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50% of consumers won’t shop with brands that greenwash

As consumer demand for environmentally friendly and green products grows, retailers could be risking lost long-term loyalty if their sustainability efforts aren’t genuine.

That’s according to research from Retail Technology Show, which surveyed over 2,000 UK shoppers in its latest ‘Retail Revolution’ report, with results showing that almost half (47%) already actively buy more from brands they perceive to be sustainable, rising to 65% of Gen Z demographics.

And demand for ‘green’ retailing among shoppers is growing; six in ten (60%) of those polled said retailers’ commitment to sustainability would become more of an important factor in their buying decisions over the next five years, rising to 67% of 18-25 year olds.  Meanwhile, a further 65% of 18-24 year-olds say they would shop more with brands who are sustainable in the future, and another 63% would be more loyal to those retailers with green values.

However, despite the growing appetite for green retail – with the green pound estimated to reached over £122bn – two thirds (62%) of consumers in another poll by Retail Insight were untrusting of retailers’ and brands’ eco pledges, believing they merely pay lip-service to sustainability initiatives.  This growing concern around ‘greenwashing’ prompted the CMA’s recent crackdown on brands, who will face fines if they don’t deliver on the environmental claims they market against.

And this consumer distrust on the sincerity of retailers’ sustainable commitments doesn’t just risk possible fines and reputational damage, according to Retail Technology Show’s research, it risks future sales and lost loyalty too.  Half (50%) of UK consumers in its poll said they would stop shopping altogether with brands they perceive to be greenwashing, rising to almost two thirds (63%) of Gen Z audiences and 59% of Millennials.

“Put simply, greenwashing just won’t wash with shoppers”, said Matt Bradley, Event Director for the Retail Technology Show.  “Consumers now expect retailers’ sustainability efforts to be deeply and genuinely rooted in the brands’ psyche, rather than it being any short-termist play.  And that means retail businesses need to carefully consider both how they can evolve their businesses operationally to be greener, and also how this is effectively communicated to shoppers in a genuine, transparent and engaging manner.”

Using less packaging was the top way UK consumers felt retailers could make their operations greener (78%), while a further 71% identified the supply chain as a focus for improvements, followed by 69% who said making bricks-and-mortar stores more eco would help retailers improve sustainability.  Almost half (48%) wanted retailers to pay an online delivery ‘green tax’ so the environmental impact of their ecommerce fulfilment operations could be offset, rising to 61% of 18-24 year-olds.

To find out more about the top trends impacting retail in 2022 and beyond, download the full Retail Revolution report for free: https://bit.ly/RTS_Retail_Revolution_Report

Mi Rewards loyalty programme approaches £1million milestone

A next generation town and city loyalty programme has introduced a new website and tools for businesses ahead of a key milestone for the scheme.

Mi Rewards, the town and city loyalty programme from Scottish fintech Miconex and loyalty platform Stampfeet, is approaching £1million in sales, with over 47,000 transactions.

The loyalty programme expanded across the UK in 2020 with launches in Enniskillen, Stoke-on-Trent City Centre, Guildford, Gloucester and Fleet. New schemes will launch in Barnsley and Kirkcaldy in 2021.

Originating in Perth in 2018, Mi Rewards is a payment card linked loyalty scheme with customers receiving rewards when they use linked debit or credit cards in participating local businesses in their town or city. Once cards are linked, the technology runs in the background and users don’t have to show a separate loyalty card.

A revamped website was introduced in May 2021 to provide support for new and existing Mi Rewards locations as businesses reopen following the latest lockdown. The new website features a greater focus on participating businesses, including a promotions page for the business to improve visibility and traction with potential customers.

In Kirkcaldy, Mi Rewards will also work alongside their Kirkcaldy Gift Card. Customers can link their Kirkcaldy Gift Card and get points when they spend it in participating retailers. Hazel Cross, is the Town Centre Development Officer at Fife Council:

“We launched Mi Rewards Kirkcaldy not only to encourage customers to the town centre but to reward their loyalty as they continue to love and support local businesses.   It’s a great, no hassle, rewards programme. Every pound spent at participating businesses turns into a digital reward point and with every 10 Kirkcaldy points collected over the month, you’re entered into a monthly town centre prize draw. 

“Kirkcaldy town centre has a great mix of independent businesses with everything from dinner to diamonds, carpets to coffee and spa days to sport, alongside a fantastic waterfront and weekly artisan market.  Everyone is encouraged to continue to support and love Kirkcaldy and Kirkcaldy will continue to reward you, not only with fantastic goods, services, experiences but now with Kirkcaldy reward points too.”

