Let’s face it, we could all do with feeling a little special right now. 2020 was highly disruptive, not to mention divisive, and none of us knows what 2021 will bring.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the way customers research, purchase and obtain products and services, while simultaneously brands and retailers have had to change operations, open new channels, and generally do more with less.
Trust and loyalty have never been more important, and there is no better way of making your consumer trust you than demonstrating to them you understand their needs.
Fear, uncertainty and consumer sentiment in times of crisis
2020 was a year of uncertainty, and consumers are fearful of what’s to come. So far, Australia seems to have weathered both COVID and the resulting recession reasonably well, but this doesn’t mean consumers feel any less insecure.
But at the same time, in many ways consumers are looking for a sense of normalcy and security anywhere they can find it – and brands absolutely have a role to play in this by offering them empathy, as well as rich, meaningful and personalised experiences.
Forbes recently reported 90 per cent of customer service organisations say customer service is more important than ever in these times of crisis. This presents a stunning opportunity for brands to not only meet, but exceed, customer expectations, thereby securing their trust and loyalty in the years to come.
Three quarters of consumers agree if a brand understands them on a personal level they are more likely to be loyal. However, nearly half of consumers say brands don’t meet their expectations, and two-thirds of customers could not recall when a brand exceeded expectations.
A disconnect between what consumers want and brands deliver?
While investing in the right innovative solutions to scale personalisation has been embraced across Australia, it seems there is still a significant disconnect between what marketers think they are delivering, and what they actually are delivering.
The reality is, Australians are turning their backs on brands which disappoint them, with 70 per cent saying they often abandon a brand or switch to a competitor when the online experience is poor, and 42 per cent stating they find it difficult to locate the information they need on brand websites.
This presents a significant opportunity for brands to take a hard look at personalisation in order to give the consumer what they want and help them to feel more special now and into the future.
Technology and the critical need to connect with the customer
Many brands have eagerly jumped on the digital bandwagon to sell their products, enjoying the cost efficiencies it offers. However, in their haste to use the tech, they have forgotten the basics of marketing – human connection.
Technology can facilitate a human connection, but it cannot be a replacement for it. So while marketers set ads to follow a prospect around the internet, or collect loads of irrelevant data on customers, what they are actually achieving is a disconnect, rather than a connection.
Fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff is a great example of using technology to forge a connection. The company identified an opportunity as its customer service team was always fielding questions about the look and feel of its products. Rebecca Minkoff incorporated 3D models and AR functionality to its product pages.
They were developed through technology available through Shopify Plus, allowing for augmented reality to bring motion to products through 3D modeling. Rebecca Minkoff zeroed in on more than 50 pieces from its collection, transforming how they were displayed on its site—both on desktop and mobile. An AR view of the bag allowed shoppers to virtually place it in front of them. Suddenly, interacting with a product from afar was not simply an exercise in scrolling through website photos.
The brand found its 3D models and AR renderings weren’t just giving customers a new vision. They were encouraging a deeper connection to the products, which in turn was resulting in a deeper commitment by shoppers to complete their purchases.
According to the company, shoppers who interacted with a 3D model were 44 per cent more likely to add it to their cart than those who hadn’t. Of those visitors who interacted with a 3D model, they were 27 per cent more likely to place an order than those who hadn’t. When customers viewed a product in AR, Rebecca Minkoff says they became 65 per cent more likely to make a purchase.
Almost 70 per cent of consumers expect retailers to launch an AR app within the next six months to cope with the challenges of retail in COVID. Despite this, nearly two-thirds of companies don’t use AR at all. However, by using technology Rebecca Minkoff increased its connection with customers, and improved its bottom line in the process.
Special offers for special customers
One of the best ways to make a customer feel special is to present a personalised offering at the right time.
When the team at Peepers learned the brand was going to be featured in O Magazine, they needed to act fast. Peepers turned to Shopify Plus to quickly and dramatically improve its customer experience in time for Oprah. It built and launched a redesigned site, which includes many of the desired features that weren’t possible on the old platform, like more diverse product views.
Across its checkout experience, once a visitor adds an item to their cart, Peepers displayed a custom free shipping motivator showing how much more the customer had to spend to qualify for free shipping. They’re also running split tests and experimenting with different accessories offerings, like eyeglass cases and cleaning kits, to optimise upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Peeper’s new site maximised conversions from the Oprah feature and continues to help them grow by attracting more organic traffic. Organic traffic conversion rates have grown by 25 per cent–30 per cent, and the customised checkout played a big role in driving that increase. Peepers has also seen a boost in average order value by 15 per cent–20 per cent.
The surprise and delight experience
The right technology solution can help open up exciting new opportunities for brands to continue on the journey to make customers feel special, and ‘surprise and delight them.’ The key is to partner with the right partner who understands all the micro-moments and touch points of your customer journey, and how each of these touch points can be leveraged to make customers feel that little bit more special.