consumer shopping expectations

Brands and stores that go after experience-driven strategies are on the right track, or so suggests Salesforce’s latest State of the Connected Customer report, released Wednesday.

According to the third edition of the annual study, which analyzed data and observations from more than 8,000 global consumers and businesses, simply pushing product is not enough.

“Retailers must recognize that the product is only one part of the shopping equation,” Rob Garf, vice president of strategy and insights on Salesforce’s retail and consumer goods team, told WWD. “Seventy-three percent of customers say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies, and 66 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience.”

Personalization is a fundamental driver of that experience — or should be — for at least a majority of the respondents. At 62 percent, a clear majority of customers expect companies to adapt to their actions and behavior, and an equal percentage are open to methods based on artificial intelligence, which is up from 59 percent last year. And yet, 52 percent still said companies are impersonal.

But experience involves more than just catering to unique whims or shopping preferences. Having a purpose-driven or ethical business seems to matter more to consumers than ever.

“Empowered shoppers today actively engage brands that demonstrate higher standard of ethics, equality and social good,” Garf added. “In fact, more than two-thirds of customers actually won’t buy from companies with poor ethics, and 80 percent are more loyal to companies that display good ethics.”

As for other parts of the evolving shopping experience, the company also found 68 percent of participants prefer self-service tools and channels, such as knowledge bases or customer portals, for questions or issues. And as much as 40 percent of customers won’t shop a business if they can’t use their preferred channels.

Salesforce infographic reveals highlights from its third annual State of the Connected Customer report.     Courtesy of Salesforce