The Insight Edit – Email habits of the modern consumer

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of over 1000 retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

Mobile has grown significantly in recent years, and with that, the reliance on email has become a significant driver of revenue. For that reason, this month we wanted to ask our Premium Panel how they view and engage with email marketing from brands and retailers.

Firstly, we asked them what time of day they were most likely to open and read emails from their favourite brands and 75% of our respondents stated that after dinner and early morning were their preferred time.

The next most popular time was the mid-morning break or at lunchtimes. 45% of our panel said they liked to read emails during their morning commute and we found that the age and gender of our panelists didn’t affect the number of people who selected the commute as their preferred time.

During the weekends, there was a more even spread of times that people were most likely to check their email.  Breakfast and mid-morning were the most popular times for over 75% of our respondents.

We then looked at the devices that were most likely to be used at the times which were most popular. Not surprisingly mobile was the device of choice during in the morning and during the commute with 84% of respondents likely to use their mobile to check email at these times.

During the lunch break, there was a more even split between reading emails on mobile and desktop, but in the evenings tablet and desktop computers were far more prevalent with 83% of respondents using them to read marketing emails at that time.

At the weekends, apart from breakfast time, desktops were the most popular platform to view email throughout the day with tablets coming a close second.

Email Premium Panel stats

What these statistics show us is that one customer may use multiple devices to view email at different points in the week. It is, therefore, key that retailers have a completely responsive email template that adapts seamlessly to the device it is opened on.

Those who are able to gain similar data from their own customer base should look to adapt their email marketing strategy to send more visual or content rich emails during the weekend as they are more likely to be viewed on a desktop computer or tablet.

Understanding your customers’ email habits has never been more important. Don’t rely on the data of previous emails, but also ask your customers what their preferred habits are.

Twitter updates and highlights from Fashion Week 2016

Here at Leapfrogg, every week we have a meeting to share developments within the world of customer experience, digital and retail. Here are some of the things we discussed this week…

Twitter makes changes to timeline functionality

Twitter has just rolled out a new timeline feature that will display tweets out of chronological order and by relevancy to the user. The aim of this change is to stop Twitter users from missing out on updates from the people that they follow.

The feature, which launched Wednesday, is currently optional (you need to manually activate the option), but Twitter plans to roll it out as a default in the next few weeks but give users the ability to opt-out.

The new timeline feature seems aimed at solving one of Twitter’s biggest problems – the fact that casual users can be overwhelmed by the service’s noise, making it difficult for them to quickly find content that’s useful and relevant.

Our Senior Social Media and Content Consultant says “The introduction of an algorithm is both a challenge and an opportunity for retailers. If Twitter follows a similar path to Facebook, the new algorithm will become more complex over time, resulting in more time being needed to understand, monitor and adapt to these changes. Retailers could also end up being pushed towards advertising in order to compensate for loss of visibility on the platform.

However, there is an upside, particularly from a user perspective. Low quality and repetitive content will no longer cut it. Although this will mean more effort will be required from brands when they craft their content, the overall experience of using Twitter will be greatly improved.”

Twitter aims to improve customer service interactions

In more Twitter news, in response to the amount of customer service interactions that take place on the social media platform, Twitter has just added new a single ‘direct message’ button which can be added to a tweet, which aims to make the customer service interactions easier for both customers and brands.

Meanwhile Twitter is also planning the roll out, initially with selected brands, of a new survey feature called Customer Feedback. It claims this will make it easier for brands to ask customers about their thoughts against use two industry standard question formats: Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction. Read more here.

London Fashion Week 2016

London Fashion Week kicks off today and this year will see The British Fashion Council screen shows and exclusive footage from 60 out of home sites on Ocean Outdoor and signature digital screens.

Content will include live streams from six catwalk shows and will air in four locations in London, as well as in Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

This new venture brings London Fashion Week allows designers and brands to reach significantly wider audiences than ever before.

