Adapting to the Changes in Online Consumer Behavior
Online consumer behavior is constantly changing. There are more touchpoints and channels to connect with consumers than ever before. Keeping up with these steady and ever-present changes in online shopping behavior is the No. 1 thorn in the sides of retailers, according to a recent report by Retail Systems Research (RSR), sponsored by ATG, a subsidiary of Oracle, titled After the Storm: Connecting with the New Online Consumer.
"Retailers find themselves challenged to deliver personalization and relevance, particularly in an omnichannel world," said Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR and co-author of the report, in a company press release. "However, while the best performers have made greater inroads, everyone is struggling to keep up with a new environment where mobile and social make larger contributions to online revenues, forcing a shift in priorities for the online channel.”
The survey listed the biggest customer connection challenges retailers are facing today:
- keeping up with evolving consumer shopping patterns (64 percent);
- getting consumers to engage online (46 percent);
- maintaining growth rates (44 percent);
- managing the online assortment (39 percent);
- uncertain consumer demand being difficult to anticipate and plan for (32 percent);
- providing more ways for consumers to connect to their brand (29 percent);
- stemming cart abandonment (27 percent); and
- balancing online growth against poor store sales (12 percent).
The report then identified the top inhibitors keeping retailers from tackling the above challenges:
- insufficient e-commerce resources (59 percent);
- return on investment is too hard to quantify (47 percent);
- existing technology infrastructure is preventing them from moving forward (45 percent); and
- brick-and-mortar stores are more important to maintain and are a higher investment priority (20 percent).
How should retailers combat these challenges and their inhibitors? Their first priority should be to enhance the customer experience. The best way to go about doing this is by making sure your company has an executive dedicated to managing the customer experience. By having a single person (with other input welcome, of course) manage customer experience, your company's vision is unified and the opportunities to connect to consumers that are a strategic fit for your business will be better managed.
The person in charge of managing your customers’ experience must be willing to make conversations with consumers as easy as possible. By leveraging social media, brands can talk to consumers quite easily. This enables retailers to shift from being the "expert" to being a "friend."
Here are some more interesting findings/tips from the report:
- Ninety-six percent of those surveyed said a streamlined infrastructure is key to overcoming inhibitors.
- Don't undervalue or forget about technologies such as site performance monitoring, call centers and mobile sites.
- Continue to push competitive boundaries to stay ahead of the game.
While the business challenges identified here don't have distinct, cut-and-dry resolutions, retailers must adapt to the changing atmosphere and keep evolving with consumers’ behavior in order to provide the best possible online shopping experience.