Customer experience (CX) is the most important factor impacting customer loyalty
- CX has evolved from focusing on point of sale to connecting with customers in discovery and evaluation phase (DX)
- Merchandising experience is the next chapter in CX, providing a personalized shopping experience
- Retail data analytics can help retailers understand customer behavior and engagement with their brand
- Merchandising experience can drive benefits including full-price sell-through, inventory optimization, margin optimization, customer profitability, and customer loyalty
- Their AI-driven merchandising experience platform can help retailers get closer to their customers and drive revenue and profitability
It’s no secret that customer experience is the single most important element impacting customer loyalty. In fact, according to Gartner, companies that provide a great customer experience are up to 60% more profitable. But, where in the process should a brand or retailer start thinking about the customer experience? In order to properly answer that, we need to take a look back at the evolution of CX and where it is headed next.
Evolution of Merchandising Experience
Customer experience initially focused on the point of sale and beyond. This makes sense as the commerce function is the closest to the customer, so therefore the easiest to influence. This brought multi-channel and omni-channel experiences like “click and collect”. It meant that call centers moved from traditional 1-800-YOURBRAND and email to expanded digital channels like chat, sms and social. Customers enjoyed retail experiences that were more engaging in-store as well as online.
The next area of focus was on connecting to customers when they were in the discovery and evaluation phase, before the sale. This is called digital experience (DX). Digital experience with respect to retail means giving a personalized experience to a shopper. Ensuring that all of the information that consumers are willing to give is used to provide a retail experience that feels like the brand knows them. Of course, retailers are also collecting all of that information to help them get closer to their customer and understand how she behaves. We know that customers want to shop when they want, where they want and how they want.
Merchandising experience is the next chapter in the experience story. In addition to buying when, where and how they want, of course customers want to buy WHAT they want. Retailers who are able to truly understand their customers will now be able to apply those learnings and insights throughout the merchandising part of the journey - before the customers are even aware of the products that will be coming.
Benefits of Merchandising Experience
Getting closer to the customer at this stage in the product life cycle will drive huge benefits. Using retail data analytics to consolidate data and drive insights can help understand how customers behave and how they want to engage with you. Let’s take a look at some specific areas that can be impacted.
- Full-Price Sell-Through - Customers who know they can find what they are looking for at your stores or online will be delighted to pay full price versus run the risk of missing out on your latest collection. Driving up the full-price sell-through is one of the easiest ways to drive revenue and protect against markdowns. Customers spend less time shopping than ever before, so make sure they always find a winner in your brand by putting them front and center in your assortment planning strategy.
- Inventory Optimization - A more surgical vs. blunt approach to inventory allocation that considers customer behavior, geos and channels, alongside an ability to scale this activity across your entire business means you will carry less inventory.
- Margin Optimization - Drive sales and revenue by making sure customers are finding what they want and paying full price. But, also ensure you're pricing those products correctly the first time, negating the need for costly markdown activity while optimizing your margin opportunities. Combine this with the ability to control inventory, marketing, and other operational expenses and you will ultimately drive those costs down.
- Customer Profitability - Identify your most profitable customers and take a customer-centric approach to your assortment and pricing strategies with this cohort in mind to ensure you increase the LTV of each customer.
- Customer Loyalty - Consistency breeds loyalty. Be a brand that customers can rely on to find what they need and they will come back - and tell all their friends.
Now that you know what Merchandising Experience is, the next step is to infuse data driven insights into all of your strategic merchandising decisions from assortment to pricing and promotion to product exposure. Keep the customer front of mind in each of these steps and you will be ahead of the game..
At EDITED, we specialize in helping softline retailers drive customer centricity by using retail data analytics. Learn more about how our AI-driven merchandising experience platform can help your business get closer to customers and be more predictable at every stage.