Customers Like Me

Sometimes I think retailers are their own worst enemy. OK, that applies to plenty of companies in other industries, too—but I digress.

Consider: 90% of holiday shoppers polled say they expect a consisent customer experience across channel and devices this holiday season, according to a recent survey of 3,000 consumers by SDL. Sure, it’s the holiday season, so the survey is about holiday shopping, but certainly that preference applies year round. I know it does for me.

Let’s examine the frustration of inconsisent pricing. Example 1: I purchased a gift for nearly $300 at Best Buy this past summer. When the recipient had an issue with it about a month later, Best Buy was going to credit only the current sale price—closer to $200. But it wasn’t on sale online (believe me, I checked!); conveniently, it was on sale in-store only. (Fortunately, it was under warranty, so the store replaced the item.)

Example 2: This morning my mom was going to purchase a gift for a friend at outdoor and sporting good retailer Dick’s. She called to ask my opinion, so I went to Dick’s website to see gear it sells in a specific category. I was about to recommend an item when I saw that it was $10 off online only. I bought it for her to save her the money. She wound up with the better deal—but only because she had called for my opinion and I did some virtual showrooming.

Yes, those two scenarios ended well, but not without their share of frustration first.

Really, it’s no wonder so many shoppers showroom—60% do some showrooming, the SDL survey found. It’s not just to check competitors’ pricing, it’s to check a retailer’s own pricing. (Half of holiday shoppers use their mobile device to research gifts before purchasing them in-store, according to the SDL survey.)

How about this: Many channels, one price. Sure, have the occasional store- or online-only sale on everything to encourage customers to use a particular channel, but this whole mystery pricing model is just a poor customer experience. Other frustrations: 47% of holiday shoppers are frustrated when in-store impressions are different from online impressions and 40% cite disparity between the information available online versus in-store.

“The disconnect between customer experience and ability to deliver is significant,” SDL CMO Paige O’Neill said to me during a recent conversation about the survey. “It’s because customers want what they want: ‘If I can have Amazon experience, why can’t I have that everywhere?’”

The issue with these inconsistencies? Churn. According to the survey, the top two reasons shoppers polled are loyal to their favorite brands are “consistent, predictable service and a consistent experience across all devices they use to interact with a brand.”

And when it comes to customer experience, 66% of the consumers SDL polled say they’re willing to pay a premium for a positive customer expereince. Make that 66% plus one.

 

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