Lyst at New York Fashion Week

Over in New York, we spotted our client Lyst launch a campaign to ensure they are noticed during the busy period – which can typically be a struggle for ecommerce to engage with.

Through their ‘I’ve Got Clothes In Different Area Codes’ #FindNYFW campaign – Lyst teamed up with Uber to provide users with the opportunity to ‘style packs’ filled with designer items depending on what is trending in their neighbourhood (via data on the Lyst site).

All users have to do is open the app in Manhattan and Brooklyn and enter the promo code FINDNYFW to unlock the special stylepack option.

Instagram more popular than Twitter at London Fashion Week

This week, we were also interested to find out that Instagram has overtaken Twitter to become the go-to platform for London Fashion Week news. According to Greenlight, there were 5,602 Instagram posts using #LFW2016 in the month leading up to London Fashion Week 2016, compared with just 1,178 Twitter mentions over the same timeframe.

In 2015 things looked were quite different, with more than 6,000 Twitter mentions using the #LFW2015 hashtag leading up to the event.

What we’ve been reading this week:

New parents are Facebook’s mobile power-users

How to embrace creativity in the programmatic age

13 reasons your organic traffic is in decline…it’s not a penalty

How premium retailers are trying to win hearts for Valentine’s Day

Despite more than half of consumers feeling that Valentine’s Day is a waste of money, it has clearly not stopped Britain spending. Last year saw £313m spent on food and drink, £518m spent on gifts, and £135m spent on seasonal non-food items such as cards and wrap and this year, it’s estimated that Britain will spend £980m*.

In response to this, brands have been really pushing their Valentine’s campaigns this year with everything from emojis to fishing. Here we’ve rounded up some of the marketing highlights from premium retailers we have seen so far.

Ted Baker

Ted Baker is well known for their creative and engaging campaigns. To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, the retailer rolled out a quirky microsite featuring a fishing game that invites consumers to ‘hook their Sole Mate’ in order to win prizes.

Users get three plays per day, before being invited to share the campaign on social media and return the next day to try again. The campaign also adorns Ted Baker store windows in the period running up to Valentine’s Day. Check it out here.

Ted Baker Sole Mate

House of Fraser

You can’t have missed House of Fraser’s not-so-subtle #emojinal takeover which was all over their social channels last week. The brand which is usually more known for their luxury-focused image hijacked trending topics such as Harry Styles’ birthday and Gigi Hadid’s night out by sharing a flurry of slightly cringe-worthy tweets and photoshopped images of celebrities filled with emojis.

While a lot of people have been slating House of Fraser’s #Emojinal campaign because it was such a stark contrast to their traditional branding, it certainly captured people’s attention.

It’s clear that House of Fraser was trying to capture a younger audience, but the campaign was criticised for alienating their existing audience as they jumped on trending topics without any real meaning or context. Interesting, as we get closer to the big day, there is no sign of the campaign on House of Fraser’s social channels.

Pandora

Valentine’s Day is a key date for jewellery brands, and so it’s no surprise to see many brands upping their game before the big day.

Pandora launched their #GesturesofLove campaign by visiting three stations to surprise people with gestures of love jewellery and a morning coffees.

They have also rolled out the campaign to their social channels to drive user-generated content asked their followers to share what simple gestures make them feel loved over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Tiffany & Co

Tiffany & Co has asked its followers the age-old question, “What is love?” Their dedicated site features video interviews, a gift guide and a love generator that presents consumers with a sharable GIF to express their personal answer to the frequently pondered question. However, while the Generate Your Love GIFs initially grab your attention, they do get quite repetitive and it would have been nice to see more user-generated content seeded throughout the campaign

Tiffany & Co Love Is

One tip from our MD, Rosie Freshwater, is to make sure you are not alienating some of your customer base by blanket sending Valentine’s content or only speaking about valentines on your social, as half of them could be single and really not want to be reminded of it this time of year!

