Is digital defining the shopping experience?
According to a new Deloitte study, digital platforms such as Facebook and Google “are operating at such scale now that they are shaping customers’ definitions of what a great customer experience is.”
The study, “The New Digital Divide: The future of digital influence in retail,” pointed to the limitations of a single retailer creating a “meaningfully personalized experience” with its customers. They estimated that the customer likely interacts with a retailer six to eight times per year and mostly in a transactional manner.
“Contrast this with the kind of relationship, trust, and understanding of preferences and purchase intent that a digital platform like Facebook or Pinterest can create when they interact with that same customer for several hours a day,” Deloitte wrote in the report. “As a result, almost universally, customers’ preferred method of locating, buying, and receiving products in-store has been redefined by their online experiences.”
Outside social media, the study found two-thirds of consumers now prefer a self-directed shopping journey, up from 30 percent in 2014. Deloitte wrote, “The browser curates the exact assortment they are seeking, far more quickly and easily than a visit to the mall.”
Deloitte’s main advice for stores: Further integrate with those digital platforms. The report states, “Retailers should embrace the native capabilities of their digital touchpoints and integrate with platforms where their customers are already interacting at scale rather than trying to build such platforms themselves.”
Traditional budgeting and ROI measures have also not kept pace with shifts in customer behavior, Deloitte argued. For example, the study found that few retailers leverage an integrated budgeting/planning process that plans holistically across channels. This often results in double and triple counting key metrics such as customer interactions and failing to recognize programs that are decreasing in productivity.
Deloitte wrote, “The pull of these traditional structures is so great that these retailers, should they remain overly outwardly focused on their competitors’ practices, are destined to remain 12–24 months behind in recognizing and meeting their customers’ changing needs.”
- Deloitte Study: Digital Influence Redefines the Customer Experience – Deloitte
- The new digital divide (study) – Deloitte
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are stores losing influence over the purchase journey due to the scale of digital interactions? Why have retailers struggled to respond? Do traditional budgeting and ROI measures have to be revamped to help retailers become more responsive to customers’ needs?