telling consumers how good something is. They need to experience it for themselves. And if they like the experience and it was truly memorable, they will tell their friends, who will tell their friends and so on.

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Retailers are finally coming around to the notion that experience is what makes sales and helps create return customers and communities. Discounts may create short-term pops in customers, but discounts do not create loyal customers.

In a presentation at ShopTalk 2017 in Las Vegas, Michael Klein, director of industry strategy and marketing for the Adobe Creative Cloud quotes a Manhattan-based retailer named Kith: “products come and go, but experience lasts forever.”

“The addiction to discounting needs to be broken,” Klein said, stating that a race to the bottom of the price wars benefits nobody and that building better experiences creates more sustainable customers.

Experience Is At The Top Of Retailers Lists Over The Next Five Years

According to the joint Econsultancy / Adobe Digital Intelligence Briefing 2017, the top way for companies, brands and organizations to differentiate themselves from their competitors over the next five years is through experience.

According to the survey, 31% of agency respondents and 29% of company respondents said that, “customer experience, making the experience fun, easy and valuable” was the top priority to differentiate within the next five years. The next priority was innovation of the product or service (15% of agencies, 17% of company respondents) followed by enhancing customer service, improving customer and service quality and the merging of offline and online experiences.

Company goals in 2017 all revolve around the idea of experience. More than a fifth (22%) of company respondents said that optimizing the customer experience is the most important opportunity for companies in 2017. Creating compelling content for digital experiences (16%) was the next most important goal.

Down the list for 2017 are some of the hottest technologies that make a lot of headlines for retailers this year such as Internet of Things (4%), engaging audience through augmented or virtual reality (3%) or using artificial intelligence and bots (2%) to drive campaigns and experiences. The time for these technologies will ultimately come, but the focus for companies right now to is get the holistic experience down before moving to the cutting edge of technology.

Did you know? Applause specializes in helping companies build high quality digital experiences for customers and clients. See what Applause can do to help retailers improve customer experience here.