While shoppers are returning to high street stores and shopping malls, businesses across Australia must not forget – or overlook – the critical role of digital in this new age of retail.

Today, the busiest showroom for every brand is their website – and it’s a huge revenue opportunity. Australia Post found more than 80 per cent of Australian households bought something online in 2021 as part of a $62 billion national spending binge. This number is growing too, and is expected to double over the next five years.

As retailers rapidly scale digital storefronts and services, delivering positive and consistent brand experiences across channels is key. Consumers have never had more choice than they do today, whilst at the same time, it’s never been easier for them to switch between brands when their needs are not met. For example, Qualtrics research found more than half (54%) of consumers in Australia and New Zealand have switched brands because the customer experience did not match the brand promise.

With digital fast becoming the backbone of customer loyalty, prioritising these 3 actions will enable retailers to deliver a seamless, integrated and superior digital customer experience.

  1. Focus on meaningful outcomes and actions for seamless personalisation

The first step in improving the digital customer experience is identifying the desired outcomes and experiences the brand wants to deliver for itself and its customers. Adopting this mindset ensures the systems, processes, and metrics being designed and implemented to drive action – such as the questions asked as part of the customer experience program or the way leaders are enabled with insights – are focused on delivering the end goal.

Customers expect personalisation and consistency across all channels. This means it is important to have a single view of the customer, understand how they prefer to be engaged, what their intentions are, and what their journey looks like across digital touchpoints. Equipped with these insights retailers can take the right actions to greatly increase frequency of visits, conversions, and basket size.

It’s also important to seamlessly integrate every experience consumers have with the brand. For example, loyalty programs and marketing campaigns are a great way to add value to the customer experience. Orchestrating customers across channels is a powerful way to drive rich personalisation.

  1. Think beyond the purchase

Whether it is to lodge a return, troubleshoot an issue, or even leave feedback, consumers use digital channels for a range of experiences. As consumers increasingly turn to digital, harnessing the power of AI-powered chatbots and integrating digital into contact centres and support programs will ensure retailers are set up to meet customer needs.

Digital channels are a great platform for fostering customer loyalty and advocacy, and creating a lasting brand legacy too. Social media channels keep customers updated on new products and updates, while mobile apps are a great place to build on the relationship and foster loyalty.

Providing customers with the ability to contact the brand through digital channels is also good business. It is cost effective, and helps reduce the likelihood of negative reviews or complaints being left on external sites, which can influence the decisions of other consumers.

  1. Build a complete view of the customer

With digital now tablestakes for many retailers, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of how customers truly feel about their brand experiences to rise above the competition.

When it comes to analysing customer feedback, most organisations are only using solicited and structured feedback shared directly with them, such as through an NPS survey or sales data. However, when you consider 90 per cent of customer feedback is unsolicited and unstructured, such as comments on social media or a conversation with a customer service representative, retailers have a huge opportunity to create a more in-depth view of their customer.

Forward thinking retailers are removing blind spots from their customer experience by bringing together structured and unstructured feedback within their programs. These valuable insights are helping retailers understand why people opt for their brand over the competition, and what they can do to continuously improve the products, services, and experiences they deliver.

For example, we know one of the main drivers for a repeat purchase online is the checkout experience. In this instance, solicited data can only tell half the story – which is cart abandonment or poorly performing landing pages. When this is combined with unstructured data, retailers can understand the reasons behind the results being achieved, helping them make informed decisions on how to improve the process and drive outcomes.

Experience drives outcomes

The benefits of investment in customer experience are vast. Qualtrics research found that after a good experience, Australian consumers are 3.1x more likely to purchase again, 6.6x more likely to recommend a friend, and 5.3x more likely to trust the brand. Experience Management (XM) capabilities that enable action, drive personalisation, and combine multiple data sources have enormous returns across digital business activities.

With the right insights, organisations will rapidly and confidently deliver the fast, convenient, and personalised digital experiences consumers are calling for, building their reputation, and setting a platform for sustained success.

Adam Marks is strategist for Qualtrics CX Solutions.