B2C eCommerce

The Importance of a Unified Brand Experience

4 May 2018

Today, consumers are unforgiving when it comes to their customer experience. They look for good and efficient service and are quick to judge when things don’t live up to their expectations, especially online. Everything needs to be fast and easy to use or they will likely go elsewhere. At that point there may be no going back. 55% of customers state that a frustrating online experience has a direct impact on their opinion of the brand overall.  What’s more, 91% of customers who have had a bad experience wouldn’t do business with that company again.  The stakes are therefore extremely high and retailers have to recognise that one bad experience can have a profound impact on how their brand is perceived, regardless if the issue occurred online or offline. There is a flow on effect that carries through all channels.

Have you ever visited a store and went online later to find the online experience was just not the same? Or worse, the products you were interested in were not even available online. Or maybe you found what you were looking for but the checkout process was so clumsy on your mobile device that you gave up. These are real-life scenarios that customers still come across. It’s therefore no surprise that retailers who actively work to remove these barriers and present their customers with a unified experience, no matter how many touch points, find they not only have happier customers, their customers also spend more and keep coming back.

In today’s time and age, 55% of consumers will in fact pay more for a better experience.  As such, it is key to create a consistent brand experience to improve customer satisfaction and retention. It is what consumers have come to expect with 87% reporting that brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience across all channels.

Recreate Instore Experience

Firstly, it is important to consider the product offering itself. Is the online product range limited in any way? Do the products reinforce brand proposition? Do the online categories make sense to the end user and make browsing easy?

As soon as a potential customer lands on a homepage, they will evaluate whether the offering is good enough for them to stay around. The product range therefore has to be showcased just like a store window is merchandised, ensuring customers know what to expect when they walk in.

Retailers cannot expect their customers to sift through an extensive list of categories. Instead, the homepage has to advertise key product categories and clearly communicate any sales, discounts or promotions.

Product attributes and key features that are important to customers also have to be established, clearly communicated and utilised through filtering and sorting options. When it comes to apparel, is there sufficient information on sizing to enable customers to make informed choices? If products are technical, are comparison or guided selling tools being deployed? Are featured or popular products or even better, personalised product suggestions being presented? Do customers have the option to make contact through an online chat tool when they need assistance?

The needs of the customer have to be top of mind throughout the shopping journey and the right technology should be deployed in order to recreate the instore experience for a best in class online experience.  

Integrate the Online & Offline Experience

More often than not, customers use both online and offline channels when they interact with a brand. They may browse and try on products instore but place an online order on their mobile phone at a later date to pick up it up on the way home from work. 

Instore pickup for online orders is only one way to merge the online and offline experience. Retailers can look at allowing returns at any physical store regardless of where the original purchase took place. VIP and loyalty programmes can be integrated to allow customers to redeem their rewards online and instore. Mobile apps can be utilised to send push notifications in real-time as customers walk past physical stores. Gift cards can be integrated to enable customers to purchase gift cards online, use them instore and vice versa. Post-purchase feedback should be sought out proactively and processes need to be put in place to respond, either through email or a phone call or better yet, customer feedback is followed up on next time the customer visits a store. 

Ultimately, customers need to be able to move seamlessly between digital and human interactions, have access to real-time information and fully functional mobile capabilities to support a multi-touch shopping journey.

Consistent Branding

Consistent messaging between different channels is important to create a coherent brand image. If the copywriting, overall tone and syntax is not coherent, consumers will take notice and naturally become more sceptical of what is presented to them. The way brands communicate with customers instore, on the phone and through the online store needs to match the overarching brand personality, core values and resonate with the target audience.

Images are just as important in conveying brand identity. The lighting, background and angles all contribute to the overall experience with a brand from the moment customers walk into a store or land on your website.

Using strong and consistent messaging, design and imagery throughout sales channels shapes the way consumers perceive the brand, building trust and loyalty over time.

author:

Sina Braeuning

date published:

4 May 2018