When are retailers and manufacturers relevant to digital shoppers in their “all-channel” experience? It’s one of the questions Cap Gemini answers in a recent report, based on international research.

The report focuses on the needs of digital shoppers – defined as shoppers who use at least one digital channel during at least one phase of the shopping journey- in the context of their overall daily lives.

In the “all-channel” shopping experience, the report distinguishes between different stages: Awareness, Choosing, Transaction, Delivery and Aftersales Care. Cap Gemini also takes different usage scenarios into account: while in a shop, at home, etc.

The main conclusion of the report is probably that there is no such thing as the digital shopper. It seems obvious but we often forget it.

Most shoppers are digital shoppers nowadays. Mobile devices, digital technologies, online sharing platforms, etc. provide shoppers with more tools than ever before in all stages of the shopping journey.

The role of different channels

Although the report identifies several ‘segments’ of digital shoppers and shows regional differences, it’s clear that the shopping experience is highly personal, and that relevance is increasingly about personalization and offering the contact opportunities, content, tools and experiences your customers want.

The role of excellent shopping experiences is not only one of customer-centricity and positive reputation, the cost of poor customer experiences is very high.

From a channel perspective, it’s crystal clear that all channels play a different role depending on the phase in the shopping journey.

Some examples:

  • The website is key in virtual all stages, from awareness to after sales care.
  • Email is most important in delivery, and after sales care, although it beats all other digital channels (excluding the website) in awareness and choice as well.
  • In-store technology, such as kiosks, thrives well in the transaction phase.
  • After-sales care is often still an offline matter (telephone).

Obviously, these channel preferences according to the phase, don’t mean you should ignore other channels. Again, it depends. An example: although telephone and email may still be very important for after-sales care, a new breed of connected consumers use social media for support (in the report the ”Digital Shopaholics’ and ‘Social Digital Shoppers’, for instance). Furthermore, these ‘groups’ like to voice their opinions and depending on their place in your ‘target audience’, can be at least as important as more ‘traditional’ digital shoppers.

Relevancy and the digital shopper

So, when are you relevant for the digital shopper? It’s really a mix of circumstances and of course individual preferences.

However, some general key takeaways always come back and shouldn’t be ignored.

  • Good customer experiences, efficiency, simplicity and the removal of hurdles that stand in the way of conversions and ‘steal’ the precious time of the modern consumer, are all essential.
  • Once again, it’s clear that consumers really expect an integrated experience across all channels. Unfortunately, as more research showed before, most consumers don’t get that integrated and cross-channel experience (at all).
  • A shift from a product- or feature-focused approach to a shopper-focused one is a must.

We don’t really need reports to understand that, but we can’t repeat enough how important it is to realize those changes, putting the context of the individual touchpoints and preferences of shoppers at the heart of what we do.

It’s just a matter of doing it and understanding the need of a consistent cross-channel and customer-centric approach when serving a demanding and dynamic consumer in the most relevant – and thus personal – way possible.