After multiple years of nonstop disruption, retail and CPG brands must refocus priorities to meet customer demands.
Jan. 11, 2023 | By Megan Cohill and Travis Salazar
Leaders of retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands have been playing catch-up in the evolution of consumer experiences—and expectations—in recent years. As we set resolutions for the new year, here’s how these brands can reflect on what’s in, what’s out and where to focus.
Out: Relying on Brand Loyalty
Is brand loyalty dead? Not entirely, but it is no longer guaranteed. Today’s consumers have shown they value ease and quality customer experiences—and they’re willing to ditch their old favorite brands if they can’t keep up. Brands need to reframe their relationships with customers: it’s not about winning their business once; it’s about showing up consistently and earning their loyalty in every interaction.
In: Delivering Delight
Consumers want seamless, intuitive, personalized experiences everywhere—whether face to face or in the palms of their hands. It’s up to brands to meet the moment with unique, curated customer experiences that are consistent from online and mobile to in-store and curbside. This work doesn’t have to break the bank. Brands that know what their customers want can use tools like automation to enable personalization and deliver better experiences quickly.
Brands have the power to make their customers feel seen, heard and understood in every interaction. But first, brands need to know and understand who their people are.
Out: Making Assumptions About Your Customers
Customers have gotten wise to when they’re being served off-the-shelf ads and experiences, and they can tell when a brand is clearly out of touch. The days of an assumptive approach or a static marketing campaign are over. Brands that continue down this path risk alienating existing or future customers—or even losing out on an untapped market segment.
Targeted campaigns can reach the right audience at the right time. But first you need to make sure you know who your audience is and how to reach them.
In: Listening to Your Customers
The retailers who understand their buyer the best, the most, the fastest are the ones who will win business. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not always. Brands need to build out a 360-degree view of their customers if they want to improve customer experiences.
Consumers are telling brands who they are and what they want through every interaction:
- What they add to cart—and what they don’t
- When, where and how they purchase
- When they abandon cart
- How they interact with your website
- How they interact with your marketing campaigns and social channels
All these touchpoints tell a story. It’s up to brands to listen.
Retail and CPG brands have been facing an increase in abandoned carts and lost business. Why? Friction. Anywhere along the customer’s buying journey. This can come from long website load times, irrelevant recommendations, items being out of stock and unexpected shipping costs. Or it can be from inconsistent customer experiences from store to store or from in-person to online. Find your biggest friction points, like inventory visibility, and then fix them.
A survey conducted by The Harris Poll and Google Cloud made this concept real for brands with its findings on search abandonment:
- 94% of U.S. consumers abandoned a shopping session because they received irrelevant search results.
- Three out of four U.S. consumers report avoiding websites where they’ve experienced search difficulties.
- 77% of U.S. consumers view a brand differently after an unsuccessful search on their website.
- 75% say they are less loyal to a brand when it’s hard to find what they want on a website.
If your customers can’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily at the price point they expect, they will leave to find it somewhere else. And it’s not clear when—or if—they’ll come back to you.
In many ways, users expect to navigate their shopping experiences with the same ease they have when they use Google Search. According to TechCrunch, social media platforms like TikTok are working to meet those expectations by improving the search functionality on their apps.
Give your customers what they want before they even know they want it. For example, with Google Cloud’s Recommendations AI, you can fine-tune search results to help customers find what they’re looking for, whether it’s a “red shirt, not blue” or a “date night dress” for weekend plans. Give your customers the personal shopper touch by adding personalized recommendations:
- Items you may also like
- Items frequently bought together
- Customers also bought
- Trending items and best sellers
Start improving search functionality on your site through data. Think product catalogues and categorizations, user purchase history and site behavior. All of these lay the groundwork for a better search experience.
The Bottom Line
You can’t give customers what they expect and demand until you know what they expect and demand. And that starts with having your data in order: unified, cleansed, accurate, translated to insights and accessible to stakeholders across the enterprise in real time.
Most brands find this to be easier said than done, since their data may be gathered, stored and used in multiple places and by different organizations. Enlist a consultative partner like TEKsystems to help you break down silos across organizations and develop a data strategy for access to data you can trust to generate meaningful insights and drive better customer experiences.
About the Authors
With 20 years in the industry, Meg works alongside her customers to activate and build technology solutions. She helps them navigate the complex technology ecosystem to maximize their investments in digital, cloud and data. As a mom and avid consumer, she truly understands her customers’ customers.
Travis partners with retail and CPG customers to drive value and innovation through Google Cloud solutions. With 12 years in the industry, he understands the value of data and analytics and AI/ML to predict consumer behavior, create seamless, personalized experiences and drive growth. Travis found his passion for technology early on and brings that passion and know-how to every customer.
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