SAP study reveals expanding disconnect between customer, retailer perceptions

Marianne Wilson
“Rewarding loyalty" ranked as the top priority for consumers but not for retailers in 2023.

Retailers and consumers are not aligned when it comes to priorities and preferences across the board, including frequency of engagement.

That's according to research by Emarsys, an SAP Company, which found that 61% of retailers surveyed believe that their customers want to hear from them multiple times a week.

In reality, only 31% of consumers agree, with the majority preferring contact once a week or less.  And 15% only want to hear from retailers when there are specials or deals, with 12% never wanting to hear from retailers — something realized by just 5% and 2% of retailers respectively.

In other differences, rewarding customer loyalty (50%) tops the list of what customers want to see from retailers in a year where purse strings are tight. This is followed by improving customer service (46%), understanding customers better (35%), connecting the online and in-store experience (30%) and making the delivery process better (28%).

Retailers, however, a slightly different list, with a huge focus on digital. Improving customer service (53.4%) is the top priority for retailers in 2023, followed by rewarding customer loyalty (53%), enhancing online experiences (50%), understanding customers better (49%) and providing more digital experiences (44%).

While 45% of consumers would still like to hear about upcoming sales in-store, over half (51%) prefer to hear about upcoming sales via email, and 44% want to hear about them on social media.

For new product announcements, however, in store (46.7%) tops the list of preferred channels, followed by on social media (46.3%) and via email (45%).

“These distinctions re-emphasize the need for marketers to be customer-obsessed and provide consumers with the most timely and personalized discounts and messages, in the right places,” the study advised.

The study also found a disconnect in belief between what is done with customer feedback. According to the research, 82% of retailers surveyed always review customer feedback in full and make adjustments accordingly. However, only 30% of consumers think that retailers really review the feedback provided, with 16% believing although their feedback is read, no real changes are made as a result.

Connecting with customers in the right way, with the right message, is crucial for retailer success in 2023 – and the channels customers want to be kept informed via also varies wildly across topics.

"In today's uncertain economic times, meeting customers where they are means everything,” stated Meghann York, global head of product marketing, Emarsys. “Retailers in 2023 need to be brave with their communications, undergoing a process of ruthless prioritization that leaves only the most meaningful, curated communications at the heart of their marketing. If you get your message right – your customers will not only want to hear from you, they'll want to engage with you. This is only achievable through an obsession with the customer; understanding exactly what they want to hear, at exactly the right frequency, and delivering that personalization everywhere they go."

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