*stats via Retail Gazette.

Facebook reactions and brands jump on the emoji bandwagon

Here at Leapfrogg, every week we have a meeting to share developments within the world of customer experience, digital and retail. Here are some of the things we discussed this week…

Facebook rolls out reactions globally

Facebook reactions were first announced in November 2015, after many requests for a ‘dislike’ button from users. Now after a period of testing in various markets across the world, Facebook has announced they are ready to roll this feature out to all users in the coming weeks.

Facebook reactions

Facebook is rolling out an initial five Reactions: ‘angry, sad, wow, haha and love’. Although, this update may seem quite trivial, we’re interested to see how brands and retailers can start to use this feature to gain even more insight and data into the customer experience. Now is the time for marketers to develop a plan to process this new stream of customer data so they can take advantage of it at launch.

 

Our Senior Account Manager, James Bradbury said “Rather than the simple ‘like’ and much clamoured for ‘dislike’ button, users will be able to attach emotion to brand messaging. This is going to mean that brands are going to have to be even more intelligent when it comes to brands and retailers communicating through Social Media.”

House of Fraser’s #Emojinal campaign provokes mixed reactions

If you follow @HouseofFraser, you won’t have missed their very out of character #emojinal takeover which was shared across their social channels on Monday.

 

The brand, usually more known for their luxury-focused image, hijacked trending topics such as Pep Guardiola’s move to Manchester City and Harry Styles’ birthday by sharing a flurry of slightly cringe-worthy tweets and photoshopped images of celebrities filled with emojis.

A quick scan of the #emojinal hashtag on Twitter shows mixed reactions from House of Fraser’s followers with many expressing surprise and dismay at the drastic shift in tone from the retailer and questioning whether the account had actually been hacked. The campaign appears to follow on from their more ‘edgy’ Christmas advert back in December as House of Fraser continues to evolve its image and reach a new audience.

 

On analysing the campaign Rosie, Leapfrogg’s Managing Director, said “Unless House of Fraser is tricking us all and has a brilliant next stage of their #emojinal campaign I think this is a classic case of jumping on a trend for the sake of it rather than thinking about what would really resonate with their customers. House of Fraser may be trying to attract a new younger audience but completely changing your brand tone and identity on a platform where many of your core customers engage with you is not a clever move. I would recommend House of Fraser revisit their customer profiles and find a way to attract the right type of customer for the products they sell.”

Diptyque launches new scent with packaging and emojis

Following on from the above, our favourite fragrance brand Diptyque has also jumped on the emoji bandwagon.

 

To coincide with the launch of their new Rosaviola scent, Diptyque has recruited fashion designer Olympia Le-Tan to create embroidered versions of the brand’s iconic packaging. In addition, the full range of designs have been digitised as an emoji keyboard which includes lollipops, typewriters, lipsticks and a version of Diptyque’s recognisable shopping carrier.

 

#diptyque #emoji #collaboration #olympialetan (link in bio)

A photo posted by @diptyque on

 

Unfortunately, the icons cannot be used like traditional emojis but are more like ‘Facebook stickers’ where the user has to paste them into messages which we found a little disappointing.

 

It’s interesting to see how a luxury brand such as Dipthque has jumped on the growing trend of emoji marketing but put their own luxury spin on them in order to meet reach out to a younger, tech-savvy audience.

 

Insight Edit: Are consumers buying through social media?

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of over 1000 retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

 

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

 

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

 

There has been a lot of speculation that 2016 will be the year of the “buy now” button in social media. Many people within in the digital industry are convinced there will be a huge move forward in the number of consumers purchasing directly through their favourite social media platforms.

 

Whilst we are seeing the steady impact of social media (done correctly) on purchase behaviour across our client base, we are still seeing a low number of direct purchases through those platforms.

 

We decided to ask our panel if they had bought directly through social media platforms in the last three months.

