The retail industry is only set to become more competitive. Yet, most companies are still failing to meet customer expectations and become more customer-centric. According to Accenture, this is because there is a growing disconnect between what customers need and what retailers are providing.
Customers today want more than a transactional service; they expect a meaningful interaction with a brand. Retailers are still focusing too much attention on their products, pricing and margins. In order to survive, they need to ask themselves the fundamental question: "how can I serve my customers better?"
QVC is a leading video and e-commerce retailer, engaging with millions of shoppers every day. They combine the best of media, retail and social to create the most customer-centric and rewarding shopping experience. We caught up with their insights team on their priorities for 2019.
Evolving retail proposition in a changing market
In today’s retail market, customer expectations are constantly evolving and new market entrants continue to disrupt the landscape. QVC identified the need to get closer to their customers to understand what they want and expect from a multi-channel retailer. This insight empowers QVC to be more reactive and agile in their roadmap and attract new, younger audiences whilst still catering to their traditional customer base.
Their insights team regularly evaluate their offering against competitors to identify whether customers are getting anything elsewhere that they don’t have access to at QVC. This is currently a focus with their Christmas research initiative, ‘12 Days of Christmas’, with each day dedicated to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a particular area of the business.
Allowing your customers to be a part of your business transformation
Building an authentic relationship with your customers allows them to influence the ways in which your business changes and grows, which is important for any customer-centric retailer. QVC closes the feedback loop by injecting customer feedback directly into key business decisions as they are being made. This, in turn, means that they can demonstrate the value of their customers’ feedback by investing in simple changes to their brand experience that their customers have actually requested.
"One recent example involved asking our loyal members which types of content they wanted to see more of going into the new year, and the response revealed that they were eager to see more interactive content surrounding ‘deal of the day’. This was something we were able to incorporate into our content strategy right away and enabled us to share back to members that their feedback had been actioned."
- Keira Henderson, Customer Insights Researcher, QVC
"The experience" is your USP
Industry-leading content everywhere is advising customer-centric retailers to invest in making their customer experience unique and memorable. Now that all retailers are competing with key players such as Amazon, they need to differentiate themselves with their USP. QVC focus on a unique combination of retail and content to make their customer experience as curated and customer-centric as possible. Looking at larger online retailers, the buying process is often heavily transactional whereas QVC is interacting with their customers and creating a social experience. Within their community, the QVC Lounge members log on daily to discuss their recent purchases with the team and even to engage with fellow members.
Consistency and value across multiple touch-points
Shoppers are now experiencing your platform from multiple devices and touch-points, and each touch-point needs to demonstrate brand consistency and deliver value. Brand consistency means ensuring your customers have a positive experience every time they visit your platform by creating a seamless customer journey. For QVC, this is particularly challenging since they also cater to teleshoppers and one of their ongoing missions is to create a seamless multi-platform customer journey. The insights team discovered that this can only be successful if you are asking your customers what they want from different platforms on a regular basis. QVC segment their audience based on how they interact with the brand (e.g. TV viewers vs. online users) and tailor their offering based on the powerful insights from these groups of individuals.
Customer data is all around us. Most retailers have access to plenty of data but lack a defined strategy to fully understand and utilise the data. To gain a 360-degree view of the customer, companies need to understand the context behind the numbers – the why behind the what. Once you understand who your most loyal customers are and what these customers value in your brand, you will know what to modernise and how to evolve to remain successful. Whether this is a small change to your customer journey or a product road-map upheaval, listening to your customers and validating their feedback is the only way to look after the bottom line in the long-run.