Today’s shoppers regularly abandon online carts, visit brick-and-mortar stores then make online orders and comparison-shop mercilessly; leaving retailers with the challenge of creating differentiated and personalized shopping experiences to win the majority share of the shopper’s wallet.
Global research by IBM shines light on the behaviors and expectations of the “next-gen” shopper. These customers embrace, and are empowered by the latest wave of technology advances— and have a strong appetite for a more personalized shopping experience.
The 2017 Global Customer Experience Index by IBM Global Business Services (GBS) surveyed 507 brands across eight market segments in twenty-four countries. The study focused on seven areas of the shopping experience: personalization, digital experience, omni-channel supply chain, physical and digital integration, social media, mobile experience, and the in-store experience.
The results include finding significant opportunity for retailers to improve the customer experience: on a scale of 0 to 100, the overall Customer Experience Index average was only 33. Further, among the brands surveyed, only 3.4 percent are categorized as Leading Edge, scoring 60 points or more on the CEI, leaving great opportunity for a new approach to engage customers.
Even though over half of the brands were rated very good or excellent for their digital experience, research shows that it remains inconsistent. The study also found a mere 19 percent of brands offer more than a basic level of personalizing the online experience—which is far less than what today’s customer expects. Also, 38 percent of brands provide either a poor mobile experience or none at all, and only 31 percent of brands allow customers to access their data on a mobile app. The need for a seamless experience across all digital channels is imperative for retailers to build and maintain customer loyalty.
A frictionless shopping experience is particularly important for brands that want to appeal to the next big buying tribe: Generation Z. The births of U.S. Gen Zers outpaced millennials by 3 million, and globally represent a combined spending power of $44 billion. A survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) of 15,000 consumers age 13-21 from 16 countries shows that despite being “digital natives”—98 percent of this growing and high-spending demographic surprisingly prefer to shop in-store.
The study also analyzed their digital habits, finding 74 percent of respondents said they spend free time online, with 25 percent of Gen Zers spending five hours or more online each day.