How to Make Services the New Customer Experience

by Andrew Hoeft | Mar 12, 2021 12:00:00 AM

In 2021, retailers are facing more competition than ever before. That competition used to be the store across the street, but in today’s digital landscape, retailers compete with the best experiences customers receive from all over the globe.

A retailer’s goal is to create a superior customer experience—no matter which channel the consumer chooses. However, you don’t need to shift your business strategy to a completely digital experience and neglect the in-store shopper. 

A 2020 study conducted by The Manifest reports, “of 501 U.S. adults polled in late July, 62% said they have favored buying groceries in person at the store over the past three months. At the same time, however, nearly one-quarter of respondents (22%) said they used contactless services such as online grocery delivery and pickup.” Additionally, a First Insight report found that 71% of shoppers surveyed spent $50 or more when shopping in-store, but only 54% of respondents spent more than $50 when shopping online.

By harnessing data and analytics, retailers can better determine how to create a cohesive, well-rounded customer experience to stand apart from the competition—both online and in stores. In this blog post, we discuss the various services your company can employ to enhance your customers’ shopping experience. We want to help you impress customers with new ideas that foster loyalty and ensure shoppers return time and time again for not just the products you offer, but the customer experience you deliver.

Loyalty Program

A loyalty program is a great way to establish a returning customer base. But the loyalty program of the future isn’t just an old-school fan club. For example, the popular cosmetic retailer Ulta has over 32 million Ultimate Rewards members, and according to Digital Commerce 360, “those members make up more than 95% of its sales, both online and in store.”

Because loyalty programs are tied to a card or phone number, you can track each member’s shopping habits and create customized advertising campaigns or email marketing campaigns targeting their needs. For example, if your store is running a promotion for apple juice, instead of emailing your entire loyalty program base, you can send an email only to shoppers who frequently purchase apple juice to notify them when a product they love is on sale. As avid apple juice drinkers, they’re more likely to open your email, take action, and feel your store is in tune with their wants and needs. 

A major perk of loyalty programs is that they’re not specific to an in-store or online experience; the perks can extend across all your demographics—locations, interests, shopping frequency, and beyond. Loyalty programs feel like an exclusive experience for the customer, keep your brand top of mind, and make it easier for shoppers to find what they want—when they want it.

Personalized Product Recommendations  

In the digital world, consumers are accustomed to a personalized experience. In fact, 71% of consumers say they feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them, and 36% of consumers say retailers need to do more to offer personalized experiences. Clearly, customers love anything you can do to make them feel like you know and understand them.

You can create this custom experience in a variety of ways, such as emails with coupon codes for food items your customers have previously purchased, to recommendations in your app for items that are frequently purchased together, or loyalty club perks like free samples for products that your customers might be interested in the next time they shop. Of course, you’re going to need a lot of data to get this personalization right. 47% of consumers say they check Amazon if the brand they’re shopping with doesn’t provide product suggestions that are relevant, so the right analytics can help you ensure you’re recommending valuable suggestions.

You can even offer features within your app that customers are using elsewhere. For example, provide a recipe library featuring ingredients sold at your store with a convenient way for shoppers to add those items to a grocery list or to their cart for delivery or curbside pick-up. Or, alleviate the tedious task of recipe searching with quizzes that help your customers create custom shopping lists based on their unique needs, dietary restrictions, family size, and lifestyle. While you’re at it, suggest kitchen items that might give customers new ideas (e.g. air fryers, instapots, oven mitts, etc.). Recommend new items that customers might like based on past searches and most-shopped products. This personalization creates a better experience for the customer by cutting through all the generic marketing noise and providing suggestions, ideas, and fun offers that feel relevant to them.

Replenishment Reminders

Further personalize the customer experience by reminding customers when they’re likely to run out of certain products or by offering an automated recurring subscription for everyday household items such as paper towels, dish soap, and shampoo. 

Data shows that replenishment reminder emails have an average open rate of 53%. You can calculate the best time to send a replenishment reminder based on factors such as:

  • The average time it takes to repurchase a particular product or category.
  • The customer’s purchase history.
  • Set schedules for certain products (like contact lenses or glasses).

Replenishment reminders prevent customers running out of essential (or running to another store to stock up). Even though you’re simply analyzing the data, to a customer, it feels almost as if you’re reading their mind, knowing what they need and when.

Virtual Live Cooking Classes

Another way to engage customers is to offer virtual live cooking classes. Customers find these classes to be fun, and many popular culinary retailers such as Sur La Table offer these classes to interact with their audience in a dynamic way.

Virtual live cooking classes organically introduce customers to new products, give them new reasons to order familiar favorites, and increase customer engagement with your store, so you’re top of mind the next time they shop or want a fun activity with their friends and family.

Meal Prep Kits

Many individuals like to supplement their weekly grocery store shopping and food preparation with convenient meal delivery services. Even with these services, customers often need to stop by the grocery store for other essentials such as snacks and household items. Many retailers have noticed this area of opportunity and offer meal prep kits tailored to different dietary needs and featuring various cuisines to create an even better customer experience.

A study conducted by the global research firm Nielson reports, “sales of meal kits in grocery stores and other retail outlets rang up $93 million in sales in 2018.” Stores can use their apps to build out recurring deliveries of meal kits and weekly grocery essentials. 

Offering a variety of meal kits in your grocery store is a great way to meet the needs of your entire customer base and create an excellent customer experience by truly offering it all. Meal kits will also help your business compete with meal delivery services and local take-out options. 

Omnichannel Shopping 

As you know, omnichannel shopping provides customers with a variety of shopping channels. In addition to traditional in-store shopping, customers can shop on your store’s app or a partner app such as Instacart, then schedule home delivery, curbside pick-up, or in-store pickup. 

Support your omnichannel shopping audience by featuring enticing promotions that incentivize customers to download your store’s app or shop from your store on a third-party app. We recommend offering promotions unique to the services you want to grow, such as curbside or home delivery services. Also, consider promoting exclusive in-app offers to drive app sign-ups, such as free delivery within two hours or a discount on the first order. Just make sure your app’s offer is worth it for customers to try this new channel and potentially make a habit out of it. 

An omnichannel approach is a great way to meet your customers’ needs and gather a wide range of data to create a better flow and process for inventory management. Providing your customers with digital and in-store shopping options will help build loyalty and create an all-around excellent customer experience. Learn more about the benefits of an omnichannel approach

Elevate Your Customer Experience with SKU Rationalization  

The best customer service strategy is one that has the data to back it up. These days, customers expect convenience, personalization, and ease. SKU rationalization enables you to decide which items to retain, increase, reduce, or eliminate from your inventory based on historical sales data or demand. SKU rationalization helps minimize your risk when offering various services and helps you confidently elevate your customer experience.

To learn more about using SKU rationalization, download our e-book, which brings together insight from Date Check Pro and Itasca Retail. In this e-book, you learn:

  • Why the right category assortment is important for stores and their customers.
  • How to avoid the factors that lead to having too much inventory. 
  • The essential data needed to guide SKU rationalization decisions. 
  • The solutions that will enable retailers to get the job done right.

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