As a concept, customer experience sounds very easy – value your customers by treating them right so that they keep coming back to your business and become your brand advocate. However, from a business point of view, the reality is that it consists of a lot of moving parts, people and processes that need to work together to holistically create that experience for a consumer.
A deep symbiotic relationship between all these elements across the business is a must for designing and delivering a captivating customer experience. It should start with gathering an in-depth understanding of who your customers are, what they need and how to give it to them in an easy and convenient fashion given the surrounding market environment. This insight can help any business cater to their customer’s needs, gain their loyalty and stay competitive in the market.
What is influencing the retail industry in Saudi Arabia to personalise customer experience?
Consumer behaviour is constantly changing which also changes their expectations of brands. For the retail industry in Saudi Arabia, some of the key drivers behind a consumer’s choice of brand revolve around integrity, product variety and personalisation.
Consumers value transparency, values and ethics as they want to buy from companies that share their values particularly revolving around social, environmental and ethical ideals. Consumers also value being provided a variety of options for each product which also changes with different seasons. This drives retail businesses in Saudi Arabia to provide the best in-season selections, making sure to stay ahead of the curve on the element of seasonality. Furthermore, the pandemic also ensured the adoption of digital technologies by several businesses to provide ease and convenience of shopping for their consumers.
Saudi Arabia’s market for e-commerce expanded exponentially in the past couple of years, highlighting its potential and pushing retail companies to leverage online shopping platforms for gaining a wider customer base. Innovations in personalised marketing, tailoring pages to fit customers and overall better customer experience of shopping online became key for companies to keep their consumers engaged.
Several e-commerce platforms like noon, Amazon and Namshi began expanding their marketing strategies on social media platforms that would display content according to the social media user’s preferences. Additionally, to hold the interest of users, e-commerce platforms began improving their analytics and incorporate technologies like augmented reality to increase sales by building loyalty and creating a high impact on consumers. Although Virtual reality is still at its nascent stages of application in KSA, the metaverse is expected to become a major force of shaping the retail shopping experience of the future.
What tools are retail companies using to personalise customer experience?
Virtual reality: Virtual reality (VR), currently at its nascent stage, has transformed the e-commerce world by enabling customers to ‘get the real feel’ of the products they are interested in purchasing. The largest e-commerce companies on a global level are including the use of an augmented/virtual reality-based shopping experience. One of these companies is Alibaba, extending a VR shopping experience in which the customer can connect their phones to a VR headset and browse through the catalogue of products just like they would in-store.
Augmented reality: A VR shopping experience is not common in Saudi Arabia; thus, many companies have adopted augmented reality to enhance shopping experience. Companies like IKEA (IKEA Place app), redsea.com, Sephora, Barakat Optical, Golden Scent amongst others have started offering a virtual or augmented experience where the user can place the products (furniture/home appliances) or try on beauty and eyewear products through augmented reality. This has been vastly popular with consumers as it helps them visualize their purchases fit better with their needs.
Customised marketing: While few companies offer AR/VR based shopping, personalisation through customised marketing efforts is commonly seen across most e-commerce websites and mobile applications. Brands in Saudi Arabia have taken to reaching out to their customers in various modes of communication based on analytics of data collected on consumer behaviour, i.e., the items they browsed through, their wish lists and their purchases. Moreover, companies also advertise their sales, discounts and new products via ad banners on their websites and other channels. KSA’s ad spending in-app is expected to grow to 0.5 billion USD by 2023.
Offline marketing: Offline marketing through social media applications have also surged with companies coming up with innovative marketing techniques, personalised to the customer and powered by data. Nestlé Middle East increased its purchases by implementing a bot for Facebook Messenger that suggested its products to users during Ramadan which led to the company doubling its sales on its website during the month. The company suggested products by utilizing and analysing user data to offer products according to their preferences and keeping up daily communication with consumers.
In closing, customers feel that a brand is trustworthy when it ensures that it fulfils on delivery of its promise to them. And when the brand continues to meet their demands and preferences, the consumers start to expect that their promises will continue to be met in the future. This gives rise to loyalty which holds the key to advocacy of the brand to the consumer’s friends, families and others within their network.
Thus, it is important to understand the consumer needs and establish a core customer-centric philosophy throughout the business, both customer-facing as well as non-customer facing functions. The right integration between the right people, the right mindset and the right technology can help retail companies truly achieve the delivery of an unparalleled customer experience. This in turn helps the company stay competitive while gaining opportunities to grow their customer base and retaining their loyalty.