Retail Study: Six Truths Your Customers Want You to Know

by Shannon Warner on Nov 30, 2014 8:00:00 PM Digital Marketing, Consumer Behavior

Six Truths Your Customers Want You to KnowShoppers know retail better than you do. But in the name of innovation, many retailers are implementing new systems without first finding out what their increasingly technologically savvy customers want. They forget customer empathy, and that’s a big mistake.

In the fifth annual Cognizant Shopper Experience Study, we asked 5,300 shoppers for their opinions—and they gave us an earful. Their responses provided the reality check retailers need to stay in touch with shoppers.

Here are six, sometimes painful, truths that emerged from the survey, and shoppers’ advice for more useful digital experiences:

  1. Too much of mobile retail is disappointing. Although 52 percent of survey respondents have made purchases on mobile devices, fewer than half (45 percent) found the experience satisfying. By comparison, 65 percent rate airline m-commerce as satisfying. What consumers want you to know: “Beef up your m-commerce research and browsing capabilities because we really like mobile shopping. Retailers that make it easy will get our business.”
  2. Promotional posts on social media are annoying. To consumers, social networks are for connecting with family and friends. Seventy-nine percent dislike retailers’ use of the medium to influence purchases. Another 83 percent bristle at product recommendations. What consumers want you to know: “Social media is a highly personal space. Use it to listen, analyze, and learn—but not to communicate.”
  3. You want our personal details? No thanks. Retailers’ requests for personal information tap into deep consumer skepticism regarding data and privacy. Shoppers are especially unwilling to share credit card numbers (69 percent), household information (64 percent), and phone numbers (61 percent). What consumers want you to know: “Focus on the information we are willing to share: shopping preferences and personal milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries. We like it when you notice us and offer perks.”
  4. New services are convenient, but failure levels remain high. No one likes broken promises. While shoppers love the efficiency of buying merchandise online and picking it up in stores, they also report long lines, unfilled orders, and poorly trained associates. What consumers want you to know: “Cross-channel integration is helpful. Make it work by improving the elements that enable it to succeed. Create supportive policies. Re-engineer processes. Train employees.”
  5. No half-hearted loyalty programs, please. Sixty-two percent of consumers agree that loyalty program membership is beneficial. But only 26 percent say it’s important for retailers to operate compelling programs. Satisfaction regarding value and ease of use is low, especially compared programs from the airline and hospitality industries. What consumers want you to know: “Even if your organization doesn’t have a formal loyalty program, develop a plan to encourage us to engage with you. We want real value and convenience from your organization. When it comes to loyalty programs, we also want transparency: full disclosure of intent and no covert data manipulation or unwanted promotion.”
  6. Top online retailers set the digital-shopping gold standard. Follow it. Shoppers have high expectations for online retail and low tolerance for failure. Retailers face a long to-do list, and not every change can be made at once. But by following shoppers’ usability preferences, retailers can prioritize digital improvements. What consumers want you to know: “When it comes to online shopping, value the qualities that we value: ease of finding information; easy returns; fast, simple checkout; and consistent cross-channel experience.”

Customer empathy is the underpinning of all strategic imperatives. By putting themselves in their customers’ shoes, most already know how to win.

Photo courtesy of stockimages,

Shannon Warner is AVP of Digital Transformation Planning and Strategy at Cognizant Technology Solutions.

Shannon Warner's blog
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The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.