The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

The Story Behind The Story

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My partner Paula’s article this week is a screed. It’s personal. And it matters. The data she references from our latest research, however, tells the story behind the story. How did we get here? How did we end up in a world where customer service is so routinely awful, and with offers and promotions that seem completely out of touch to shoppers?

Quite simply, most retailers can’t tell their good shoppers from their bad. What’s worse, they don’t even have someone in charge of what the customer experience could (or should) be. Consider the following:

Figure 1: Who’s Driving?

Source: RSR Research, February 2023

Fewer than half of the 95 retailers who responded to our survey can confidently say that they (a) know who their best shoppers are and, (b) have assigned accountability to a single “owner” to oversee the overall customer experience. Given the importance that retailers assign to adopting a customer-centric policy, this is just plan bad.

When we ask 1,000 US-based shoppers aged 18+ to reality-check how good of a job they think retailers are doing at offering a relevant shopping experience, most, as you might expect, aren’t feeling particularly appreciated (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Shoppers Not Feeling The Love – Even From The Brands They Like Most

Source: RSR Research, February 2023

Less than 4 out of every 10 shoppers report that retailers know enough about them to identify the products they may like, make offers that might be relevant, or perhaps most telling: make offers based on what they actually buy – not what a retailer may want them to buy. Mind you, this is their view of their favorite retailer – not the one they buy socks from, but the one they enjoy shopping with most.

Quite simply, consumers feel that retailers – even their favorite retailers – are still operating from a product-centric point of view. And they aren’t wrong. The fact that so few retailers can confidently identify their best shoppers explains why. The retail industry as a whole clearly has a long way to go to be able to offer consumers a truly relevant customer experience. As a result, much of the “our customers are the most important thing to us” language reads as lip-service to shoppers.

If you haven’t read the full report, it’s full of fascinating data that helps explain a) the growing frustration (or more the point – anger) of shoppers, b) why they increasingly feel vindictive towards even their once-favorite brands and perhaps most importantly, c) what retailers who want to stop this trend can do about it.

The report (like everything we publish) is completely free of charge.

Newsletter Articles March 16, 2023
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