 

77% of consumers have not made a direct purchase through social media in the last three months. (1)

Of the 23% who did make a purchase – 77% made a purchase through Facebook, 33% through Instagram and a further 13% through Twitter.

 

This shows us that social platforms still have a long way to go to be the main conversion channel compared to retail websites and email. We believe the main reason for this is due to the consumers lack of willingness to make purchases directly on social channels. Perhaps they are just not in buying mode when engaging on those platforms.

 

Alternatively, retailers may not yet be providing the right levels of engaging content on those platforms and, therefore, failing to create the need to purchase right there and then.

 

It will be interesting to see how these numbers change over the coming months as the main social platforms continue the push their “buy now” buttons to own the purchase moment in the customer journey.

 

The decline of organic Instagram and Audience Optimisation for Facebook

Here at Leapfrogg, every week we have a meeting to share developments within the world of customer experience, digital and retail. Here are some of the things we discussed this week…

The decline of organic Instagram

This week a study by social analytics company Locowise, concluded that Instagram’s engagement and organic growth is declining. Instagram was one of the most engaging social platforms in 2015, but now it appears it is growing so fast that it’s becoming more difficult to get organic growth on it.

Locowise reviewed 2,500 profiles and found that in terms of follower growth, the numbers were 88.21% lower in December, at 0.23% – than they were in at their peak in April, at 1.95%. Growth on Facebook and Twitter, were 0.14% and 0.09% respectively, during the same time.


Overall, Instagram is still performing better than Facebook and Twitter and Instagram ads are open to everyone through Facebook’s self-serve ad system. The bad news is that it looks like brands will now have to pay for visibility in order to be successful.

Our Social Media and Content Consultant, Hannah Brookes, said “social media advertising is a growing area in digital marketing – one that the platforms are more than willing to encourage. It’s certainly frustrating for retailers to have to pay to reach the audiences they’ve spent time and effort building up. Only time will tell if Instagram will follow the same path as Facebook and actively restrict the organic reach of content posted by businesses. Either way, when social media success comes with an advertising budget attached, it’s so much more important to have a clear strategy for your marketing. By taking the time to understand your customers and the journey they take from first contact to purchase, you’re much more likely to see a healthy return on your investment.”
 

WhatsApp’s allows brands to communicate with customers

Also this week, mobile messaging app, WhatsApp, announced that they are soon going to allow certain businesses to communicate directly with customers on the platform.

According to a company blogpost on the changes, WhatsApp will this year begin testing tools that allow consumers to “communicate with businesses and organisations [customers] want to hear from”. That means no ads and no messaging spam, and it will become more of a notifications service.

WhatsApp has already ruled out introducing third-party ads in its post, stating: “Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.”

Enabling third-party brands on the platform should provide WhatsApp with a revenue boost without alienating users. We will be interested to see how this pans out and retailers can start using the platform to provide updates to customers and improve their customer service.
 

SEO finally comes to organic Facebook posts

In more social news, Facebook has just announced that Interest Targeting will go and will be replaced by Audience Optimisation.
 
Facebook’s new Audience Optimisation comes in three parts:
 

  • Preferred audience – tags that encourage Facebook show the post to people who might be interested in the tag.
  • Audience restrictions – a bit like the old interest targeting; you can say who might not be interested in the post.
  • Audience insights – want to see how the content actually performed against your tags? This will show you.

 
This means that English language pages, will soon be able to use interest tags within your posts and Facebook will optimise the delivery of those free posts to matching people. You’ll also be able to analysis how successful your interest tagging strategy is and see how different subsets of audiences are engaging with your content.
 

Christmas trading update

JLL’s annual Christmas Trading Update has revealed that over 80% of UK retailers and leisure operators that have disclosed performance figures for the key Christmas trading period have registered positive like for like (LFL) annual growth, with 50% delivering LFL growth in excess of 4% year on year.


