When it comes to shopping behaviour, price is always a key motivator. However, to sustain a customer's loyalty over the long term, retailers often find it valuable to focus on the customer experience, according to Synchrony Financial's 2015 Customer Experience and Impact Study.
Examining 27 elements of the shopping experience, the study identified the top four experiences that are most valued by customers and translate into greater spend and loyalty for retailers.
The survey gathered shopper input on the most and least important elements of their experience, as well as factors that influence purchase decisions and loyalty. The study focused on apparel, department store and mass merchant retailers. Study participants included more than 1,000 consumers nationwide who make household financial decisions, have a credit card, and shopped at one of 35 retailers in the past 12 months.
More than half of shoppers say they would pay a higher price for the customer experiences they value most, and 77% of shoppers would be more loyal to stores that provide their personal top three customer experiences.
Of the 27 retail elements studied, four emerged as most valuable to consumers and indicate the importance of simplifying and easing the shopping experience. The top four elements include:
- Pick your own Sale Items ranked highest in the survey, with 42% of customers finding this a valuable shopping feature.
- Hassle free returns was noted by 41% of respondents as important, with favorite benefits such as no time limit, no need for a receipt and free postage on returns.
- No coupons needed to always get the sale price is key for 40% of participants who automatically want the lowest price without having to clip or find discounts.
- Earn points to redeem for extra savings is ranked by 33% of shoppers as an important benefit and may lead them to spend more with the retailer when rewards are easy to accumulate and redeem.
In addition to the four elements that matter most to survey respondents, aspects that contribute to the "best in-store experience" as described by shoppers in each retail category include:
- Apparel stores: 73% will shop more often as a result of helpful, attentive associates; clothes they like and a variety of merchandise; and good value and prices.
- Department stores: 62% of shoppers will visit more if there are helpful, courteous associates; value, affordability and good sales; and clothes they like in their size.
- Mass merchants: 57% of customers want a one-stop shopping experience and good discounts, deals and prices; the merchandise they want; and to make one trip with products that are easy to find.
Certain experiences matter more than others to different shopper segments. The vast majority of millennials (89%) indicate they would be more loyal to retailers offering the benefits they want most. Millennials (69%) and Gen Xers (55%) are also more likely to pay more for the experiences they value.
"Retailers that build lasting loyalty know their customer's preferences and integrate these elements into the shopping experience," said Toni White, chief marketing officer, Synchrony Financial. "This study reinforces the finding that purchase decisions are driven by positive, practical and personalised experiences, in addition to a compelling price/value equation."