By Oliver Jaeger, vice president of global marketing and communications for e-Spirit

‘The customer is king’ the saying goes. But while the expression might be as old as the trade itself, it matters now more than ever before. Customers don’t just expect to be king; they expect the full royal treatment. According to Walker Information’s Customers 2020 Report, customer experience is set to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator by 2020. This means that every interaction a retailer has with its customers directly affects revenue – either by drawing shoppers in, or pushing them away.

Customer expectations are high – they aren’t looking for cheap and cheerful, they want personalised experiences whilst on the move. For today’s shoppers, buying online should be equally easy and satisfying as browsing the aisles. This means website content must be current, personal and available on any device. Engaging customers with consistent and relevant content across all touch points is now a key element of retail success.

And this has not gone unnoticed by retailers. Research from JDA and PwC revealed 64 per cent of UK retail chief executives believe improving omni-channel capabilities is a top priority to enable growth.

So how can retailers keep their customers engaged from shop floor to website?

  1. Consistency
Producing consistent content across all channels keeps customers happy and your brand on message. Recent research by Dynatrace found that nearly a third of UK consumers shop through a combination of online, mobile and in-store. This means that regardless of whether a customer is visiting the high street, browsing the web or using an app, their journey must be consistent to avoid disappointment. This requires an integrated approach that coordinates both digital and physical environments to support the entire customer journey. Only such a strategic approach to content management can guarantee consistency across all channels and result in a remarkable customer experience.
  1. Personalisation
With traditional factors like pricing becoming less of a consideration for customers during the purchasing journey, retailers must start to offer something different. Recent research by Forrester shows that, with the transformation of retail stores into digital stores, customers expect more personalised content and experiences across the board.The crux for retailers lies in delivering this content across all devices and touch points while still providing a personalised experience to their customers. Retailers now need to make sure that they don’t overstep the mark by becoming invasive and abusing customer trust. Only if retailers know their customers well and use this knowledge to provide content tailored to their needs, will they attract and retain the attention of customers.
  1. Get mobile
Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones while shopping in-store, but not only this, consumers are also browsing on social media sites including Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter more and more to seek inspiration of new products and trends. The future clearly lies in the mobile space and for retailers this means that creating and offering a professional online and mobile experience should be a priority. It is crucial that retailers provide content that is optimised for mobile devices in order not to fall behind the competition.

Looking ahead, the most successful retail operations will be those that use the Internet to enhance their bricks-and-mortar stores and vice versa. This digital transformation that retailers are going through is fundamentally changing how we communicate with our customers. This mutually beneficial symbiosis can be achieved by creating consistent and personalised content that can be accessed across all devices – including mobile! Only then will retailers attract and retain customers in the loud and crowded retail space.