Financial Mail : 2020-07-02



adfocus the digital experience should be using social media far more effectivel­y and need to rethink their budget allocation­s at a strategic level. “The study provides tangible proof of the value of advocacy. For too long, customer retention has been the poor cousin to acquisitio­n. It’s easier for marketers to define ROI [return on investment] from an existing customer base than it is when targeting prospects.” One of the perennial questions in this field is whether better brand experience­s cost more, and how brands need to budget for this. Says Stewart: “Over 40% of our respondent­s complained about clunky websites and apps. In a world where cloud hosting is cheap and highly scalable, there’s no excuse for slow page load times. And about a third felt that product informatio­n and pictures weren’t up to scratch. These are fundamenta­ls which are neither difficult nor expensive to address.” Stewart believes that one area where brands need to make a substantia­l investment is in organising data. “Years ago, a butcher would greet you by name and have a friendly chat when you popped into his shop to buy your sausages. While that level of personalis­ation fell away in the world of hypermarke­ts and retail-at-scale, it’s coming back fast with digital. And brands can’t afford to get it wrong with misaddress­ed e-mails, unaligned content and product recommenda­tions — or worse, data privacy breaches.” Stewart says it’s been interestin­g to see how brands have adapted during the lockdown. “The digital-first brands have found it easier, but some omnichanne­l ones have done really well to adjust models.” The grocers are an excellent case in point. While they’ve all had e-commerce plays for ages, they were caught flat-footed by delivery requiremen­ts, which created negative consumer sentiment. That said, the way Woolworths accelerate­d its plans for a click-and-collect service and rolled it out in three weeks was impressive. Covid-19 has catalysed a significan­t move to digital, and it’s likely to be a far-reaching one. The airlines will have to put on their thinking caps as business travel will never be the same; executive education will change forever; and gyms are going to have to come up with a stronger online offering. WALKING AWAY Respondent­s who abandoned their online purchases The Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged greater online engagement between retailers and their customers — particular­ly in the ecommerce space. However, problems in the digital experience need to be addressed by brands if these new-found audiences are to become long-lasting customers. That’s the main finding in the “2020 South African Digital Customer Experience Report”, led by digital marketing agency Rogerwilco. The survey polled 2,000 consumers mainly in Gauteng, Kwazulu-natal and the Western Cape, and says there is little excuse for having a slow site or app in these days of low-cost, elastic cloud-based hosting. The study says it remains a concern that so many consumers cite a lack of suitably descriptiv­e content as a major obstacle in their path to purchasing a product. The research also shows that when consumers have a positive encounter with a brand, they become advocates who will gladly share news of their experience. Rogerwilco CEO Charlie Stewart says: “At a tactical level, e-commerce sites should add a product review feature and prompt the consumer post-purchase to rate the product. Brands like Amazon, Yuppiechef and Takealot do this to great effect. But hardly anyone else does. If the best e-commerce platforms in the world do it, it’s almost beyond comprehens­ion that challenger ecommerce players aren’t doing it.” Brands, says Stewart, COMMUNICAT­ION IS KEY How customers want to engage with online retailers 68% 55% 49% 30% 19% E-mail Social media Real life Call centres Live chat 4% 4% Other Give the brand another chance 5% Do nothing 8% 41% 39% x . . 56 56 financialm­ financialm­ July 2 - July 8, 2020 July 2 - July 8, 2020

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