woman on laptop in kitchen

Source: Getty

Excellent customer experience begets loyalty – regular audits will ensure your offering meets consumer needs

The customer experience is the battleground on which grocery fortunes are being won or lost and no player can afford to slacken their efforts.

Supermarkets and grocers constantly need to test out new technology and ways of delivering value for customers. Even if trials don’t pan out in the way hoped for, they still provide useful lessons in customer behaviour and attitudes. For instance, Sainsbury’s trial of a cash and card-free outlet in central London has been tweaked to add a manned till and self-checkout kiosks.

It seems customers wanted a widening of their checkout options, not a direct replacement of one option for another. But the trial has helped Sainsbury’s define its tech investment strategy going forward.

Delivering a great customer experience (CX) matters, particularly with your online proposition, as increasingly the first contact a new shopper has with your brand will be a digital touchpoint. It might be a local search for a last-minute commuter shop on the way home, a hunt for a recipe or someone taking their first steps towards online grocery ordering.

UK retailers en masse are delivering a better online retail CX than other countries, according to the latest joint Kantar-Google analysis of shopping experiences across 17 territories. Based on asking respondents to assess the CX of the last three retailers they had shopped at online within a given category (such as groceries or apparel), it shows 79% of British shoppers rate their online retailer as ‘excellent/very good” versus a 69% global average.

Excellence begets loyalty – the research shows that after having made an online purchase at a given retailer, only 17% of British shoppers (vs 22% globally) have stopped purchasing from that store.

Focusing on grocery, the research shows a definite improvement on ‘fresh delivery of groceries’ – up 57% versus 52% at the last measure. This is reassuring – at the beginning of the year I wrote that there was a detectable shift in consumer sentiment regarding online grocery due to improved propositions, together with increasing consumer confidence in online purchasing.

The reality check is that customer expectations are rising all the time–, so retailers must put in the effort to maintain their current CX rankings. Customers are curious and demanding, so to meet their expectations supermarkets and grocers need to keep focused on the key online capabilities.

For the grocery sector, a capability checklist should include relevant recommendations, inspirational recipe ideas, a frictionless contact or chat function for service (only 35% satisfaction rating among respondents to the overall retail poll), minimum charge or free delivery (satisfaction rating for all retail: 48%) and website personalisation. Oh, and because customers are also impatient, it’s important to build delivery tracking into online grocery orders and improve guaranteed delivery times and dates.

I recommend you regularly audit and benchmark your online offering – there are plenty of free CX journey mapping templates available to help you see where you’ve improved and where you might need to pay more attention. With the run-up to the festive period getting closer, it’s more important than ever to fine-tune your online shopping experience.