Barnsley is introducing Mi Rewards as part of its coronavirus recovery work. Chris Savage, project manager in the markets and town centre services team at Barnsley Council, said:

“Alongside the Barnsley Gift Card, Mi Rewards is part of Barnsley Council’s work to support businesses to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme is a great way to support the local economy in Barnsley, rewarding shoppers for spending with local businesses. We’re at the early stage of engaging with businesses to get them on board and will soon be announcing details of the monthly prizes. If you’re a business in Barnsley reading this, please contact us on towncentre@barnsley.gov.uk to find out how you can get involved.”

Gloucester is relaunching its Mi Rewards scheme following the latest lockdown. BID Manager Emily Gibbon from Gloucester BID said the initiative is vital to the re-opening of the high street:

“We have around 60 businesses on board across all sectors including retail, and food and drink. It’s useful for businesses because they can see who their customers are, who is shopping with them and where they are from, they can also reach out and gain new customers. Mi Rewards has a role in the re-opening of the high street, particularly as we approach step 3 in the road map.

“It’s important that businesses realise that they are not alone. They’ve probably tried various loyalty schemes in the past but this is next generation loyalty. We’re helping businesses to see the potential for Mi Rewards as a customer engagement platform, enabling cross pollination and businesses supporting businesses from one side of the city to the other and aligning with our motto- together we can achieve more.

“Anything new requires a change in behaviour and that takes time but customers are starting to realise the benefits of being a part of Mi Rewards, like exclusive offers and discounts. They get 1 entry into our prize draw for every £10 spent; the April prize was a £100 Gloucester Gift Card and the May prize is two £50 Gloucester Gift Cards, but we’re also looking into hampers, bundles and more.”

The Mi Rewards scheme moved to a points based rewards process in 2020 giving even low volume users the opportunity to win a prize, with chances to win increasing alongside usage. Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex, which also operates over 60 Town and City Gift Card programmes in the UK and Ireland, including in Enniskillen, Kirkcaldy, Barnsley and Gloucester.

“The vision with Mi Rewards was for a more efficient solution to the loyalty problem that businesses face. Traditional loyalty schemes have tried and failed. Mi Rewards is a next generation loyalty solution that approaches loyalty at a place level, bringing businesses together in a coalition, in a way that is beneficial to the business, the customer and the town or city.

“Places and businesses can use the data they receive to better understand their customers, measuring and identifying what works and what doesn’t, and rewarding local spend. Mi Rewards offers zero friction, positive user experience and huge potential for solving the conundrum of high street loyalty.”

Asaf Rozin is the CEO of London and Maryland based loyalty platform Stampfeet, and said one of the main benefits of Mi Rewards is the removal of issues with traditional loyalty programmes:

“With a traditional loyalty card programme, there is the constant struggle to get the data coming in. You can only get the data when customers present their loyalty card. With Mi Rewards, there is a one-off action on the customer’s behalf to link their payment cards. There is no need to train staff, and the business receives data as long as the payment card keeps being used; the customer can link as many cards as they like.

“Mi Rewards works on a token system. A customer links a card, say a Visa, and we receive a token. Every time there is a transaction, the Visa ID is matched to the token and the customer is rewarded. We don’t hold or store a customer’s card details. Both Apple Pay and Google Pay work in the same way.

“It is anticipated that Mi Rewards functionality will develop over time to allow businesses to offer their own prizes, keeping their own nature as a small business but within a platform of users in their area who are their potential customers. This will enhance business profitability and efficiency. Coalition loyalty has huge potential, particularly around mutual and partner offers, for example with a free coffee after you’ve had your haircut. Through coalition loyalty, we can drive spend in local high streets.”

Ecommerce revenues remain buoyed as bricks-and-mortar reopens

As the UK High Street experienced a boost in the first week of non-essential retail re-opening, the digital High Street also remained buoyed, with revenues up +2.5% week-on-week.

That’s according to data from Wunderkind‘s Marketing Pulse report, which says as consumers hit the shops after months of closure, traffic on the High Street increased +178%, and an estimated £1.6billion was spent in-store on the first weekend of trading.

Web traffic also saw a rise, increasing by +2.4% over the same period (w/c 12.04 vs w/c 5.04) – which the behavioural marketing specialist says illustrates sustained digital demand.

This, Wunderkind suggests, is not only indicative of the seismic – and permanent – shift to digital, but of the importance in understanding and connecting more closely with shoppers to drive long-term brand advocacy and increased customer lifetime value. 

Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, GM EMEA at Wunderkind, said: “There’s been much debate as to whether the boom in online could successfully be sustained once retail reopened.  And, from what we’ve seen so far, even pent-up demand for real-life shopping experiences in the first week of opening hasn’t deterred consumers from the ease and convenience of shopping online, suggesting the shift to digital is here to stay.  But the real test now comes in how brands and retailers connect and engage with their customers moving forwards, to turn the new cohorts who have come online into repeat shoppers and those existing shoppers into long-term brand advocates.” 

While web revenues and traffic increased on the week before, email performance dipped slightly with revenue down a marginal -1.6% week-on-week. 

“This slight drop in UK email revenue retail could be down to a number of factors;” Light-Wilkinson suggested.  “Non-essential retail opened on the same day as outside hospitality, which also coincided with the last week of the Easter holidays – this may have prompted many to step away from their desks and take time off to enjoy new freedoms, perhaps explaining the slight dip in email performance during the week.”

Social mentions for the words ‘hairdresser’, ‘shops’ and ‘pub’ all saw significant spikes on the first day of restrictions easing, according to social agency, the tree, up 277%, 276% and 272% respectively on the day prior.

Additional $900 Billion Spent Online at Retailers Globally in 2020

As Covid-19 kept consumers around the world at home, nearly everything from groceries to gardening supplies was purchased online.

According to Mastercard’s latest Recovery Insights report, this amounted to an additional $900 billion being spent in retail online around the world in 2020.

Put another way: in 2020, e-commerce made up roughly £1.50 out of every £5 spent on retail, up from about £1 out of every £5 spent in 2019.

For retailers, restaurants and other businesses large and small, being able to sell online provided a much-needed lifeline as in-person consumer spending was disrupted.

Roughly 20-30% of the Covid-related shift to digital globally is expected to be permanent, according to Mastercard’s Recovery Insights: Commerce E-volution. The report draws on anonymized and aggregated sales activity in the Mastercard network and proprietary analysis by the Mastercard Economics Institute. The analysis dives into what this means by country and by sector, for goods and services, and within countries and across borders. 

“While consumers were stuck at home, their dollars travelled far and wide thanks to e-commerce,” says Bricklin Dwyer, Mastercard chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute. “This has significant implications, with the countries and companies that have prioritized digital continuing to reap the benefits. Our analysis shows that even the smallest businesses see gains when they shift to digital.”

While the digital transformation has been neither universal nor consistent – due to geographical, economic, and household differences – the report uncovers several key overarching trends: 

  • Early digital adopters go into overdrive: Economies that were more digital before the crisis—such as the UK and US —saw larger gains in the domestic shift to digital that look more permanent than the countries that had a smaller share of e-commerce before the crisis. In the UK, the e-commerce share of retail sales pre-crisis was 22%, rising to 31% at the peak of the crisis. The current level stands at 24% and we expect this shift of 2 percentage points to be permanent. 
  • Grocery and discount store digital gains look sticky: Essential retail sectors, which had the smallest digital share before the crisis, saw some of the biggest gains as consumers adapted. With new consumer habits forming and given the low pre-Covid user base, we anticipate 70-80% of the grocery e-commerce surge to stick around for good. As an example, as a result of the lockdowns in the UK, roughly one-fifth of all grocery shopping is now done online.
  • Consumers increase their e-commerce footprints, buying from up to 30% more online retailers:Reflecting expanded consumer choice, our analysis shows that consumers worldwide are making purchases at a greater number of websites and online marketplaces than before. In the UK, people are buying from 22% more online stores, on average. 
  • International e-commerce rose 25-30% during the pandemic: International e-commerce got a boost both in sales volume and the number of different countries where shoppers placed orders. With infinitely more choices at their fingertips, consumer spending on international e-commerce grew around 25-30% year over year from March 2020 through February 2021. 

SME confidence holds firm ahead of Christmas period

For the first time this year, small business confidence has held firm from one quarter to the next – with marketing services sectors seeing growth forecasts rise on Q2 levels.

After the Government announced its three-tier Covid restrictions, new research suggests the avoidance of a second national lockdown and certainty of direction until March has had a positive impact on UK small business confidence.

The findings come from a rolling study from Hitachi Capital Business Finance that has tracked small business growth forecasts every quarter for the last six years. Before Covid-19 struck – and even during the period of the Brexit vote – the percentage of small businesses predicting growth for the three months ahead stayed at between 36-39% for six consecutive quarters.