Overall, online sales were the clear winner, and retailers that provide customers with an integrated, seamless offer continue to benefit from real competitive advantage. In particular, the growing influence of m-commerce was evident from the trading updates of Jigsaw (mobile sales up +115%), John Lewis (+31%), Very.co.uk (+32%) and Made.com (+122%).

Retail marketing trends we’re excited about in 2016

There is a lot to look forward to in 2016 in the world of retail – innovations in technology continue to break down the barriers between consumer and retailer. Methods for gathering insights about your customers are also getting more sophisticated. These means marketing campaigns are becoming much more targeted – and therefore effective.

Here are few of the retail marketing trends for 2016 that we’re excited about:

The gap between off-line and online is shrinking

It’s becoming ever easier for internet-only retailers to make their mark on UK high streets. Pop up shops are popping up all over the place, with both big and small brands opening physical shop doors for a few days or weeks at a time.

The surge in popularity for pop ups has caused a few problems for the little guys, as empty shops in sought-after locations like London now come at a premium. However, the upside is that these temporary spaces are now being used much more strategically. In recent months, we’ve seen retailers using pop up shops to gather data, trial locations for more permanent stores, and get feedback on products to inform development of new lines.

The pop up trend shows no sign of abating in 2016. However, the format is evolving and adapting in favour of smaller retailers. Services like We Are Pop Up are helping like-minded retailers connect and collaborate. Instead of renting out a whole shop space, you can just rent a rail.

We Are Pop Up

This blending of brands is certainly practical from a logistical point as you can utilise existing facilities in an established shop. However, it also creates potential create PR opportunities when done right. We’re very much looking forward to seeing what pop up partnerships happen in 2016 and how they are received by consumers.

Social media is becoming more integral to the shopping experience

In 2015, social media advertising caused waves in ecommerce as many platforms scaled up their advertising features. In September, the big news was that Instagram opened up to all advertisers after integrating with Facebook. UK retailers are also waiting with bated breath the launch of Pinterest shoppable pins – currently only available in the US.

Instagram and other Social Media Apps

Image credit: Jason Howie on Flickr.

We expect to see similar stories in 2016 as more platforms allow retailers to sell direct to consumers with “buyable content”. However, it’s not just in the virtual space where social media and shopping are merging. Retailers are beginning to introduce social content to stores too.

One story that caught our eye was the social media-informed digital clothing rail. Created by O2 Business for Tyrers department store, the rail displayed which items of clothing were trending on social media. This is a good example of how social listening paired with technology creates a great experience for consumers.

Data is being used to inform business decisions

Here at Leapfrogg, we love hearing how retailers are using data to game-change their business. In 2015, we were excited to work with Rockett St George on a customer insight project. By learning about the buying behaviours of their customers, this homeware retailer segmented and profiled their database, then refined their marketing communications to provide customers with a more relevant and personalised experience. The result was a 20% increase in turnover in October compared to the same period last year.

Another success story from a retailer was the launch of River Island’s “Click and don’t collect” service. Research by fulfilment specialist Shutl and Retail Week revealed that 20% of shoppers who buy online ask for a refund on their goods rather than collect in store. To give customers more control over the delivery of their items whilst minimalising stock level issues, River Island launched an innovative new service. Shoppers who have selected ‘click and collect’ now have the option of change to Shutl’s delivery service and get their order delivered to their door within 90 minutes, or at a time convenient to them.

In 2016, we want to see more case studies like this as the benefit of using data is two-fold – retailers see better results and customers enjoy a richer experience when purchasing items both online and in stores.

 

Which trends and innovations excite you the most in 2016? Tweet us at @leapfrogg or leave a comment below.

 

What did we learn from Black Friday 2015?

Just over a week ago, the shopping phenomenon which is Black Friday hit the UK. A couple of years ago, this event was only confined to America as a post-Thanksgiving sale event, but it has quickly gained momentum in the UK and become a key date in the retailers calendar. In fact, on Black Friday this year, online sales broke through the £1bn barrier for the first time and over the entirety of Cyber Weekend, a staggering £3.3bn was spent by UK consumers.

