Holiday shopping is known for deep discounts and big sales. Entire websites are dedicated to finding the best deals, but is continually slashing prices really a strategic move for businesses? Competing simply on price isn’t sustainable. Eventually, the business will no long be making money or be different from any other company. The solution is to compete on customer experience.
There has to be more to a sales strategy than winning by selling the cheapest goods. Successful companies with long-term visions build experiences that separate themselves from the competition. Instead of competing on price this holiday season, companies can use these 10 customer experience alternatives.
Brick and mortar isn’t dead; it’s simply evolving. Instead of just browsing items, customers want experiences. Experiential retail includes everything from interactive showrooms to technology-equipped stores with immersive experiences. Beauty brand L’Occitane runs an experiential flagship store in New York that transports customers to France with sensory experiences and a number of rotating Instagram-friendly photo backdrops. The overall goal is to create a space that is memorable and engaging for customers.
Engaging with education can be a huge opportunity to create a strong customer experience. When customers learn something, they see the value of what they are purchasing and understand why it might not be the least expensive option available. Whole Foods educates customers with signs throughout the store that teach customers how to use produce and explain ingredients in household and beauty items. Employees are on hand to answer questions and make grocery shopping an educational experience.
Bring Communities Together
Brands have the unique opportunity to bring together like-minded people and build communities. Successful companies turn shopping into an interactive group experience instead of each customer feeling alone. Gymshark has built a strong brand community with a blog and strong social media presence for customers to share their healthy living and exercise tips with each other.
Environmental concerns are top of mind for many people, and customers are looking for ways to minimize their carbon footprints. Brands that offer sustainable goods and processes show they care about the world around them, often more than profits. The Honest Company sells organic, sustainable baby and home products customers feel good about buying. Customers know their purchases aren’t hurting the environment or the people in their homes and are willing to pay more for them.
Customers want to be appreciated, not just treated like dollar signs. Engaging customers around a common purpose helps them feel valued. While many fitness centers allow customers to be anonymous, Orange Theory engages customers with unique, personalized workouts and gamification. With heart rate monitors and data to see personal improvements, Orange Theory Fitness stimulates the intellectual, physical and emotional aspects of human connection.
Customers want to be part of something bigger than themselves. When a purchase can do good in the world, people are more willing to spend money and build a relationship with the brand. Giving back can come in a variety of forms, such as one-for-one giving or contributing a portion of sales to charities. Sock company Bombas has a loyal following, in part because it donates a pair of socks for every pair purchased. They aren’t the cheapest socks on the market, but customers connect with the message of giving back.
Especially around the holidays, customers are looking for ways to build relationships with family and friends. Successful brands facilitate those relationships and create an environment where people can come together. One of the first paint and sip companies, Painting With a Twist aims to create an environment where customers can experience a carefree escape with family and friends. The company provides the atmosphere and tools for customers to strengthen their relationships.
Provide Personalized Service
In our world full of data, there’s no reason why companies can’t offer personalized service for each customer. A truly personalized experience comes from understanding each person’s needs and preferences. One of the reasons for Netflix’s monster success is its data-driven approach to personalization. Each customer gets a curated list of content they would enjoy so that each person’s viewing experience is unique.
Offer Speed And Convenience
Throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, customers resonate with brands that make their lives easier. Speed and convenience can come through fast delivery, options to pick items up in store or mobile experiences that simplify basic interactions. Target aims to make life easier for customers by offering a variety of delivery options, including fast shipping, in-store pickup and even bringing items out to the car.
Find Proactive Solutions
Instead of waiting for customers to come to them, many companies use predictive analytics to find proactive solutions for customers. When a customer checks into a Brooks Brothers store on social media, the brand proactively follows up to check on their experience and answer any questions. Reaching out to customers can make their lives easier and improve the overall experience.
Customer-centric companies don’t compete solely on price. With many items becoming commodities, the best way to stand out and be sustainable is to offer a strong customer experience.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly email newsletter here.