The brand experience in a physical store is obvious, from the moment a customer enters to the moment they leave. Whether it is the signage outside the shopfront, the staff guiding them through the store and fitting rooms, or the purposely placed logo behind the checkout as they move to pay, every stage of the shopping experience is influenced by the visual brand and the environment that a brand creates.

In an online or mobile shopping experience, many would assume this is the same. Consumers are all too familiar with the way brands target them through native advertising, lure them onto a site, and then push products from that brand based on the available data. However, what is too commonly overlooked and is costing brands, is the online and mobile checkout experiences. While a brand’s logo is visually present at the online checkout page, the brand experience often ends there.

Customers want to experience your brand, not the technology powering it

Many marketers would describe their brands and businesses as filling a market gap, addressing an unaddressed consumer or business need, or innovating to provide solutions to problems their customers do not yet know exist. In other words, brands tend to strive to be leading or ahead of their customers’ expectations. Yet, the majority of businesses across Australia and New Zealand recognise that when it comes to customer experience, they are merely keeping pace with customer expectations or lagging behind.

The reality is today’s online checkout experiences often feel like another world for the customer. They are smoothly transitioned from a search engine or social media channel onto an ecommerce page, beautifully photographed and displayed products are tailored to reflect the latest design and user experience trends, and then, the checkout appears. The checkout, instead of being a seamless continuation of their experience so far, is clunky and rife with administration requests. Filling in the address section alone takes 30 seconds longer than any other part of the customer journey so far, and the data entry typos that need editing cause extra frustration.

Instead of experiencing the brand, the customer is experiencing the technology. Unless your brand is literally selling the technology at the point of sale, this is where the brand experience can fall apart. In the best-case scenario, the customer may forgive the brand for the added friction and awkwardness, but brands cannot rely on this outcome. In fact, most customers are likely to take their business elsewhere if their experience does not meet their expectations.

Technology should be out of sight, out of mind

Retailers have the biggest sales season around the corner and cannot risk delivering poor customer experiences. This includes lagging or confusing point of sale experiences. While technology often holds the solutions retailers need to make online or mobile sales happen, it should not get in the way of a smooth customer experience.

The less technology is seen and felt by the customer, the more likely they are to sustain a connection and loyalty to the brand following the checkout stage. Something as simple as automating the address verification section at the online checkout can not only fasten the overall checkout experience by priceless seconds, but it can also continue the customer’s experience of a smooth, slick, and engaging brand.

Every brand will have a different strategy leading up to the Christmas and holiday shopping season, and having a brand that breaks through the noise and stands out from competitors will be crucial. Equally important will be the need for that brand experience to sustain itself from the moment a customer comes across it online, to the moment their purchase is processed and delivered to their door.

Carol Chris is regional general manager for Australia and New Zealand at GBG.