A guide to retail customer experience trends in 2023
Retail purchase journeys are becoming increasingly complex. Not only do shoppers want a more streamlined and enjoyable shopping experience — they want it on all channels, all the time. As a retailer, it’s your job to give shoppers what they want so you can come out ahead of the competition, both locally and nationally.
So, which customer experience trends should retail stores follow in the new year? Check out our guide to discover six retail customer experience trends your store should be aware of going into 2023.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
- Top retail customer experience trends for 2023
- Omnichannel retail customer experience
- Experiential retail
- Employee empowerment
- Unique physical stores
- Sustainability across the supply chain
- How to implement these trends at your retail store
The top retail customer experience trends for 2023
The world’s biggest brands are investing a whopping $700 million on customer experience (CX). That’s an enormous amount of money businesses are investing into the shopping experience.
Studies show that customer experience — not product — is now the main differentiator for brands. Since 86% of shoppers are willing to pay more for a better shopping experience, you have a lot to gain by improving the customer experience.
But retail customer experience trends come and go. For 2023, you need to go beyond just offering an ecommerce experience. Follow these six trends to stay on the cutting edge of retail CX going forward.
1. Omnichannel retail customer experience
As a retail store owner, you might put the bulk of your focus into your physical storefront. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in 2023, brands have to acknowledge that shoppers don’t exclusively shop at brick-and-mortar stores.
Customers use several channels to engage with their favorite retailers. You need good omnichannel CX to engage with shoppers wherever they find you. The key is to give them a consistent experience via shoppable social media, your website, your store, and other channels.
Omnichannel is one of the hottest retail CX trends because it boosts sales. In fact, using three or more channels can increase orders by nearly 5 times. Omnichannel shoppers also spend 10% more online and 4% more in store compared to single-channel shoppers.
Retailers that invest in omnichannel sales do better because they’re appealing to how shoppers want to buy from them. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers prefer to shop via multiple channels, and half of all shoppers look at products online before they buy them in store.
In 2023, personalization requires a lot more than simply dropping a customer’s name in an email. Shoppers expect personalization in the form of product suggestions, sizing, and smart cross-sells.
This retail customer experience trend isn’t just a nice-to-have — 72% of shoppers say they will only reply to retail marketing messages if they’re personalized, and 36% of customers say retailers need to personalize the shopping experience even more. It’s clear that brands have their work cut out for them in 2023.
Brands are trying to bridge the personalization gap by investing in software that collects and analyzes data for personalization. A whopping 79% of retailers invest in personalization, which is more than any other industry. Plus, 25% of marketers that invested in personalization reported a 20% increase in revenue.
The trick is to invest in a smart personalization platform that allows you to personalize at scale. Adobe Commerce helps businesses of all sizes reach customers wherever they are, using personalized insights that foster one-on-one relationships with all of your shoppers.
3. Experiential retail
It isn’t enough for retailers to offer impeccable service or excellent products. Experiential retail is a must to bring in more shoppers both in store and online. With experiential retail, brands bring innovative, creative, or unusual experiences to their physical stores and online channels.
The goal of experiential retail is to create a community around your brand. Sales are a happy consequence of retail experiences, which happen in a shareable omnichannel environment.
Experiences in your physical store serve as a big draw for foot traffic. You become a fun destination for curious shoppers who want something to do. Brands like LUSH are doing this right, with in-store demos, crafts, and events that bring shoppers inside. Some businesses offer services like fittings or makeovers, while other retailers install fun vending machines inside their stores.
But online experiences matter, too. Technology like augmented reality (AR) allows shoppers to try before they buy via digital channels. It’s no wonder why retailers like Amazon and IKEA use AR to show what a piece of furniture will look like in your home before you order it. This is a unique and helpful feature, but you can also offer digital experiences like:
- Virtual concerts or dance parties
- Games in your branded app, complete with a leaderboard
- AR makeover tools
Experiential retail might sound like a lot of work, but it’s now one of the top five most popular retail customer experience trends. That’s because experiential retail helps you:
- Stand out. If you want to draw attention to your brand in a genuine, unique way, you need to create retail experiences. This is a compelling approach that encourages shoppers to engage with you in a way that they can’t with any other brand. Since 32% of shoppers prefer to engage with in-store experiences instead of online experiences, you shouldn’t overlook the power of in-person connection.
