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Salesforce Report: Rising Shopper Expectations Put Pressure on Brands and Retailers to Redefine Customer Engagement Strategies

Shopping Journeys Are More Complex, and Shoppers Are Less Forgiving

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A new report from leading customer relationship manager (CRM) platform provider Salesforce sheds light on how COVID-19 permanently upended shopping for consumers and brands alike, raising shopper expectations in significant ways, while dramatically increasing the stakes for brands and retailers that wish to stay in business. Surveying 1,600 global shoppers and more than 1,000 retail executives, the Fourth Edition of the Connected Shoppers Report by Salesforce also identifies four significant trends shaping the current consumer shopping experience to provide retailers with the insights they need.

“The pandemic accelerated changes in the ways shoppers interact in the digital and physical worlds,” said the Salesforce report. “Retailers and brands reacted quickly as shoppers embraced new channels and options. Now, retailers and brands are moving from scrappy to scale as they adapt to continued shifts and heightened shopper expectations.”

With more options than ever before, shoppers continue to define the rules of engagement in the digital channels of their choice. Between 2019 and 2021, brand websites and their apps, retailer websites and their apps, and online marketplaces each reported growth of nearly 40% in their share of transactions.

But despite the growing complexity of the shopping journey, shoppers expect brands to meet them on their terms and in the places where they regularly engage. Mobile wallets, email, and social media are the top digital destinations today for shoppers to make a purchase, while social media and self-service channels like chatbots, chat, and instant messaging are the most popular ways to engage customer service. Among consumers, millennials and Gen Zers are most likely to shop “at the edge”—outside of a brand or retailer’s physical and digital space.

Even so, shoppers are less forgiving or patient: 80% of consumers will abandon a retailer after three bad experiences, according to the Salesforce report.

In this increasingly complex and competitive space, brands and retailers are finding ways to drive customer lifetime value. Shoppers seek incentives like loyalty or rewards programs, exclusive shopping experiences, early access to products, and sustainability.

Sellers are also evolving their CX strategies, including hiring more data scientists to untangle data, adopting unified engagement platforms to operationalize customer data, and replacing legacy point-of-sale (POS) technology with a cloud solution. “To scale efficiently and effectively, brands and retailers need the foundation that gives them access, agility, and intelligence to meet shoppers where they are, redefine the store as a critical touchpoint, and drive loyalty through personalized engagement,” the report concludes. “Many are upgrading their technology, increasing access to data, and investing in new channels for browsing, buying, and service to keep pace with—and stay ahead of—change.”

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