Image Courtesy of Nike
Customer touchpoints have evolved significantly since the pandemic disrupted the retail industry two years ago and brands have a unique opportunity to rethink how they connect with consumers.
Traditionally, touchpoints encompassed the physical interactions customers had with retailers. This included a customer’s first experience with a sales associate, the checkout process, or any number of other interactions that happen inside a brick-and-mortar.
That’s not always the case in today’s world as many of these interactions happen among the numerous digital channels brands’ have assembled.
Choosing to interact with brands via digital channels doesn’t necessarily change the architecture of these touchpoints, but consumer expectations have changed in recent years and retailers must do more to meet customers where they’re at.
Increasingly, modern customers are looking for retail touchpoints that are connected and contextualized at every turn, according to a 2020 report by Salesforce.
The evolution of retail touchpoints
This is a tough proposition for companies that favor more traditional customer journeys, but for many, they don’t have much of a choice.
Customers expect seamless touchpoints so much so that one poor interaction in a single department could throw an entire experience. As of 2020, 76% of customers expect consistent interactions over the course of their journey and that percentage is only going to rise as channels become more seamless.
“People expect to be able to engage across multiple touchpoints anytime and seamlessly transition between them. Companies need a full picture of what that journey looks like for any individual, and understand their pain points,” said Catherine Findiesen Hays, co-author of “Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints.”
Consumers are also spending more time at home on their devices—a change that’s prompted retailers to deliver more personalized, digital services that are both engaging and interactive.
By 2020, an estimated 60% of retail touchpoints were digital and 75% of customers used multiple channels to complete a transaction. Of course, the more seamless digital channels are, the better—but they’ve got to be connected, too.
Digitally native brands capitalize on connected touchpoints
Among social channels, brick-and-mortar locations, and a company’s website, brands are getting better at providing connected interactions across each of their channels, no matter if they’re online or offline.
What does this look like? For a brand like Nike or Sephora, connecting with customers during every step of their journey is a must.
In Nike’s case, the brand built out its online infrastructure with highly personalized experiences including a 3-D sneaker-customization platform, its NikePlus membership that allows customers to get more interactions within its stores, and its virtual store in Roblox called “NIKELAND” that’s brought in an entire demographic of new customers.
For Sephora, boosting customer touchpoints is all part of the brand’s incredibly successful loyalty program. Customers have the opportunity to gain loyalty points by booking clothing consultations, trying on products virtually, asking for product recommendations using AI, and using the brand’s app in any way they please.
The use-cases for Sephora’s loyalty points have changed over the years, but the end result is the same: Sephora’s loyalty program has brought in more than 25 million members and in 2018, members accounted for 80% of the company’s total purchases.
What’s really important?
Building seamless, connected touchpoints doesn’t happen overnight and brands should expect to work especially hard to engage with customers in an increasingly digital environment.
Not every company will have the capacity to build a virtual store within the Metaverse, but diversifying the kinds of touchpoints available to customers will impact an audience’s growth, retention, and perspective.
Either way, engaging new customers has never felt so important in the wake of a two-year-long pandemic, broader personalized experiences, and changing consumer expectations.