- Connect with shoppers. Shoppers are much more likely to remember a brand that hosted a wild bubble rave party than a generic retailer that didn’t provide a memorable experience. In fact, 91% of shoppers report a positive association with a brand after attending an experiential event. This trend is a must if you want shoppers to like and remember you.
- Encourage purchases. Experiential retail increases the likelihood that shoppers will buy something from your store. Since 74% of shoppers say they’re likely to buy promoted products after an experience, this trend can lead to a big boost in sales.
4. Empowering your employees
When you take care of your employees, they’ll take better care of your customers. If they feel motivated and empowered, employees will go above and beyond for your customers, which is what shoppers demand in 2023.
As a business, you already know how hard it is to find and retain retail workers. It isn’t easy, but empowering employees can help brands increase engagement — and profits. In fact, companies with engaged workers are 21% more profitable and see 41% lower absenteeism.
Every retail brand is different, but you can empower your employees with the following:
- Effective management. Research shows that 96% of employees say empathy would improve employee retention, but 92% feel it isn’t valued at their company. Train your management team on effective leadership. Emphasize that old-fashioned, top-down management styles don’t work anymore. If possible, involve employees in your leadership decisions to foster trust and transparency.
- Training. Don’t give employees two hours of training and expect them to handle all customer questions gracefully. Retail workers need ongoing training not only on your products and services but also on soft skills like communication and conflict resolution. That’s the key to empowering your workforce to better serve customers.
- Data access. Nothing is more disempowering than trying to help a customer but lacking the information to solve the issue. Your store can improve the customer experience by giving employees access to the systems or data they need to do their jobs.
- Technology. Are you running your stores with a skeleton crew? Don’t contribute to employee burnout. Instead, empower workers with technology that lightens their workload. That might mean implementing buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) options or offering customer service kiosks in store.
5. Physical stores need to offer something unique
In-store retail sales are 14% higher today than pre-pandemic, so shoppers clearly want to connect with your products in person. While ecommerce is now an absolute must, shoppers are returning to physical retail stores, albeit with different expectations.
Customers want something different from the in-store shopping experience. They want to get items that they can’t find online or with any other brand. This is a popular retail customer experience trend that brands of all sizes should act on. Try to offer something unique at your store like:
- Fittings or sizings
- Product demos
- Exclusive in-store deals
- Partnerships with influencers or non-competing brands
Since in-store shoppers spend 31% more than online shoppers, your retail store needs a unique draw in 2023 to boost foot traffic.
Retail is a fast-moving industry, so store owners have to stay on top of the latest trends to stay ahead of the competition.
6. Sustainability across the supply chain
Maybe your store already recycles cardboard or soda cans, and that’s great. But shoppers expect to see much more from brands in 2023, and that means investing in sustainability initiatives.
Consumers want to know they support businesses that operate sustainably and minimize their environmental impact. Data from 2022 shows that 24% of shoppers want products that are free from harmful or synthetic ingredients, 19% want to see minimal shipping packaging, and another 19% want brands to donate unused inventory.
Whether you opt for sustainable materials, carbon-neutral shipping, or recycling initiatives, this retail CX trend should affect every facet of your business. It might seem like a hassle to go green, but it has tremendous benefits for your brand.
- You’ll save money. It can cost less to opt for efficient lighting, water-efficient appliances, and other alternatives. If you’re trying to spend less on your storefront, sustainability is a must.
- Young shoppers expect it. After healthcare and unemployment, the environment is a top concern for millennial and Gen Z shoppers. Since 66% of customers would pay more for eco-friendly goods, there’s clearly demand from shoppers for these types of products.
- It improves supply chain longevity. If you opt for a sustainable supply chain, you’re ensuring that your resources last for decades. Instead of exhausting all your materials now, you ensure your brand will have the raw materials it needs to stay in business for years.
Implementing these trends with your retail store
Retail is a fast-moving industry, so store owners have to stay on top of the latest trends to stay ahead of the competition. Trends come and go. In 2023, retailers need to follow these six customer experience retail trends to dominate the market:
- Omnichannel CX
- Experiential retail
- Employee empowerment
- Unique physical stores
When you’re ready to get started, your store will need the right technology in place to improve the customer experience. That’s where Adobe Commerce comes in. Commerce incorporates technology easily to support omnichannel retail CX, hyper-personalization, experiential retail, and more.
Build multichannel commerce experiences for B2B and B2C customers on a single platform. From catalog to payment to fulfillment, our future-proof technology gives you a commerce platform that’s endlessly flexible and scalable.