Digital CX: How To Address Subtle Retail Changes


The retail digital customer experience is changing with the digital shift. There is a primary level of this experience that continues to move toward excellence, such as personalization, email optimization and the post-purchase infrastructure. There are also more subtle elements that have just recently presented themselves and must be addressed to be successful in the post-pandemic economy.

First, understand that messaging is a critical part of the customer experience. And eCommerce customers have not come to learn about the pandemic. There’s plenty of sources for that and by now, they get it. Yet too many eCommerce sites are leading with the problem. Maybe if it’s a message from the CEO the pandemic and its effect on the customer relationship, then the problem can be communicated well. Epsilon’s Digital CX group has referred to what it believes is the right balance, from the jewelry retailer Ross-Simons, which has a large selection of pet jewelry. Its email has the subject line: “Quality Time with Your Pet? Show Your Love! Save Up to 65%” and its header reads, “Staying In? Us Too.”

“Literally including the words “COVID-19” in your subject lines or copy is not strictly necessary, and may detract from the lighthearted tone you’re striving for,” says Epsilon. “Instead, nod to the experience. Customers will know what you’re referring to — we’re all experiencing the same situation — and will be thankful you’re actually speaking directly to what they’re feeling. Plus, shoppers are looking for ways to turn this experience into a more positive one, and you can help them out there. Don’t stick to overly somber messaging or cause undue stress. The last thing you want to be sending is urgency messaging during this sensitive time.”

Advertising is another underrated part of the customer experience. Just as customer experience (CX) begins before a shopper shops and continues after the purchase, advertising is often the earliest step in the journey. Whether it’s Amazon, eBay or Joe’s Watch Repair, digital ad rates are still low because so many big brands have pulled back. This doesn’t mean to bet the bank on a big campaign or load up on TV. Social media sites are making it easy and effective to create dynamic ad campaigns, served in real time and optimized as if a big-time agency was involved. For example, last week Snap announced the expansion of its advertising product, Dynamic Ads. The ad product introduced last fall automatically creates ads through a variety of mobile-ready templates. The Snap platform is available and accessible regardless of budget or retail scope. And it has an addressable audience of Snapchat’s 229 million daily active users.

Above all, the post-pandemic eCommerce experience requires agility, or the ability to make changes in near real time. A retail luxury goods site may have shifted its messaging and advertising toward shoppers who are buying luxury goods online for the first time. And maybe the reason for that is that eCommerce is the only available option, or at least the safest option. But what happens when a vaccine is approved, proven effective and rolled out to the masses? Is that messaging still the most relevant?

Other shifts are more subtle and require data to be agile enough to catch key shifts within the digital shift. For example, in the U.K., one of the shifts that will make eCommerce stick is the changing behavior of the country’s older demographic.

“An important factor that will make the 2020 shift to eCommerce permanent is the changing habits of Britain’s older demographic. Though e-commerce has had a very high level of adoption among the youngest segment of the consumer population, the over 40 demographic has remained stereotypically reluctant,” Luminati Networks CEO Or Lenchner writes in Business Leader. “But the inescapable reality of social distancing has meant they have recently been forced to abandon any hesitation or technophobia. Our online data collected in collaboration with our partners shows that older consumers are now embracing online retail and are currently using e-commerce at a rate 15 percent higher than the same time last year. And now that the initial familiarization process has taken place, we expect their newly found enthusiasm to continue even after lockdown eases.”



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.