5 signs of evolving customer expectations

Customers want more from retailers. It’s not that they’ve deliberately set out to be more demanding, it’s simply something that’s happened over time and a trend the pandemic has accelerated further still.

The combination of new technology, social media, ecommerce and our always-on culture has meant that consumers want more than service with a smile. They want (and expect) service that is fast, reliable, personalised and super-efficient.

As a Forbes article points out: They’re not making customers like they used to. Which means retailers need to offer customers an omnichannel service that spans online, offline and everything in between.

A recent post on Internet Retailing brings together the latest research into how 2021’s customers want to buy products and services and what retailers can do to meet their expectations.

1. Speedy delivery

According to research by mobile and IoT provider SOTI, having to wait for an item to be delivered is the most frustrating part of shopping online. Almost four in ten (39%) of those questioned for the From Bricks to Clicks: State of Mobility in Retail 2021 report agreed.

In fact, a faster delivery time is one of the deciding factors for customers when choosing which brand to give their cash. Three in ten UK respondents said they prefer to buy from brands that will get items to them in the shortest amount of time, while 37% would look for an alternative retailer if an item had a delivery time of more than two days.

Click and collect is also proving a popular option, with 45% saying they’d prefer to pay online and pick up from a physical store if that meant getting an item on the day of purchase.

2. Liberal return policies, please

Shoppers have always liked free and easy product returns. Many choose to shop with retailers who they know will take products back hassle-free and the SOTI research shows this is still the case in 2021.

Well over half (58%) of UK shoppers claim they would buy more from a particular store if they were confident it offered a simple returns process. Meanwhile, 64% said they’d like to see an automated returns process to speed up the retail experience.

3. Personal data: handle with care

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the volume of personal data retailers hold about them – they know where they live, what they eat, what they like to do in their spare time, etc. Payment details are also a concern, with 50% of SOTI’s respondents saying they’d previously abandoned an online purchase because they didn’t trust a particular ecommerce site with their bank details.

Generally speaking, consumers are more likely to trust bigger retailers (63%) when it comes to keeping their personal and payment date secure. Many respondents (45%) also said they felt anxious about a smaller retailer’s ability to keep their data safe.

Speaking about the importance of customer confidence around data security, Sarah Edge, director of sales, UK and Ireland at SOTI said that retailers, “need to give consumers peace of mind that their data and money are safe, [and offer] a unique customer experience that takes in everything from finding the right product, through to payment and delivery, to renewal or returns.”

4. Buy local, or bye local

Over the past 12 months, grocery delivery slots have been like gold-dust, causing many consumers to look to their local high streets instead. With big supermarkets dealing with higher demand, the number of people searching Google for local product availability has shot up. A study by NearSt estimated 6.3 million people checked local product availability online last year.

Despite evidence in the sharp uptake of ecommerce during the pandemic, it’s important not to overlook the even more dramatic growth in local search. Consumers are focusing their attention on local, independent retailers, which is encouraging news for high streets everywhere.

5. Bog-standard loyalty schemes won’t cut it

Loyalty schemes are everywhere, but customers want more than your average scheme. According to research by Adyen, 55% feel that loyalty schemes don’t give them what they want, while 62% think retailers need to improve the way they reward customers.

Instead, customers want a more connected experience, moving seamlessly between online shopping and bricks and mortar shopping. Customers are willing to stay loyal to retailers – as long as they show willing. That might be letting them buy items that are out of stock in-store and having them delivered to their homes (60%), or allowing them to buy online and return in store (53%).

Meeting customer expectations

Ecommerce has placed convenience and usability at the centre of the customer experience. It’s now up to retailers to offer the very best of the physical and digital worlds to create exceptional customer experiences.

At Delta, we’re on hand to empower brands and retailers, helping you deliver dynamic multichannel marketing solutions. To find out more, get in touch with the team today.