It turns out the American consumer of 2022 isn’t all that complicated, at least according to Raydiant’s State of Consumer Behavior 2022 report. Shoppers today want bang for their buck, they expect a positive all-around experience when they enter your stores, and have just a few other requests that most retailers can easily honor — with little more than attention to detail.
In a trying time, why shouldn’t retailers and customers lean on each other? By every metric, customers need all the help they can get. Showing attentiveness to customer needs, now and for the foreseeable future, is the greatest gesture that a retailer can make.
Compassionate retail isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the sage move for organizations serious about differentiating themselves from carbon-copy competitors.
Several findings from our study are especially prescient for those seeking to gain customers’ trust and business in 2022 and beyond.
Finding No. 1: Experiences Have Become the Clearest Way to Differentiate Your Organization
In a marketplace where prices are more or less the same among similar retailers, experiences have emerged as the primary way to set your organization apart. Seventy-seven percent of customers define the in-store experience as either “important” or “very important” to how they view a brand.
Brands that provide customers far more than just products show compassion by delivering extraordinary value. It’s easy enough to put products up and to price them fairly. Organizations that go the extra mile at no additional expense to the customer, though, show where their hearts truly lie.
Ikea shows how simple delivering excess value can be. Intelligent, emotion-inspiring layouts are key features of each Ikea store, and make shoppers feel like they’re walking through a series of unique worlds, rather than a bland store. In this way, Ikea transports each customer from the routine to the otherworldly.
Delivering such value through experiences doesn’t always have to be especially costly or flashy, as customers notice the little touches — and appreciate them.
The truth is, compassion in retail is self-serving. Even when motives are pure, retailers can expect customers to reciprocate with repeat business and greater spend per visit. Eighty-three percent of consumers said they’ll give you repeat business when they have a good in-store experience, while 63 percent said they’ll spend more per visit when the experience is right.
Finding No. 2: Competitive Prices Never Hurt, Especially Now
Even though experiences offer a boundless means of delivering value to customers, competitive prices are a must. Twenty-nine percent of consumers are switching brands more than they ever have before, and our findings suggest that bargain hunting is a key reason for brand defection.
Nearly one-third (31.5 percent) of respondents said that competitive pricing was their No. 1 criteria when choosing a store. This was the largest contingent of respondents. Retailers pay a certain cost to obtain the goods that they sell, placing a cap on how low they can drop prices. However, you might consider adopting more budget-friendly product lines or lowering the cost of essential items by increasing margins on luxury items.
Furthermore, 24.8 percent of respondents said that offering exclusive in-store discounts is the best way to get them to shop with you. This, again, was the No. 1 response for shoppers who were asked what it would take for them to switch brands.
There’s no way around it: Price and value are the habit-defining factors for shoppers today, and it’s not particularly close. In times of financial stress, shoppers will show great loyalty to retailers that get creative in order to deliver savings.
Finding No. 3: Consistency is Key in the Age of Social Media
You’ve seen it: a high-profile celebrity, in a moment of exasperation, eviscerates an unsuspecting brand for all of Twitter to see. Disproportionately, major airlines are the recipients of such fury. Make no mistake, though, retailers aren’t spared from the wrath of furious Twitter fingers.
It doesn’t necessarily take an influencer to do serious reputational harm to your brand. The social complaints of Joe and Jane Consumer add up quickly, and may be deterring more shoppers than you suspect from entering your stores.
We found that 83 percent of consumers will tell others about a poor experience in your stores. The best remedy for tongue lashings is to remove as many reasons to complain as you possibly can.
Today, offering do-it-yourself options is key to customer satisfaction. By allowing the rushed shopper to check out on their own you remove the motivation to complain about long wait times. By organizing your stores intuitively and providing ample signage to inform customers of product locations and deals, you provide even less room for gripes.
In fact, by delivering convenience, strong customer service, and a generally positive in-store experience, you might even find that social media becomes your brand’s best asset.
When it comes to retaining your current customers and winning new business in 2022 and beyond, don’t overthink it. Customers are, at their core, simple beings. They want fair prices, a hassle-free experience, and stories they can brag about — or complain about.
If you provide competitive pricing, commit to in-store experiences (all of them, from the utilitarian to the entertainment-focused), and remove obvious sources of consumer frustration, then you’re ahead of the competition already.
Bobby Marmahat is the CEO of Raydiant, a digital signage and in-store experience solutions provider.
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