With the dust finally settled, we thought we’d look at some of the overall trends we spotted across our clients and the retail sector in general.

Industry insights

Consumers spent more

According to The IBM Watson Trend Hub, this year consumers in the UK spent 50% more online than in 2014. The average basket was a full £7.50 higher at just over £82, making it one of the highest ever posted. If you compare this to an average Friday which is £71, then it’s clear to see the impact of Black Friday and how it has gained traction in the UK.

Shoppers prefer their smartphones

This year, nearly half of all online sales came from mobile devices on Black Friday.  Adobe says that 21% of sales were made via tablet computers, and £242m was spent on mobile devices, up from £217m last year.

This data shows that retailers’ investment in mobile commerce is definitely paying off as consumers are becoming increasingly happy to research and make purchases on their mobile phones. We imagine that many consumers would have done their research prior to Black Friday, and are ready to make purchases on their mobiles first thing or during their commute to work.

Black Friday is an online event

According to figures from the IMRG, online sales broke through the £1bn barrier for a single day for the first time on Black Friday, but high streets and shopping centres failed to entice shoppers despite their heavy promotions.

Black Friday footfall was significantly down on last year, despite more awareness of the event and retailers communicating their discounts well in advance. It appears that horror stories from previous years had an effect on shoppers and the average Brit opted to stay inside, avoid the crowds and shop online.

Consumers still shop in-store for various reasons; namely being the convenience and the experience of shopping as a leisure activity. If this is compromised, then shoppers may well choose to shop online instead. Bricks and mortar stores need to think beyond discounts and focus on the experience they are providing their customers – what can they offer in-store shoppers that you can’t get online?  Being more creative about the shopping experience will help motivate people to leave their screens and head in-store.

Retailers are still unprepared

As shoppers surged online, we saw more website casualties this year. Our friends at Ampersand created a live dashboard to track retailers’ websites and reported that a fifth of ecommerce websites had experienced some downtime by 9am and singled out Boots, Argos and Game as retailers that had experienced disruption.

Argos were forced to give customers a countdown as long as nine minutes before transactions could be completed and their customers took to social media in their droves to voice their complaints. This was highly unfortunate for the retailer since they had been creating hype around their discounts for a week before the event.

Argos website Black Friday

Downtime can cause huge problems for retailers. It stops those all-important sales and can cause long term damage on a brands reputation from customers who expect sites to be fast and reliable at all times. If they are not, they will most certainly head off to a competitor and probably won’t come back. Retailers need to look at their data from this year and ensure that they have the right technology in place for 2016.

As well as their website, retailers need to also ensure they can always deliver on their delivery promises with the increase in sales that Black Friday brings.

You don’t have to discount

This year we saw retailers such as Oasis, Next, Reiss and Asda chose opt out of Black Friday. Over in the U.S, outdoor retailer REI even decided to close their stores on Black Friday and encourage shoppers to enjoy the outdoors as part of a huge campaign to boycott the day. Here in the UK premium fashion retailer Jigsaw didn’t discount to tie in with their pricing manifesto and ended up having their highest ever week at full price. Based on the chaos of previous years, Asda also decided to focus on offering great value products throughout the whole Christmas period rather than focus on one day of discounting to improve the experience for their customers.

Jigsaw's pricing manifesto

Jigsaw’s pricing manifesto

Retailers are divided over whether Black Friday is a good thing seeing as it forces them to lose margin at the most important time of the year. They need to make a commercial decision about whether Black Friday will be a beneficial promotion for their business.

If retailers did discount, their challenge is now to encourage those customers to keep shopping with them at full price throughout 2016.

What have we learnt?

Rosie Freshwater – Managing Director

“Don’t put all of your promotional eggs in one basket. Instead of focusing on high discounts on Black Friday, run seasonal offers from late October and ensure consistent stock levels and efficient delivery throughout the entire season. Use Christmas to acquire new customers with future profit potential, rather than discount shoppers who will only buy once.”

