Customer Experience Brand DifferentiatorCustomer experience is such a massively important focus now for brands because they know it can be the most crucial differentiating factor in their collective goal of brand loyalty.

Increasingly, companies understand the importance of delivering a superior customer experience.

In fact, according to a new study, “The Retailer’s Imperative: A Strategic Approach to Customer Experience,” the vast majority (80%) of retailers plan to increase their customer experience budgets. What’s more, a third of those retailers plan a significant increase of more than 10% from their current levels.

The online survey, which was sent to more than 225 senior marketers at North American retail companies with annual revenues of more than $100 million, was conducted by Econsultancy in conjunction with SDL. 

To gauge how clearly brands perceive the importance of delivering a great customer experience, consider this: Nearly half of retailers strongly agree with the statement: “Our customer experience is our brand.” That figure swells to more than 80% when those who simply “agree” are included.

When asked about the ways they can differentiate themselves and attract new customers, retailers were varied in their responses.

Despite the realities of commoditization and competition, most retailers point to product offerings (54%) and price (45%) as their primary methods for attracting new customers. For 45% of retailers, content is a tool to grow their audience, often in tandem with social reach.

Omni-channel retailing is cited by 22% of marketers, reflecting the challenges in creating a truly seamless experience, but also highlights that it can be a powerful differentiator for those that achieve it.

Many marketers are attempting to establish true integration across systems and technologies. The

The research shows that North American retailer brands appreciate the need for technology integration, as 97% cited integration of CX technology as “important” or “essential” to their growth. Yet only 40% described their relevant systems as integrated and cross-functional.

Mobile commerce is among the fastest growing segments in retail, as smartphones and tablets play bigger roles in the shopping journey. More than 50% now say they have a strong understanding of the mobile user experience. But, only a third of retail marketers (35%) believe they can differentiate using mobile.

According to the study, the challenge is for retailers to move beyond usability in mobile and advance to more sophisticated merchandising. This presents a challenge in creating an experience that’s simple enough for the small screen, but involves the consumer with the brand and opens up opportunities for continued shopping and customer loyalty.

“Mastery of the customer experience is a challenge with many facets,” Paige O’Neill, Chief Marketing Officer, SDL, said in the study. “Retailers are overwhelmed by Customer Experience Brand Differentiatorthe complexity of data, technology and understanding of the customer journey. Our latest research indicates that North American retailers are acutely aware of their technological shortfalls when it comes to creating a seamless, personalized customer experience across multiple channels.”

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