In April 2020, this crashed overnight to just 14% of small businesses predicting growth. 

The UK’s re-emergence from lockdown in July 2020 saw a sharp resurgence in confidence, with the percentage of small business owners predicting growth for the next three months doubling to 27%. The latest data conducted this week by Hitachi Capital reveals that the percentage of small businesses predicting significant and modest growth remains unchanged since summer months (27%). Further, the Q4 data reveals the third consecutive quarter where the percentage of small businesses fearing collapse has fallen – down from a high of 29% in Q2 2020 to a current figure of 12% for Q4 2020.

Joanna Morris, Head of Insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: “Despite the changed context from the summer months, with Covid numbers now again rising sharply, our data suggests small businesses are reacting positively to the current circumstances. The avoidance of national lockdown and the consensus that there will be restrictions through until March has at least given small business owners a degree of certainty against which to plan. 

“Our figures for 2020 show that small business confidence has had sharp rises and falls since the pandemic struck. Our new research conducted the day after the Government’s announcement on three-tier restrictions gives the first reaction from the small business community. The stabilising of confidence levels between Q2 and Q3 is a really important development as it suggests smaller enterprises (that can operate) are adapting to the new reality – and accept the prospect that we may all be in for a long-haul fight against Covid.” 

By sector the research also gives a welcome boost for the high street. Ahead of the critical Christmas period, there was a marked rise in the proportion of retail small businesses predicting growth (up from 27% to 35% in three months). The property and marketing services sectors also saw growth forecasts rise on Q2 levels.  

Conversely, growth forecasts in manufacturing fell sharply (down from 30% to 23% in three months) – and the hospitality sector remained in a serious position; here only 18% of small business owners predicted any form of growth, whilst 53% predicted contraction. Overall 29% of hospitality sector small businesses predicted they would struggle to survive, more than double the national average (12%).

Don’t trick your customers this Halloween, treat them with spooktastic content

By Katharine Biggs, Content and Marketing Manager at parcelLab

When I read that notonthehighstreet.com searches for Halloween are up 889% and already features in its top five search terms, I had to stop and think for a second: it’s still only just September, right? And we’re talking about 2020 – the year when Covid-19 turned the retail world upside down and left many bricks and mortar stores with no other option but to shut their doors for good. And then of course there is the long-term economic impact which last month saw the UK declared officially in a recession for the first time in 11 years. 

As summer draws to a close, I’m sure many of us find ourselves in this position every year, asking ‘Where has this year gone?’ But this has been a year like no other and now we find ourselves with 79* days left until Black Friday and 107* days left until Christmas for brands and retailers to navigate what the “new normal” will look like, adapt and prepare for what is traditionally the ‘peakiest’ season in the retail calendar. 

But Halloween is usually a slightly different story. Generally, this high level of searching and buying activity isn’t expected until October but still with 52* days to go until Halloween, it seems that consumers are already planning out their frightful activities. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise; for three-months, families were confined to their homes and staying in has become the new going out. So if you can’t go out trick-or-treating under social distancing rules, what better way for families to celebrate than in their own haunted house? 

According to Leanne Osbourne, Commercial Director at notonthehighstreet: “Customer searches for Halloween products such as unique food and drink, partyware, decorations, games & activities and clothing/accessories traditionally increase around mid-September, but this year searches began in early August as customers are planning further ahead for special occasions and celebrating key dates in the diary with loved ones at home.”

Yet the almost 900% increase that notonthehighstreet has reported wouldn’t usually be expected until the week before Halloween itself. 

Where are shoppers turning for inspiration? The digital screen in their home or pocket, of course. Great news for ecommerce, multi- and omni-channel retailers! Well, yes. But only if you are making the most of this opportunity by maximising value for your customers, and that includes after they have checked out. The post-purchase phase of the customer journey, where customers are tracking their delivery via email and text updates, is a prime time to put all your Halloween marketing efforts to good use. 

With open rates as high as 75% – significantly higher than the standard marketing emails that brands and retailers might put out – these email updates are a great opportunity to engage your customer and offer them something of value – which, in the spirit of Halloween, could be anything from how-to video tutorials, decoration inspiration, candy treats or ghoulish recipe ideas and other themed content that shows you, as a brand or retailer, care about your customer beyond the sale. That’s the foundation of long-term brand loyalty right there. As well as letting them know how, when and who will be delivering their items, it’s an opportunity to up- and cross-sell complementary products that will add to their Halloween festivities and ensure that they don’t go looking elsewhere for it. 