Monika Varzinskaite – Paid Search Consultant

“Prepare your promotions well in advance. Create landing pages, use special site-link extensions (this year Google offered extensions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday only) and set aside a budget specifically for cyber weekend as cost-per-clicks go up, meaning that you would see an increased media spend compared other weekends.”

Alex Oxborough – Social Media and Content Manager

“I share a similar view to Rosie, Black Friday has arrived on the UK retail scene, but it needn’t be just about discounting. The negative press around the day is an opportunity to gain positive publicity for your brand. By stating that you are not taking part in Black Friday and making the reason why about the quality of your customer experience, you can build your brand and win customer loyalty.”

The top five customer service factors that will increase customer loyalty

To many, the word “customer service” represents the services that a retailer gives their customers post-purchase to ensure the order arrives smoothly or that any faults or questions from customers are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.

However, this is no longer the case as the world of retail is changing in line with the demands and expectations of the modern day consumer. Customer service now also relates to the way the retailer communicates with the consumer throughout the entire buying journey.

Customer service begins at the consideration period. Video chats with customer service representatives, answering enquiries on Twitter and reviewing responses from the brand on social media are just some of the ways in which the level of service from a retailer will influence the purchase decision.

Moving across to the moment of purchase – customer service also plays a huge role. The ease of the online purchase funnel, the ability to read other customer reviews, offers of free, fast or convenient click and collect delivery are all elements of customer service that affect the point of conversion.

Post-purchase, the traditional elements of responding to queries, delivery problems, product faults and returns come into play, but how the retailer communicates with the customer to form an ongoing relationship is part of customer service. Sending personalised emails, relevant offers, offering loyalty programs and engaging on social media are all ways in which retailers provide a top service to their customers.

Customer experience and customer service are interchangeable as both disciplines are focused solely on the happiness of the customer.

The modern consumer expects incredibly high standards of customer service from the brands he/she chooses to shop with. We have listed below the five key elements a retailer must have in place to meet expectations and create a profitable ongoing relationship with its customers.

1. Delivering on promise

Simply put, retailers MUST deliver on their promises. Offers must be honoured, items must be in stock, and products must come in top condition and on time.

John Lewis Delivery options

2. Continuing the brand experience

Many retailers focus on delivering a brilliant service to potential customers to entice them into making a purchase, but then forget to carry on that high level of experience post-purchase. Order confirmations and delivery notes can be bland and unengaging, social media channels too sales focused and packaging can be uninspiring. Retailers must put the same amount of effort into their messaging and content post-purchase as they do pre-purchase. They must work to deliver an amazing ongoing brand experience to retain their customers long term.

3. Remember and personalise

It is important that a consumer feels valued by the brands they buy from. A great way for retailers to show they value their customers is to remember who they are and personalise communication towards them. Personalisation is much more than remembering a customers’ name in an email. Retailers should be curating products and content within emails and website to match the preferences and previous shopping habits of their and their customers. They should aim to find out what is important to their customers and tailor their communication accordingly.

Feel Unique email sign up form

Feel Unique’s email sign up form asks customers about specific beauty concerns in order to personalise their communications.

4. Ask their opinion

By asking your customers opinion on topics such as product development and promotions will show your customers that you really value them.

We are not suggesting that a retail strategy should then be driven wholly by their customers, but there have been many cases where asking customers their thoughts on your business and products they would like to be introduced has led to very successful changes being implemented. There are many ways in which you can gather your customers’ opinions, such as social media or email, so there is no reason why retailers should not be garnering insights from their customer base on a regular basis.

Screengrab of asking customers about products

Pai skincare asked their customers what products they would like to see introduced to the range.

