Low prices and availability: They long held the title as top customer demands. But it’s time to make way for new leaders, many of which are based on the changing retail landscape and the growing use of consumer technology.
For example - customers once insisted that merchants support both cash and credit card payment options. The variety of different technology-enabled payment methods today has put more demand on merchants in this regard. Similarly, businesses formally felt the need to have many cashiers on hand to ensure short lines at the register. With the proliferation of ecommerce and mobile options, waiting in line can be eliminated entirely today.
Technology has certainly changed the shopping landscape and consumer expectations have followed. So what exactly are consumers demanding from merchants in 2016?
1. An effortless experience
Apple Pay launched in Canada in November 2015, but payment innovation marches on. MasterCard is already developing technology to make nearly anything payment-enabled, such as jewelry, key chains, and fitness bands. This concept could eliminate the need for traditional payment methods altogether - simply wave the keys you are already carrying, or the ring you are already wearing, in order to make a purchase. As more effortless technologies emerge, consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to convenience and efficiency, so the more advanced your payment capabilities, the happier your customers will be.
2. On-the-go accessibility
Mobile technologies let shoppers shop on their own terms, whether it’s during their workout at a fitness centre, at their child’s soccer practice, or even during a work meeting (don’t worry, we can keep a secret). In “The Death of Cash,” it was predicted that there would be more than 47 billion mobile transactions worldwide in 2015. Supporting mobile purchases by making your business as mobile-friendly as possible, is a true asset. Even in-store experiences are becoming more mobile. Merchants can offer payments via mobile devices throughout the store, and even at pop-up locations. Consumers are accustomed to having everything at the tips of their fingers, so be sure you are within their reach.
3. Personalized attention
Flooding people with irrelevant emails is a good way to get your brand synonymous with SPAM. Any correspondence should be targeted and personalized to ensure that it’s both well received and has impact. A recent study showed that “while 66% of marketers rate their efforts at personalization as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent,’ just 31% of consumers report companies are consistently delivering personalized, cross-channel experiences.” As often as possible, try to personalize emails and social media posts. Respond to customer comments and inquiries, and put a face to your business. Showing customers that you are not just an organization, but a group of people that are interested in meeting their needs, is critical delivering a personalized experience.
4. Peer approval
Product and business reviews have become a staple for online shopping. From helping to right-size a shoe order, to evaluating the durability of a toddler toy, consumer reviews strongly educate buying decisions. The data doesn’t lie:
- 90 percent of customers' buying decisions are influenced by seeing positive online testimonials
- 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
“The 4 ARMS of Online Reviews” shows how you can improve your online presence. Also consider reaching out to social media influencers and reviewers for helping to raise awareness of your business. Word travels faster than ever these days.
5. Speedy and efficient checkout
It comes as no surprise that customers are strapped for time and want to wrap their purchases up as quickly as possible. Faced with the need to wait in a long line, or spend excessive time at an otherwise slow checkout counter, many customers will simply abandon their purchase. Ecommerce businesses face a similar fate if they have lengthy information requests or a difficult online checkout process. Make sure that your brick-and-mortar stores are well staffed and trained to ease checkout for customers. For eCommerce sites, offering a variety of secure payment options and seamless integration of your payment processing solution with your shopping cart/website will make for an easy, quick and convenient checkout experience.
Technology will undoubtedly continue to shape the merchant-consumer relationship and change shopper expectations. For now, stay ahead of the competition by responding to customer demands as much as possible.
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The information in this article is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal, business or other professional advice or an endorsement of any of the websites or services listed.