It’s all about communication. Create an open dialogue through this channel with your customers and give them an exceptional customer experience. Show them that you’ve got this covered and they’ll be coming back for more, well after the fake cobwebs have been dusted from the party – in prime time for the peak season to come. 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Digital Insights: Tips to prepare for the Golden Quarter

By twentysix

The peak retail period of October to December (aka The Golden Quarter) isn’t far away and this year it’s going to be an interesting one. Following the “lockdown” disruption, 2020’s peak is going to be a vital sales opportunity for many retailers.

But how can marketers plan ahead when a global pandemic has turned everything upside down? How are consumers going to behave? Will they be in buying mode? Or will the impact of lockdown dampen demand as we’ve seen earlier in the year? Will there be a second wave and what will this mean?

Much of this depends on the course of the virus and as a digital agency, twentysix, we’re not going to attempt to predict that! But amongst the uncertainty, there are things we can still rely on: Christmas is still Christmas; people will still want to buy; and there will be pent up demand and a hunger for deals – all of which will open opportunities for your brand.

With lockdown accelerating online behaviours there is one thing that is certain; digital is going to be an enormous part of the mix for all advertisers. You need to make sure you have the right mix of channels with a solid foundation in search, affiliates and user experience to capture demand, alongside upper funnel activity such as display and social to help create it. But it’s not just about having the channels in place: success will also be about building the agility to adapt to conditions as they unfold – a must in this uncertain environment.

So whether it’s scenario planning, solidifying your technology and tracking foundations, assessing your SEO trajectory, or reviewing your website to ensure your UX is up to scratch, now is the time to start getting ready.

Download twentysix’s guide to the Golden Quarter to unlock 6 key principles to help you create competitive advantage, along with tips from the agency’s digital channel specialists to help you prepare for the most significant quarter of trading we’ll experience for some time.

Download the full guide here

Retailers failing at simple eCommerce best practice

Online retailers could be making more in revenues if they applied simple measures, such as appropriate product imagery.

That’s according to research carried out on 1,213 UK adults by agency MarketingSignals, which found a staggering 61 percent of those polled were put off purchasing from a website by insufficient or poor product imagery, followed by 57 percent that found product descriptions inadequate.

The survey also found that more than half (52 percent) of these businesses are failing potential customers with their lack of customer service, while 47 percent have overly intrusive discount pop ups on the home page, which can potentially detract users from making a purchase.

43 percent of those polled were put off by websites that has an over complicated checkout process, while 41 percent would be deterred by an e-commerce business which has little or no social media presence.

A third (34 percent) of those questioned said that a lack of delivery options would deter them from from making an online purchase, whilst a website that wasn’t optimised for mobile devices would put off 27 percent of respondents.

16 percent said they’d be put off from making a purchase if they couldn’t see company information or an ‘about us’ page. Completing the top ten reasons which deter users from making a purchase was customers who prefer to use alternative payment methods, with over one in ten (11 percent) saying that they’d seek to make their purchase elsewhere if a website did not accept the PayPal or Apple Pay.

Gareth Hoyle, managing director at marketingsignals.com, said: “It’s clear from the research that many potential customers are being put off from making a purchase from websites they are not familiar with, which makes it so much more important for e-commerce businesses to make the checkout process as simple as possible in order for them to complete their transaction smoothly.

“In this social media age, it’s perhaps unsurprising that 41 percent of Brits would be put off from making a purchase from a website that is unfamiliar to them and doesn’t have a visible social media presence.

“Internet savvy consumers are always keen to spot a bargain, though can be put off by over complicated or seemingly untrustworthy websites when attempting to make a purchase, instead opting to buy from a site they already know and trust. So what this research demonstrates is that it’s clear that there are simple steps e-commerce businesses can take in order to improve conversion rates from first time visitors to their site.”

The top ten reasons that deter customers from making an e-commerce purchase:

  1. Insufficient or poor quality product imagery – 61 percent
  2. Inadequate product descriptions – 57 percent
  3. Lack of customer service – 52 percent
  4. Distracting/Intrusive pop ups – 47 percent
  5. Over complicated check-out process – 43 percent
  6. Little or no social media presence – 41 percent
  7. Lack of delivery options – 34 percent
  8. Desktop-only site design – 27 percent
  9. Insufficient or lack of company information – 16 percent
  10. Not accepting alternative payment methods including PayPal and Apple Pay – 11 percent

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Retailers urged to embrace digital personalisation

Retails have been urged to extend personalisation at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, in light of more dire warnings on the state of the High Street.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG have noted the lowest sales figures since 1995 in May, which in a year plagued with closures and CVAs raises the alarm for further decline in the UK high street in the coming months.

