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Whether shopping online or in a physical store, people today expect a superior customer experience. Fortunately, online retailers possess a wealth of information about their customers' needs, expectations, and behaviors. Do you know how to use the data you collect to improve the shopping experience? You probably have everything you need to provide a superior experience—if you know where to look and how to use it.

Key takeaways

  • Returning and new customers expect a superior and personalized store experience whether they're shopping online or in-store

  • Use the data you collect online and in your stores to improve the shopping experience

  • Learn to embrace omnichannel data and marketing, gather in-store shopping data, and improve location-based marketing

  • You should also encourage customer reviews, personalize the shopping experience, create intelligent replenishment models, and learn how to turn raw data into actionable insights

Why improving the customer experience is essential both online and offline

Online and offline customers alike expect certain things from their shopping experience. If these expectations are not met, your current customers will become former customers and potential customers won't become customers at all. 

In addition to basic expectations such as competitive pricing and product availability, today's customers expect an omnichannel experience that is consistent and reliably superior no matter where they encounter your brand and products. More than half of all online shoppers check out products at offline retail stores before they purchase online. And more than 60% of in-store shoppers check out reviews and competitor pricing on their smartphones while they're shopping in person. 

Online shopping statistics.

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Customers also expect a personalized experience that presents them with the products that meet their individual needs in a way that fits their shopping behavior. A generic shopping experience doesn't cut it anymore; shoppers want a personalized experience unlike what their neighbors might receive. 

If you can provide a truly personalized shopping experience across multiple channels, you'll build a base of loyal customers willing to pay more for that experience. In fact, a study found that 86% of customers say they'll pay more for a better customer experience

If you can't provide an acceptable experience, you'll lose customers. A PwC survey found that 32% of customers would walk away from a brand after just one bad experience.

Important elements of the online shopping experience.

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How to use customer data to improve the shopping experience 

When it comes to improving the shopping experience for your customers, chances are you have all the data you need to make the right decisions. It's a matter of collecting, analyzing, and gaining access to the customer data you collect.

Here are just a few of the ways you can use customer data to improve the shopping experience—both online and offline.

Embrace omnichannel data and strategies

Today's customer journey typically spans multiple channels, media, and devices. They may gain initial exposure via social media, travel to a physical store to check out a product in person, look up product reviews on their phones, and place their orders on your website. You need to collect data from all these customer touchpoints and integrate that data to create a holistic view of each customer. 

Combining in-store traffic and purchasing data with online traffic, engagement, and conversion data helps you build a true omnichannel strategy. The goal is to create an omnichannel shopping experience that follows customers across all major touchpoints and enables customers to tie together their online and offline experiences.

Gather in-store shopping data

Data collection isn't the sole purview of online marketing. There is a lot of data you can collect from in-store shoppers. 

For example, you can use digital display kiosks to engage customers on the retail floor. When you encourage customers to use the kiosks to browse your store database, you can gain insight into what they're looking for by analyzing their search behaviors.

You can also employ in-store beacons that transmit marketing messages to customers' phones while they're in the store. Currently three-quarters of U.S. retailers have integrated beacon technology into their marketing strategies. And by tracking beacon data, you can better understand customers' in-store shopping patterns. 

Improve location-based marketing

Customer data you collect online can benefit your in-store shopping experience. Use online purchase data to track customer locations, then use that location data to drive them into nearby stores. You can do this by promoting local events and specials, as well as making product recommendations based on each location's seasonality and regional shopping trends. 

Encourage customer reviews and read them

Even customers who primarily shop in-store still read product and store reviews online. Encourage both online and in-store customers during the checkout process to leave reviews on your site and major review sites. You should monitor these reviews to respond to any issues raised and to learn from what customers are saying about your products and their shopping experience.

Gain insight into customer behavior to personalize the experience

Customers, both online and offline, crave a personalized shopping experience. The more data you gather about your customers, the easier it is to know what they want and expect and provide it for them. A personalized shopping experience can include some or all of the following:

  • Personalized product recommendations, based on past purchases and current shopping behavior

  • Personalized offers, deals, and coupons

  • Personalized add-on offers based on past buying behavior (and excluding products they've already purchased)

  • Personalized affinity shopping programs

Create intelligent replenishment models

Collecting extensive amounts of customer data provides insight not just into customer behavior but also into inventory movement. Employ intelligent sales and inventory models to predict when you need to reorder inventory to avoid both stock-out and overstock situations. This strategy applies to both in-store and online inventory. 

Turn data into analysis into insights

The key thing about customer data is that the data alone can only help you so much. You need to turn raw data into a detailed analysis that you can then use to gain insight into customer behavior and tailor your online store to create a positive customer experience.

That actionable insight is what enables you to improve the shopping experience, both online and off, and develop omnichannel marketing strategies designed to build your customer base and grow your business. 

For online stores, improving digital functionality will not only exceed customer expectations, but also boost retention and conversion rates and reinforce customer loyalty. This means building intuitive mobile apps, improving site layouts, consistently introducing and recommending new products, connecting with customers through CRM and encouraging customer satisfaction surveys and feedback.

Let Optimizely help you use customer data to improve the shopping experience

The more you know about your customers, the more you can improve the shopping experience both online and offline. Turn to the experts at Optimizely to better use the customer data you collect to improve your customer experience. Our Digital Experience Platform helps you deliver the personalized experience that today's customers demand, while our A/B testing ensures that you're always making the right data-based choices for both ecommerce and physical retail sales.

Contact Optimizely today to learn more about improving the customer experience.