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RETHINK retail podcast episode 1: Rethinking expectations

Assistant Director of Global Marketing

november 30, 2018

Explore how retail consumers' expectations are changing and learn about recent retail commerce trends with Valtech CMO Paul Lewis and special guest Veronika Sonsev, a Forbes contributor and retail expert.

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With mounting consumer expectations of what a retail brand should offer its customers, Sonsev and Lewis discuss the growing need to deliver united commerce, personalized experiences, and an ever-improving user experience overall. 

Comparing digital-first and bricks-and-mortar retailers

In their discussion, Sonsev points out the challenges being experienced by bricks-and-mortar-only establishments explaining, "Now that you can get products with the click of a mouse or a swipe of a finger, they [bricks and mortar stores] really have to be more creative about how they're engaging with customers. [...] you're seeing foreclosures from large retailers [...] stores are a key part of the marketing mix, but I think one of the challenges and opportunities at the same time is to rethink what a store is and how it plays into the whole experience. And that's what I think the industry is going through right now."

In contrast, Sonsev explains that digital-first retailers are, "innovating and really perfecting that consumer experience. And then that's starting to become the new normal. So it's everything from how easy is it for you to check out of my site, to how easy is it for me to track my package, to process a return or exchange, to ask questions, all of those things play into the consumer experience equation and in fact retailers are thinking about all the different ways they can optimize it. Because it's not just about the sale, it's about that net promoter score. It's about that referral that the customer is going to give you because he's delighted and you've exceeded his expectations."

Personalizing and unifying the retail experience

Sonsev goes on to say that, "Now there are a ton of opportunities for retailers that are willing to innovate and really invest in technology. I think one of the key areas of opportunity is personalization. [...] It's something that is an ever evolving challenge or opportunity to take on, so you may start with a website personalization, then you need to do marketing personalization both in terms of how you acquire customers, and how you do retention marketing."

Of customers being ready for personalized experiences, Sonsev remarks, "I actually think consumers are ahead of the curve, the consumers are ready. When you survey consumers they want more personalized experiences, they want them personalized in store in addition to online. Of course they want a great customer experience, who doesn't want to be delighted by the retailers that service them?"

She later argues that a unified commerce experience is something sought after by retail consumers, explaining that, "one of the things we also heard is that they also want that experience personalized in store, so if a consumer has looked for a certain product online, has done the research, they walk in the store, they want you to have that product, they want you to know that they want that product. They want you to help them. They want you to be educated about the benefits of the product. There's nothing more frustrating for consumers than they do all this research online and they come in to kind of do that final kick the tires, and the sales person that's there has no idea and can't really offer any more information about the product they are trying to buy. That's incredibly frustrating."

At Valtech, we excel at creating personalized and unified customer experiences for our global customers. Learn about Valtech Vantage, a technology that makes a unified online-offline view of the customer and associated behavioural personalization possible, in our recently released magazine: Valtech Mag_ Innovation

Shifting towards on-demand commerce

Later, Sonsev explains how many large ecommerce giants like Amazon are offering near on-demand commerce, "and consumers are getting used to this on-demand world, and they want that for shopping, so whether it's ordering their groceries and having them delivered in a matter of a couple of hours [...], being able to kind of go and grab the product in a convenient location, all of these things are driving some of these innovations that retailers are bringing to market."

Sonsev continues by saying that, "it's only going to get faster, only going to get more on-demand. And so, I think retail has to be prepared for that, they have to be ready to service those customers [...]"

Overall, when it comes to dealing with consumers' changing expectations, "I think what you're seeing, what the best retailers do is react to those expectations."

Listen to the podcast above for the complete discussion.

Listen to the next podcast in the series here.

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