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Retailers Increasing Focus on Humanizing the Digital Customer Experience: Benchmark Report Shows Steady to Growing Investment in Digital Transformation

  • 93% of retailers making website top priority during Pandemic.

  • 86% reported increase their ecommerce website budget during Pandemic  

  • 81% report personalization as key focus right now compared to 55% pre Pandemic. 

  • 71% of retailers report brand authenticity is a key driver in online success.

iAdvize, a leading conversational platform solutions provider serving more than 2,000 brands in 100+ countries, announced the results of a study that surveyed more than 100 US retail and e-commerce leaders to assess digital customer experience (CX) capabilities. Conducted by Gatepoint Research, a subsidiary of SimplyDIRECT, the survey which was conducted before and during the Pandemic found that 93 percent of brands consider their website a priority. Still, nearly 60 percent have faced resource constraints that impede progress on digital initiatives. However, this trend may evolve, as half of the respondents expect near-term budget increases to build on the digital momentum created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Although omnichannel shopping has become the norm, the experience quality delivered across digital channels can vary. While 71 percent of respondents affirmed that their websites offer successful and memorable experiences, only 11 percent believed that their apps perform equally well. Since apps represent an opportunity to provide exclusive branded experiences to engaged shoppers, companies must focus on improving the experiences provided by their apps while continuing to enhance websites.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic brought disruption to retail, our survey indicates that brands have made improving the digital experience a top priority. Websites are an area of strength for many retailers, and the trend towards higher budgets is a sign that the industry has embraced the digital transformation,” said Nicholas de Rosen, Chief Executive Officer of iAdvize North America. “Retailers must continue to pursue innovative strategies to humanize the digital experience and create memorable and meaningful interactions for shoppers.”

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Survey results indicate that brands and retailers recognized the value of delivering personal, human-centric experiences that build trust and foster customer goodwill. Specifically, the survey found:

  • Emphasis on Authenticity. Brands and retailers have started to acknowledge that consumers want more than information and convenience when shopping online and recognize the value of authenticity in digital CX. The survey found that 71 percent of brands and retailers cited authenticity as the top factor driving digital CX excellence, with personalization as the second highest-rated factor.
  • Success and Opportunities with Personalization: Nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated that their personalization initiatives are supporting the delivery of successful, memorable digital experiences for customers.    Despite this initial success in delivering personalized experiences, a minority of brands and retailers have adopted strategies to provide real-time, one-on-one expert advice to shoppers. 29% of respondents cited 1:1 expert advice as a key CX factor.
  • Growing Recognition of the Power of Peer-to-Peer (P2P): In assessing digital channels, 30 percent of respondents rated influencer marketing as critical to delivering successful experiences. Notably, the percentage of respondents endorsing influencer marketing was higher than those citing advertising as a top CX touchpoint. This finding underscores the growing importance of peer-to-peer (P2P) strategies in reaching audiences.

The survey included responses from before and after the pandemic influenced business strategies and consumer digital buying behaviors. Of note, 81 percent of COVID-era respondents highlighted personalization as a top priority, compared to 55 percent of pre-pandemic respondents.  During the next chapter for retail, delivering truly personalized experiences that acknowledge shoppers’ humanity and provide individualized advice can distinguish brands from competitors.

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