How to engage with customers in the 'experience economy' and how tech and innovation play a major role across the board.
Attracting new customers is a challenge that preoccupies any retailer, but what is it that keeps customers returning to some retailers, time and again? For today’s demanding consumers, the answer is about far more than price or availability of product. It is all about the experience.
Customer experience is now the battleground for retailers, with 80% of customers in a Salesforce study saying that it is a deciding factor when it comes to choosing a brand1. This pressure is driving new ideas, breathing energy into the retail industry as it competes for customers’ hearts. Aided by emerging technologies, retailers have more opportunities than ever to understand and engage with customers, connecting more deeply and adjusting products and services in response.
So, what exactly is customer experience, and how can you improve it in your business?
Put simply, it is everything a business does that creates a better experience or interaction for customers, in ways that give them value beyond financial considerations. For some, this might be unique events and activities, while for others it might mean creating a friendlier space, such as a community hub within a town centre. What makes for a great customer experience can vary for different locations and community demographics, making it tricky to pin down.
Intimate customer knowledge is the key, of course. Digital technology enables more targeted strategies via online marketplaces, like Stockland Marketplace, it also allows for automated yet meaningful messaging, and provides your customers with attractive and tailored content.
Creating an omnichannel presence covers all bases and improves brand loyalty. Technology gives us a wealth of tools that can give us valuable insights into what customers want and need and helps to design the special creative touches that make your outlet stand out.
For more information about visit Stockland Marketplace for full details.
Engaging experiences at the shopping centre
When shopping in person, customers now expect more than just the basics from a town centre. This can be both a challenge and an opportunity for retailers. Those filling the gap with creative, experience-led campaigns are reaping the benefits. For a florist, the opportunity might be met by hosting a flower-arranging workshop in a centre space, while a chocolatier might conjure up an especially decadent Easter-themed experience.
These kinds of educational experiences have proven to be a winning formula for many centres. When we supported sourdough workshops during our Winter of Food Festivals, for example, bakeries relished the chance to educate customers and demonstrate their craft in an engaging and informative way. The workshops connected customers with their local baker through a shared experience, and this type of bond is exactly what customer experience is all about.
Other events relating to art, fashion, cosmetics, and food have provided similar valuable customer engagement. When retailers invite customers into their worlds, and show their passion for doing something special, the resulting experience is memorable and motivational. It translates into purchases that continue long after the event closes, so it is no surprise that many retailers are looking for event support from their property partner.
Local experiences create genuine connection
Across our town centres, you can expect to see more of these special events and activities, matched to local community culture and interests. Brooke Lee, Stockland’s General Manager of Commercial Property Marketing, has seen the results of community experience activities reflected in increased foot traffic and customer loyalty. She commented:
“Smart retailing continues to evolve. True customer engagement requires authentic, meaningful and relevant experience-led offerings.”
The core philosophy is to create experiences that customers will participate in, so they don’t stroll on or scroll on. In our busy world, they are seeking interaction and connection – particularly in their local neighbourhoods, where retail town centres play both an important social function and are increasingly a destination of choice for consumers.
Michelle Abbey, Stockland’s Executive General Manager, Town Centres, adds that creating a hub for local shoppers, with personalised service and community connection in an inclusive environment, had a profound effect beyond the greater “share of wallet” that occurred.
“We know customers will return more frequently and stay longer when they feel a genuine connection to our town centres,” Michelle said.
For more information about customer experience campaigns, contact us at National Retail Marketing.
- Second Edition. State of the Connected Customer, Salesforce research