5. Reward for loyalty

Every retailer will have a pool of customers who are loyal and shop with them multiple times a year. To retain those customers, retailers cannot just rely on great products. Great service will, of course, encourage those customers to remain loyal, but the icing on the cake, especially for those of high value or potentially high value is to reward them and thank them for their custom. Retailers don’t have to give money off as a reward; there are plenty of other ways to reward customers from, exclusive product previews and events to express delivery and free gifts. Retailers must choose the rewards that match the needs of their most valuable customers.

SpaceNK Birthday gift

SpaceNK offers a free product to their customers’ on their birthday.

In a nutshell, the most important ways for retailers to ensure their customers come back time and time again is to take the time to truly understand the service that their customers want and deliver that service, tailored to them. It isn’t a quick process to become customer-centric in this way, but every change that a retailer makes with customer happiness in mind is one step further towards that utopia.

A closer look at Habitat – the most engaging online furniture retailer

Back in September, we launched our first ever Customer Engagement Awards. After a month of voting from our Premium Panel, the public and a panel of retail experts we were delighted to announce the winning brands across a number of retail sectors.

In this series of blog posts, we will be taking a closer look into why the winning brands are leading the way with customer engagement by delivering relevant content and engaging socially with their customers.

First up is Habitat who was voted the most engaging online furniture brand and scored 13/25 in our first engagement report.

In our analysis, Habitat scored highly in terms of the engagement they received on their own on-site content. We were impressed by the content they produced, but felt a key takeaway for the brand was to cascade this content consistently across their social channels and use it to excite their audience further.

The Habitat website is a great resource for those interested in interiors with everything from iconic product stories and information about their designers to their heritage and Habitat’s role in modern culture.

We enjoyed their #HabitatVoyeur campaign which accompanies their recent television adverts. This campaign takes a look into the homes of some of the UK’s creative individuals and shares their interiors inspiration. The content doesn’t just share inspirational interior design, it also introduces readers to exciting people in the fashion, food and drink world and does a great job of making you feel “in the know” and that you are accessing exclusive content.

Screenshot of Habitat's coolest Habitats

Habitat has also produced humorous videos which give instructions on how to be a #habitatvoyeur, tapping into the fact that many of us enjoy a snoop around other peoples’ homes.

To engage their audience further and spread the idea of Habitat voyeurism, they recently ran a competition, in which they invited people to upload an image of their home in order to win a voucher which produced user-generated content and engagement across their social channels and allowed consumers to become part of the brand.

Screenshot of Habitat user generated content

On-site, Habitat has a blog section which includes buying guides, stories behind their products and gift guides and inspiration. However, this content is very tucked away on their website and should be given more prominence on their website and social channels. It would be great to see the product stories incorporated into their product pages to really bring them to life. Buying guides can also improve conversion rate as they help customers make an informed choice.

Habitat received the most engagement for their own content on Twitter followed by Facebook. Their strategy on Twitter also see’s them retweet happy customers and mentions of their brand whilst sharing their own content. There is a good mix of post types including images, video and mentions from bloggers. They also reply to customers order queries and complaints in a timely manner. A nice touch is that they reply to any Twitter user who submits a #HabitatVoyeur image, but it would be even more brilliant if they could make this more personalised to each customer.

Over on Instagram, the brand has been steadily growing their following. Their images are all vibrant and modern and very reminiscent of the Habitat brand and their products. As well as sharing products, they also share images from their #HabitatVoyeur campaign, behind the scenes ‘sneak peeks’, press mentions and images of their products in context. However, some posts weren’t receiving a huge amount of engagement compared to other brands.

Habitat Instagram

Facebook, although full of content, is one way and the engagement is mainly in the form of Likes.  A development for Habitat could be using their #HabitatVoyeur campaign to engage more of a conversation with users. They could ask more questions, survey fans on what rooms they like most, or even offer the opportunity to be interviewed by Habitat and share their customers’ inspirational images to push their voyeurism theme even further.

You can read more in our furniture engagement report here.