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New findings reveal what U.S. shoppers expect. How retailers, bankers, and travel industry pros can capitalize

New findings reveal what U.S. shoppers expect. How retailers, bankers, and travel industry pros can capitalize

When shoppers mull a wardrobe upgrade, a credit-card offer, or a weekend getaway, do they act differently today when choosing what to buy? And when, where, and how they buy it?

The answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes.

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Recently, our firm Resulticks commissioned a survey of 1,001 shoppers from across the U.S.*  

We wanted to see just how well marketers in retail, banking, and travel/hospitality engage consumers, connect positively with them, and make good relationships stick.

Why these industries? As a group, they make up a big slice of the economy. They also serve as a pretty good proxy for other consumer-facing sectors and industries.

So, what do consumers most want? Convenience and personalization. They want shopping experiences that are easy, swift, pleasant. And they want those experiences tailored to them.

Yet, when it comes to personalizing customer experiences, is any industry getting it right?

Our findings show that, to date, no industry has. Fewer than half (44%) of consumers surveyed say their retail shopping experiences—online and in-store—feel very or extremely tailored to them. Even fewer respondents say the same about their interactions with banks (38%) and travel and hospitality providers (28%).

A closer look at what we found, starting with consumers of retail goods, reveals even more actionable insights.

In retail, convenience and personalization rule

What do we mean by consumer convenience? For shoppers, it’s the ability to:

  • Find products and services easily and quickly  
  • Learn more about those offerings with ease
  • Get needed information in real time
  • Complete a transaction expediently through their preferred channel and payment method, anytime and from anywhere

We describe personalization as a relevant interaction with a business tailored to the individual shopper based on information the business has about that person. Consider the shopper who wants to refresh her weekend wardrobe. It’s a good bet she’ll think first of the retailer who knows her favorite brands and alerts her to upcoming sales.

Indeed, convenience and personalization are crucial elements of customer engagement today, across every channel and point of contact.

Online shopping and its growing appeal

Respondents cite convenience, free shipping, and saving time as the main reasons they shop online. These factors can guide brand managers when designing and prioritizing their online channels.

Here’s a breakdown of online buying patterns:

  • Directly, on store or brand websites (65%)
  • Search-engine websites (Google, Bing, and others) (43%)
  • Via offers, deals, or links (35%)
  • Mobile apps (30%)

Another reason brands need to get it right with their online channels: Competitors’ online assets will only grow in number, functionality, and sophistication, including AI-enabled, highly personalized interactions with shoppers.

In-store retail shopping. Dead? Alive? Somewhere in between?

Has the growing preference for online shopping dampened consumers’ interest in browsing and buying in stores? Based on our findings, not really.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents say they plan to do the same amount of in-store shopping today as they did a year ago. Among the in-store draws they cite: the ability to try on clothing, see its quality and features, avoid shipping costs and delivery times, and take items home immediately.

They also identify the singular experience of shopping on site as another big draw. Many consumers we polled like to shop in-store and online, sometimes simultaneously.

For marketers—and not only those in retail—the research supports a sure prediction: As shoppers engage with brands across multiple channels, brands will feel more pressure to deliver a seamless, cohesive omnichannel experience.

Abandoned shopping carts—stubborn reality or fertile opportunity?

Marketers seeking to make every consumer interaction as positive and “sticky” as possible [and what marketer doesn’t], should find our study of shopping-cart abandonment especially interesting. The term describes shoppers who add items to their online carts but exit the page/site without completing the purchase.

Consumers we polled cite these reasons (in descending order of frequency):

  • Needing more time to decide (37%)
  • Changing their minds (33%)
  • Unexpected shipping costs (29%)
  • Waiting for a sale or discount (21%)
  • Getting distracted (20%)

Marketers should take heart, though. Here’s why:

  • Employing “persistent” carts or reminder messages can be very effective in nudging consumers back to their carts to complete the purchase.
    • 42% of shoppers say that receiving a reminder (through email, SMS, etc.) would make them more likely to go back and complete the purchase.
    • Four of five shoppers tell us that, after abandoning their cart, they’d be more likely to go back and complete the purchase if they received a follow-up discount or coupon code (email, SMS, etc.)
    • Getting a follow-up email with similar cart items also would woo them back.
  • To convert even more customers, brands could use special limited offers to prompt a return to the point of purchase.
  • One more thing: Don’t underestimate the role of email in driving shoppers back to their abandoned carts. More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) say they prefer email prompts/reminders about those carts. That far outpaces the number of shoppers who’d rather receive notification through text messages, mobile in-app push notifications, and reminder ads on social media.

