Customer experience is one of the leading ways that brands seek to differentiate themselves today. Here we take a look at the current customer behaviour trends that we’re seeing within CX, particularly within ecommerce, and what we can expect to see more of in the near future.
This one comes largely courtesy of the pandemic. ‘Cocooning’ is the phrase used for when consumers partake in experiences at home that they typically would have done outside of the home. This could be anything from watching films and eating dinner in takeaway form, to enjoying beauty treatments.
Whilst the pandemic accelerated this trend, it’s something that is likely to continue into the future. Companies such as Birchbox are capitalising on this trend with their monthly beauty subscription box. Customers can enjoy the physical experience of trying out new beauty products (and then purchasing the ones they like) all without leaving the house. Alex Valibona, Managing Director at Birchbox, described the model as “bringing (customers) an experience that is more convenient than just trying out products in a store.”
Of course, sustainability has been a focus for consumers for a long time now. This shows no signs of changing, and it’s something brands need to take seriously from a customer experience point of view.
For example, Unilever is proof of the rising importance of sustainability from a consumer perspective, with the company’s sustainably-driven brands reportedly growing 69% faster than the rest of the Unilever portfolio.
A hybrid retail model and bespoke CX
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of ecommerce, and this has in turn ramped up consumer expectations when it comes to convenience (for example, a long-winded, convoluted returns process no longer deemed acceptable by consumers: it’s too slow and frustrating, especially in a world where so many competitors are offering a faster and easier alternative).
Katie Avon, Director of Marketing for Grosvenor Group suggests that ‘bespoke experience’ could be the next step for CX, using the example of a concierge-like service in the retail sector: “You can choose clothing from a retail brand, they can be delivered to your door, and you can try them on in real time, whilst the person who’s delivered them is waiting outside. That, for me, is real bespoke luxury convenience that, I think a lot of people are concluding, you don’t automatically get from the big mass-market providers.”
Retail brands should also be considering a ‘hybrid’ retail experience. For example, Browns Fashion now offers the traditional brick-and-mortar experience combined with digital technologies in a way that creates a new type of CX. Customers are able to try on clothing ‘edits’ in the store, take them away, and choose what they want to pay for and keep at a later time.
Katie Avon believes this hybrid approach could also help with the much- needed regeneration of the high street: “I am optimistic where brands get that mix right, and it is elevated and different, the centre of London will benefit from that, because people will want to combine a real life bricks-and-mortar experience with the convenience of digital that isn’t just that anonymous giant, Amazon, ecommerce offer.”
Current CX trends suggest that the role of stores will need to be experiential, a place where customers will be able to experience brands in different ways.