With the worsening cost-of-living prompting hard-pressed consumers to cut back – with Barclaycard reporting as many as 50% of shoppers say they’ll have less to spend on Christmas this year – how can brands and retailers support the cost-of-living consumer in their buying journeys as they head into their most critical sales period of the year? And how will customer engagement strategies need to evolve to forge and strengthen relationships with shoppers at a time when conversions and sales are harder won than ever?
To find out, the Retail Connections team caught up with former Head of CRM at Missguided and ex-Holland & Barrett’s Nicola Fox, Greg Turtle, Head of Growth at what3words and Aykut Subekci, New Channels Lead at online gaming firm Product Madness, at MoEngage’s recent #Growth Summit in London earlier this month.
Revisit and re-evaluate the buying journey to make continual improvements
With the rising cost-of-living, consumer buying journeys are lengthening as shoppers become more considered about where and when they buy – and if indeed they buy at all. And this requires the role of customer engagement to shift to better support customers and nurture them in the path to purchase.
For ex-Missguided’s Hannah Fox, the emphasis was upon recognising that customer engagement is changing, thinking about your shoppers’ cross-channel buying journey and considering where the opportunity for engagement lies across those touchpoints. This needs to encompass off- and online and should involve strategising about how customers can be better supported and interacted with during their path to purchase. “It’s about adding in layers of support, rather than causing cross-channel friction,” she said.
“By revisiting and revisiting the customer journey, you can re-evaluate how your shoppers are experiencing your brand across each touchpoint.”
Hannah Fox, former Head of CRM, Missguided
Go to where your customers are – but only when it makes sense
Product Madness’ Aykut Subekci started the discussion around the importance of testing and trialling new channels to unlock engagement with new or different audiences. He pointed to the need to understand that platforms or channels where you have traditionally had good levels of engagement won’t stand still – consumers will change their usage patterns platform to platform, and channel to channel.
“Customer experience is changing across every ad platform – it’s increasingly hard to reach new users on Google and Facebook, so consider which platform is best to reach and engage new shoppers when deciding where to place ad spend.”
Aykut Subekci, Product Madness
what3words, the app that has given every 3 metre square of the world a unique combination of three words to enhance ecommerce, delivery and navigation, has taken the strategic decision not to advertise to customers on its platform. It believes this would interfere with the user experience – instead its revenue comes from licensing and partnerships with ecommerce technology providers, postal and emergency services who use the app to locate users down to a 3m square on its geocode system.
“For our ‘customers’, who are users of the app, engagement is about reminding them we are a service and we are there for them when they need us – whether that’s meeting up with friends at a festival, getting an ecommerce parcel delivered to your hard-to-find house or location or letting the emergency services know exactly where you are if you run into difficulty. Of course, those are three very different scenarios, but it’s important that our users know we are there to support them in each of them.”
Greg Turtle, what3words
Make commerce conversational – customer engagement needs to flow both ways
Part of this nurturing and supporting buying journeys also needs to be reflected in how brands communicate with shoppers, allowing for a more human and empathetic relationship to be created, rather than purely a transactional one.
Fox also pointed that this would prompt a shift towards conversational commerce – consumers are so used to communicating with each other on apps like WhatsApp, that they now expect to be able to have a two-way conversation with retailers and brands on that channel.
“Consumers want to chat to businesses like they chat with their friends,” she said.
And recent research in Infobib’s latest trends report, which analysed 153billion customer interactions, showed that demand for WhatsApp interaction in buying journeys was up +87% already this year, showing the shift towards conversational commerce is already here.