I’ve been buying my groceries from the same major retail chain for the last 20 years. I’m happy with the quality of their food and household products. I used to spend 2-3 hours every Saturday/Sunday going through the different aisles looking for new items and interesting offers that sometimes persuaded me to buy food we didn’t need or like. Nonetheless, I used to enjoy this weekly shopping spree (to the annoyance of my husband and son), particularly when they refurbished the store and added a new range of in-store services. But increasingly, as a working mum under pressure to free up more time for the family, I decided that I no longer had the luxury of spending 2-3 hours on the weekend shopping and decided to resort to shopping online.
So, online I went, prepared to order my food from the same retailer, anticipating a quick and easy experience. Was it? What an experience! It took me 16 minutes to find the first two items on my standard weekly list of about 35-45 items, neither one was exotic or unusual, just two different kinds of bread. I gave up. How does a retailer who provides a reasonably good customer experience in-store miss the mark so widely online? Don’t they want to cater to their existing clients and attract new ones?
I was chatting with my neighbour about this when she suggested I use her retailer. I must admit I didn’t like this other brand very much, but when I tried navigating their website, I had a better experience—I could find things easily. I felt my sense of loyalty toward my long-time favorite brand grow weaker. After all, my entire reason for shopping online was to save time and make my life easier.
To keep me as a patron, the customer experience needs improving. How? Firstly, they could leverage the information they have about my shopping habits: They know a lot about me—I have a loyalty card with this store! They know what I put in my weekly shopping basket. As a customer I expect them to use that knowledge to facilitate my experience when I go on their website. For instance, they could suggest the items I shop for every week and also use the opportunity to draw my attention to new offers that are relevant to my basket or profile. That’s what a “knowledge-infused Web self-service experience” provides—a technological innovation they are seemingly lacking.
What else they could have done? They could have offered proactive online help from one of their agents using “Chat” or “Co-browse” capabilities, allowing me to link to an agent who could help resolve my issues. They could have predicted which offers could be of interest to me based on my regular shopping basket, and presented them to me.
My retailer may ask: Is it worth investing in enhancing the online customer experience? Yes, it is: According to the UK Trade & Investment website, online retail in the UK is set to top £77bn in 2012, 13% up on the previous year. And unless my retailer provides a differentiated online customer experience, it runs the risk of losing loyal clients like me and, obviously, not attracting new ones.