February 20, 2019 | Jeff Sylvester

Digital Is the Front Door to the Retail Customer Experience


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Customer voices are loud and clear on web and mobile—if you’re listening

What’s the best way to describe the current state of retail customer experience? Picture this….

The setting: Any retailer-customer interaction, anywhere, any time.

Retailer: “Hi! Looking for anything in particular today?”

Customer: “Oh, I don’t think so. Just exceptional and customized experiences, all the time. Especially in digital, where I like to browse, research, and decide if your business deserves my time, trust, and money. Thanks.”

Customers may not convey their needs and intentions so openly, but if you look closely (which we love doing), that scenario is an accurate description of what’s happening. And we have the data to prove it.

The State of Retail Digital Experience

The latest Digital Experience Index (DXI) for Q4 2018 shows that customers continue to personalize their journeys while increasing their use of web and mobile as the front door to the brand experience.

Where customers start and end their journeys when using at least one digital channel:

Digital continues to have an outsized role in the way customers browse, research, and buy. No surprise, since it’s always available, handy (literally in our hands), and adds depth and context to the shopping experience— with reviews, images, chatbots, etc.—that no other channel can match.

But customers are happy to mix it up with clicks and bricks—it’s still an omnichannel world.

And even though more purchases happen in-store, satisfaction scores peak in digital.

Purchase CSAT:

  • 84.2 web
  • 82.6 mobile
  • 81.6 store

What Matters in Retail CX, According to Retail Customers


When a customer logs in to a retail website, the retailer can create a personalized version of the site for that one shopper. Shopping history, lists, recommendations, personalized coupons and other customizations are valuable to buyers, saving them time and money and creating a sense of familiarity with the brand. Authentication is a big win for retailers, too, boosting NPS by 17 points.

But only…

  • 44% of retail visitors report being logged in during their recent digital visit—an opportunity for many retailers to simplify and incentivize authentication.


Mobile continues to grow for all industries, but retail and mobile have proven to be an especially good match for each other. This quarter’s DXI found that:

  • 56% of purchases that started in a digital channel began in mobile, a “holiday bump” from Q3’s 40%.
  • 40% of shoppers say mobile was their preferred way to research prior to purchase—one-third more than those preferring desktop and almost twice those who prefer to research in store.
  • 40% reported using a mobile device as part of the shopping experience while they were in a retail store.

Satisfaction Drivers

What’s most important to great digital retail experiences—site look and feel, site performance, site information, or navigation elements? The answer depends on many factors, including seasons.

ForeSee Priority Maps use CX data to show which improvements will yield the biggest business benefits. Drivers in the bottom right quadrant are ripe for prioritization due to their relatively high impacts and low score. For Q4, navigation and site information were the keys to driving a satisfying visitor experience in retail. That means busy holiday shoppers were most concerned with finding items from their lists. For comparison, site performance was a top priority element (along with navigation) for Q3 2018.

The Digitally Minded Shopper Is Still on an Omnichannel Journey

Digital is convenient and simple and comes with other shopper and seller perks. But stores still fill an important need, giving a brand a name and face, or providing an environmental experience that digital can’t offer. Which is why:

  • 57% of digitally-minded shoppers used more than one channel and multiple touchpoints during the purchase journey.
  • NPS is four points higher for shoppers who use digital and non-digital channels in their purchase journeys.

Customers know what good CX looks and feels like, and they reward retailers that deliver—on digital and at every other point in the journey. Read more about digital CX leadership in the DXI for Q4 2018. Then get in touch with us for a briefing: We can show how the right digital customer experience strategy will help you meet broader business goals.

About the Author

Senior Analyst and Customer Success Manager Jeff Sylvester leads survey design at ForeSee and uses his data-science and market-research expertise to help our clients advance their CX programs.

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