Customers have long had the option to ‘checkout as a guest’, offering a frictionless payment that avoids annoying emails or having to remember your password.
It also provides browsers, with no intention of sharing their contact information by setting up an account, a convenient path to purchase.
However, by doing so both customers and retailers are losing out. Retailers can’t collect valuable user data, preferences, or information that could help them deliver a more personalised, competitive user experience. By not logging in, shoppers also miss out on personalised suggestions and better deals. They also can’t pick up or resume ‘abandoned baskets’, and they can’t find things they previously viewed on a different device.
Retailers need to make the password and checkout process as simple as the ‘check out as a guest’ option, by offering a smooth, satisfying, and secure Customer Experience. To do this, they need unrivalled visibility into the customer journey and a strong process for data-driven decision making.
The customer is always right
A crucial part of the Customer Experience is freedom of choice. A customer should be able to choose the channel and payment method that best suits them. If they can’t use their preferred method of payment with one retailer, then can simply take their business to a competitor.
Retailers, then, shouldn’t work to remove the guest checkout option, but strive to make signing up and checking in so seamless and easy that it becomes customers’ first choice. Achieving this, however, will need brands to take a cold, hard look at their customer intelligence and engagement strategies.
The customer view has become fundamentally fragmented over the last few years. Consumers have changed, becoming more mobile, and can no longer be relied on to use only one channel. It’s now common for a customer to interact with a brand across multiple touchpoints – in-store, desktop, mobile, and app – over the course of a single purchase.
Retailers have courted this new breed of customer by investing heavily in online platforms. Where they’ve fallen short is ensuring the entire omnichannel experience is joined-up. The reality of signing in to complete a purchase on your phone only to need to do it again hours later on your desktop is eye-rolling, but all-too-common.
Get connected, get competitive
The solution to a fragmented online experience is a connected customer engagement strategy. Seeding unified communication and collaboration tools within your touchpoints will help deliver meaningful customer experiences, giving you access to more customer insight, and agility to move at their speed.
You should have in place the infrastructure to track where your customers go in-store and online, what they interact with most, and what channel they move to next. Collecting this data and ensuring it is easily accessible at every stage of the customer journey will avoid any breaks or unnecessary disruptions.
Having this data to hand will also rapidly speed up the sign-in process. Instead of asking the customer to enter one or more passwords or security questions, your authentication system will be able to sign them in based on device, location, and behavioural data. Sign-in becomes passive and automatic, providing a truly frictionless but secure online experience.
The proof is in the profit. Those with a strong omnichannel customer engagement strategy retain an average of 89 percent of their customers, compared to 33 percent for companies with an unstructured approach.
Ultimately, to stay competitive, retailers need to double down on data, becoming more responsive and integrated. Arm yourself with the technology, tools and expertise to create measured, streamlined experiences built on a solid strategy of understanding the customer journey and its individual pitstops.