Of shopping-cart abandoners, 42% agree that getting a reminder (email, SMS, etc.) about their abandoned cart would make them more likely to complete the purchase.

These ways to resuscitate retail shopping-cart activity can work in other categories, too—such as travel/hospitality, banking, and B2B businesses.

The banking arena

In general, banks do a great job of “getting it right.” Nearly three-quarters of respondents say they’re extremely or very satisfied with their bank. The chief reasons they stay with their bank? Convenience, being a longstanding customer, and good customer service.

What motivates the 12 percent of consumers who say they’ll likely change banks within six months? The research points to the poor service they get now and the lure of greater convenience and better promotional offers elsewhere. The likeliest age cohort to switch banks? People 18-34 years old. (This same group uses debit cards more often, too.)

When choosing a credit card, consumers cite as their chief considerations cash back, annual fees, and loyalty points/rewards. Here, too, differences among age groups emerge.

For example, younger consumers express more concern about additional charges and fees, as well as minimum-repayment options. Older generations appear to attach more importance to annual percentage rates.

Two near-certainties come into view: If banks recognize and prioritize the right messages to their target audiences, they’ll likely see higher credit-card conversion rates. Also, as more consumers use mobile and online channels to conduct their banking, financial institutions need to ensure a seamless customer experience, especially in delivering customer service.

What can banks do better?

Nearly a third of consumers in our survey express high levels of interest (extremely or very) in a more personalized banking experience. So, despite the increasing commoditization of financial services, there’s still room for banks to differentiate themselves.

In brief, banks can keep their customers happy—and loyal—by:

  • Making convenience and customer service a priority across all potential touch points and interactions
  • Personalizing every banking experience, offer, and message based on the priorities of each customer

Hospitality/travel consumers

Our study reveals that, unlike banks, hotels need to work harder to get customer service right. Of the three verticals in our study, travel/hospitality appears to create the least tailored customer experiences.

When it comes to accommodations, hotels remain the most popular option despite the entry of less traditional providers of lodging. A full 40 percent of respondents say they often stay in hotels. Yet, of travelers who frequent them, only 23 percent indicate they are extremely or very loyal to a particular brand or family of hotels.

This suggests that each piece of the customer journey—online searches, booking, on-site/in-person experiences—can play a pivotal (even outsized) role in boosting loyalty to hotel brands. And, of course, from loyalty come higher revenues and a more positive reputation. 

One McKinsey study*** showed that the average purchase journey for finding a hotel room lasts 36 days and hits 45 touch points. With endless options and multiple touch points, hoteliers need to innovate new strategies to continue converting, engaging, and retaining loyal hotel guests across touch points and channels.

Key takeaways

From the opinions and views shoppers shared with us, we draw these concluding observations:

Consumers want to be acknowledged, respected, understood. They prize convenience and personalization. And they want a consistently good experience in every interaction with a product or service provider. That includes via websites, text messages, mailings, face-to-face communication, and every other point of connection.

Successful brands—and the teams behind them—will be the ones that remain constantly aware of the fragility of customer satisfaction and loyalty, and the need to keep winning that loyalty in every interaction, through every medium.

If a brand can ensure that customers experience enjoyable, seamless, and personalized paths to purchase, it’s doing things right.

*To order a copy of our report, please click here:
https://www.resulticks.com/evolving-the-customer-experience.html

**This report is based on a survey conducted November 8-12, 2019, and commissioned by Resulticks. Respondents were sourced from OpinionRoute. Our objective was to better understand shopping plans and trends in customization across retail, banking, and travel. The survey covered 1,001 consumers and is nationally representative. Margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

***How to serve today’s digital traveler, Alex Dichter, McKinsey senior partner, 2018

About Resulticks

Resulticks is a real-time, big-data-driven marketing cloud solution built from the ground up by experts in marketing, technology, and business strategy to deliver top-line growth. Outcomes-focused and enabled by the world’s first customer data blockchain, Resulticks equips brands to make a transformational leap to true omnichannel engagement. With its AI-powered, customer-centric approach and attribution at the segment-of-one level, Resulticks is changing how brands worldwide reach, acquire, and retain satisfied customers. https://www.resulticks.com/