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Retailers need to do more than ever to win consumers’ hearts

Kimberly Chin
Feb 24, 2023
Illustration of an arrow in the middle of a heart-shaped target

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Retailers seeking loyal shoppers have to do more than just center the customer — they must provide convenience and a reason to return.

Why it matters: Customer satisfaction has declined notably since 2018, the American Customer Satisfaction Index finds.

  • Customer satisfaction within the retail trade sector — which encompasses general merchandise retailers, specialty retailers, supermarkets, online retailers, gas stations and drugstores — fell 0.5%, according to the group.

Zoom out: “Retailers are now in a landscape where the customer is truly king, and just delivering customer-centricity is no longer enough to confer loyalty or advocacy,” according to the EY Future of Retail report.

Zoom in: Technology, including cashless payments and online orders and returns, is on the list of customer demands, EY's Thomas Harms tells Kimberly.

  • Retailers "should think about what is adding value to the consumers, and then how technology can enable this," he says.
  • Driven by the quick pace of developing technology and innovation, retailers need to find ways to save consumers time and make the time spent meaningful.
  • The service provider needs to make itself "indispensable to the customer by holistically solving a distinct area of consumer need," such as by merging different services, the EY report finds.

The big picture: The advent of online players has driven more customer personalization, further enhancing their experience.

  • Consumers are thinking, "Now I want the assortment and convenience and personalization and service" in addition to the good price, Harms says. "Technology has made this possible."

Of note: Brands also need to unite a community, serving as a hub for social interaction and building intimacy with the customer.

Editors note: This story has been corrected to note findings were from EY's Future of Retail report, not its Future Consumer Index.

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