By Patrick Allard
EVP and Chief Sales Officer
At a time when retailers are concerned about cost containment, they are also eyeing how to grow. Balancing the two is a challenge. What’s the best approach in 2024? It’s a timeless message, but the reality is that growth is rooted in customer experience (CX). Improve CX and you not only retain repeat customers, you attract new ones. Great CX drives organic growth, which is your least costly method to acquire new customers. It’s also your biggest differentiator.
At Radial, we work with our clients to evaluate how we can support their growth strategies. There’s typically a lot of talk about improving CX, not always a lot of actionable plans. Sometimes the best way to improve CX is to keep it simple and make sure you’re doing the basics really well. Other times it means scrapping CX initiatives that sounded good in theory but didn’t resonate with customers or failed to drive revenue. Other times it means implementing new technologies, partners, or processes.
With limited resources, optimizing CX in 2024 calls for a mindful approach that accentuates what is already in place, and affirms that your CX aligns with what customers truly want.
As you prioritize, I recommend addressing the following to optimize CX and stand out in your market:
Make customers feel secure. One of the top customer expectations we keep hearing is that people want to shop in a secure way with the payment methods of their choice. Our research data backs this up:
- 58% of consumers prefer brands with multiple payment options, with 60% using PayPal
- 48% are concerned over website security, while 45% are concerned with how a brand uses their personally identifiable information (PII)
- 48% have abandoned a cart because the website did not seem secure, while 45% left because they were worried how the brand would use their PII
We also found that one-third of consumers had been the victims of fraud within the last six months from the date of our June 2023 inquiry. This means customers are wary and more security minded than before. They want to know brands are securing their data and that they have multiple options when it comes to payment. That said, my colleagues in Radial Payment Solutions often counsel retailers on how to determine the right mix of payment providers and how to balance options with cost. You do not need to offer every payment method, just the ones that the majority of your customers prefer.
Prioritize meeting shipping and delivery expectations over speed. Today’s customers are more concerned about their parcel showing up when the brand said it would, than they are about getting the fastest shipping speed. It’s vital to keep promises and communicate proactively when delays or disruptions occur, then reset expectations. Customers also want clear order progress notifications, in as near real-time as possible.
Stop creating friction with returns. Yes, returns are expensive and in recent years have eaten up too much margin. But when it comes to customer experience, enough already. Adding friction into the already unhappy returns process will not create a positive experience. Brands need to rethink how they are addressing the cost of returns and look for alternative strategies to mitigate those costs rather than saddle the consumer with added expense and limited timeframes.
Do more than the bare minimum. Every retailer now competes on CX, product availability, delivery timeframes, shipping and return costs, and brand experience. To gain an advantage in this homogenous retail market, you must go beyond and provide value-added services. Take for example, the unboxing experience. In light of cost savings, many retailers just drop the full brand experience and ship with bare bones packaging, i.e., your item arrives in a box with filler and that’s it. Customers don’t remember you for that. What they will remember is a personal touch in a very automated world. The unboxing experience is your one opportunity to control exactly how your brand is presented with a 100% open rate. Make it special, add branded materials, gift wrapping, handwritten notes, freebies, and inserts.
Expect more of your 3PL. Many retailers are partnering with third party logistics (3PL) companies to handle everything from order fulfillment to payment solutions to fraud prevention to customer care. (Radial handles all of these.) I hear from many prospective customers that their existing 3PL simply didn’t live up to the CX expectations the brand had set, which cost the brand revenue and customer churn. You should expect more from your 3PL. First, a full-on partnership that invests in getting to know your brand inside out, that seeks ways to improve your success (not just make a dollar), and that collaborates with you to continually optimize your processes for industry-leading experiences. Don’t ever settle for less.
How Radial Can Help You Grow
Radial offers a full array of seamless services that meet your retail business where it needs support, and provides the automation, infrastructure, logistics, staffing, value-added services, and industry experience to enable you to improve your CX very quickly. We partner with you to optimize your systems, processes, resources, and to enable you to meet your customer promises from click to delivery.
Patrick Allard Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer
As Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, Patrick Allard is responsible for the company’s new business development.
Talk to us today.