According to Raj Badarinath, VP Ecosystems at RichRelevance, brands and retailers are desperately looking for a solution, but stubbornly ignoring the most critical factor: what customers want.

Badarinath asserts that instead of exploring their customers as individuals (not rough marketing-made segments) they keep holding on to outdated personalisation tactics that are clearly not good enough.

“It is disappointing to see retail sales falling year on year in the UK. It’s a tricky time for UK retailers – as they battle on multiple fronts: monopolies like Amazon, ankle biters such as DVNBs (Digitally Native Vertical Brands) and more,” said Badarinath.

“UK consumers today are short on time and inundated with the problem of choice – too much content, product, offers and more. Retailers should reduce decision fatigue by extending personalization at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, which provides the technical ability to do so for the first time. Retailers realize that the UK consumer is fickle and easily wooed, so techniques like hyper-personalization ensure a seamless, memorable customer experience, to increase repeat sales and improve overall lifetime value.”

Retailers ‘neglecting Twitter and Facebook for customer service’

Retailers are neglecting social media when it comes to customer service, and are not listening to consumers to drive customer experience improvements.

That’s according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, which found that while retailers successfully answered 59% of routine queries asked via web self service, chat, email, Facebook and Twitter, there were wide variations in performance between channels.

Retailers provided answers to 83% of queries on their websites but only responded correctly to 38% of tweets and 50% of Facebook messages. Performance had worsened on many channels since 2017 – then retailers answered 73% of emails.

By 2019 this had dropped to 68%, despite the continued popularity of the channel with consumers, who use it for over a quarter of their interactions with brands.

As part of the study, 20 fashion and food & drink retailers were evaluated on their digital customer experience, alongside brands from other sectors, by testing their accuracy and speed at answering relevant, routine queries, repeating research conducted since 2012. Questions included asking about ethical sourcing policies (fashion) and allergy labelling (food and drink).

Additionally, 1,000 consumers were asked for their views on customer experience.

Fashion (answering 60% of all queries) and food and drink (59%) were the top sectors surveyed but still failed to respond to 4 in 10 of all routine queries.

The research also demonstrated a direct link between trust, listening and loyalty. 89% of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59% ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63% rated making processes easy and seamless as key. Just 8% of consumers felt that brands were listening to them all of the time, with 74% believing brands pay attention to their views half the time or less.

“The move to digital has transformed the retail landscape,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica. “Greater choice means consumers are becoming more demanding and are actively seeking out brands that they can trust and who listen to them. While retail brands have made some improvements since 2017, they have slipped back in others, damaging trust and ultimately customer loyalty and revenues. If they want to succeed they need to listen to customers and use their insight. Only those who do this will thrive and stay ahead of the competition.”

Retail Accuracy 2019
versus 2017
Average speed 2019
versus 2017
Web 83% vs 70% n/a
Email 68% vs 73% 10hr 19m vs 24hr 12m
Facebook 50% vs 28% 43m 24s vs 3hr 34m
Twitter 38% vs 50% 1hr 56m vs 1hr 43m
Chat 35% vs 25% 8m 43s 4m 24s
Total 59% vs 55%

Speed of response also varied widely between channels – and even within sectors and brands. One fashion retailer answered a tweet in 17 minutes, yet another took 50 hours to reply. A food and drink retailer responded on Facebook within one minute but needed nearly 23 hours to provide an answer on email. Overall response times on chat doubled from 4 minutes back in 2017 to 8 minutes this year. Facebook had the fastest average speed of response, at 43 minutes, 24 seconds – over twice as fast as Twitter (1 hour 56 minutes) and nearly 15 times faster than email (10 hours 19 minutes). This is despite exactly the same questions being asked across these channels.

The study evaluated 50 UK brands, split equally between the fashion, food and drink, travel, insurance and banking sectors. Brands were rated on their ability to answer five routine questions via their websites, as well as their speed, accuracy and consistency when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat. Additionally, 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed on their attitude to trust, its relationship with customer experience and on loyalty and brand reputation. All research was completed in H1 2019.

A full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform customer experience is available at https://www.eptica.com/19cxretail.

An infographic on the results is available at https://www.eptica.com/state-uk-retail-customer-experience-infographic-2019.

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