In an era of increased competition and more informed consumer decision making, there’s no denying that Customer Experience now lies at the heart of modern retail.

In the pursuit of an ever-improved experience however, retailers and CX professionals must be careful not to overlook the fact that experience is little more than ‘personal interpretation’ –  a subjective viewpoint, which regularly alters from customer to customer. For all our efforts, the quality of the experience ultimately depends on the mood of the customer, not – necessarily – on the specific product or service. And in this day and age no mood or emotion is more often encountered than stress.

A recent report which incorporates analysis from Clicktale psychologists, retail experts and a survey of over 2,000 US and UK consumers has found that, despite a growing focus on customer experience across the retail industry, many consumers are frustrated and stressed out by online, mobile, and in-store shopping experiences.

It’s long been assumed that, because consumers are able to shop from the comfort of their homes, the stressful elements of the shopping experience have been removed in the online/mobile space. Clearly this isn’t the case. Despite finding offline shopping the most stressful experience, many consumers still feel high levels of stress when navigating e-commerce websites and apps. While 12 percent feel stressed when buying online, 15 percent go as far as to say they have ‘lost their temper’ when shopping online or via a mobile app.

Clicktale’s research also reveals that these stress levels rise as shoppers navigate through the customer journey, reaching a peak during the checkout process. Surprisingly however, while shopping experiences are clearly adding to consumer stress, customers are still keen to use shopping as a form of ‘retail therapy’ – as a way to reduce stress.

According to Clicktale’s research, as many as 40 percent of shoppers are using ‘retail therapy’ as a way to calm down. This phenomenon – the rise of the stress shopper – must become a fundamental consideration for CX professionals as they plan customer journeys and their overall approach to experience.

Given that so many consumers are using shopping as a way to alleviate stress, the last thing that businesses and retailers want to do is offer shopping experiences that add to, rather than reduce, the stress levels of their customers. As things stand however, this happens all too often.

To overcome this fact, retailers and brands need to think much more carefully about the role of customer emotions throughout the shopping experience. By using experience analytics to examine mouse-movements, taps, swipes, and ‘rage clicks’, CX professionals can understand where the frustration occurs and where the path to purchase is being disrupted.

Even seemingly insignificant stimuli can have a strong impact on customer emotions, especially when it comes to irritation over poor page layouts and slow search speeds. While previously overlooked by brands, these seemingly minor stressors can significantly impact the customer experience, digital conversion rates and, ultimately, the business’ bottom line.

For today’s brands, the fastest way to ensure customer loyalty is by providing a stress-free shopping experience. This experience should not only minimise consumer stress, it must also account for all of the different mindsets, moods and emotions that shoppers may experience as they work their way through a purchase journey. 

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