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How CX can help Aussie retailers thrive in uncertain times

  • Written by Written by Michael Ricciardone, Country Manager for ANZ, MoEngage


This week saw the sad ‘fire sale’ of Australia’s most beloved retailer, the 184-year-old David Jones. The news comes as the country's retail market faces another period of uncertainty amid rising inflation and waning consumer confidence. However, despite the news, retail leaders should not panic: the economy is not yet in a recession, and retailers will continue to see growth as long as they remain innovative in the digital age.

Customer experience – or CX – is one of the most effective differentiation markers for retail businesses during the purchase journey and beyond. A seamless, well-crafted online shopping experience allows brands to engage and build long-term relationships with digital consumers to drive sales.

Australia has famously been slow in its adoption of e-commerce, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, things have changed. During 2020, Australia saw one of the strongest growth in online sales globally, and if the Reserve Bank of Australia is right, 70% of consumers continued to shop online in 2022 and beyond.

Globally, customers are highly active on mobile devices and online channels, but Australians are quite mixed, using the web and mobile to make purchases while still enjoying the physical experience.

As such, the first step in creating any CX program is making sure your strategy encompasses all channels. Email is a dominant channel in Australia, especially for brands' latest offerings and shipping details. Push and SMS notifications are also increasingly playing a dominant role in providing order updates and appointment reminders.

A recent study revealed that 91 per cent of Aussies interacted with brands over two or more different channels, such as in-store, website, and app. A prime example of this physical-digital confluence can be seen in the strong uptake in the number of Australians doing click-and-collect shops for grocery and electrical items.

Multichannel engagement has become imperative for any successful CX strategy in Australia. When executed successfully, a multichannel approach can create habit loops that encourage customers to use a brand’s product or service regularly, thereby improving customer retention.

The critical step in building a successful CX program is always considering customer-centric engagement. This means providing a smooth customer journey that engages customers at different purchase stages and touchpoints.

First-party data will serve as a critical tool in creating this touchpoint-led engagement. However, more important than the data are the insights gleaned from it. An insights-led approach will help marketers bridge gaps between different data points, enabling them to craft a customer-centric engagement and campaign.

Insights are also key to the final piece of the puzzle: personalisation. And this goes far far beyond just using your customer’s first name in your communication. It’s about listening to them and delivering experiences tailored exclusively for them.

Data-driven insights help build that individual picture. Information such as browsing habits, click-through rates, and purchase decisions all create a picture of a person’s interests and desires to which brands need to be attuned. They also help predict a customer’s behaviour, allowing brands to add personalisation from the very get-go.

Hyper-personalised experiences tailored to customers’ unique preferences will be a huge brand differentiator. According to our research, 91 per cent of customers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and relevant recommendations, making affinity-based segmentation a must-have for marketers in 2023. The most successful retailers will be the ones that successfully engage customers on a personal level across multiple channels while providing extremely relevant deals and content across the purchase journey.

Retaining customers has never been more important in Australia. The economic outlook is uncertain, and consumer behaviour has become more volatile as e-commerce and social media unleash a never-ending stream of deals, upgrades, and flashier products.

However, this is no time for marketers to sit back and accept the end of lifetime loyalty. Instead, it is an opportunity to use CX to improve customer retention in the face of a business crisis.

According to Forrester, the companies that lost their customer focus amid this year’s worsening economy in 2022 will create an inflexion point for CX 2023. Strong CX will give brands an edge in building and sustaining long-lasting consumer relationships, which will be integral to business growth and profitability. As such, these brands will have the space to meet their aspirations and ultimately thrive.

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