The Retail Firmament: Email And The Customer Experience

Retailers are crawling toward delivering a holistic customer experience. And they have a long way to go, according to The Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey, a report by BRP.

Most retailers use personal email — 81% say they do. And 12% expect to use it within three years.  

But 45% admit their email marketing needs improvement. And not all are succeeding at delivering a unified cross-channel experience to customers.

Of over 500 North American retailers polled, 81% pursue a multichannel or omnichannel program, but only 5% have reached a “true unified commerce model,” the study states.

The result is a “faux” omnichannel model, according to BRP, a retail management consulting firm. 

Meanwhile, only 31% are providing consistent pricing and promotion across channels and feel it is working well. And lesser percentages say the same about consistent product assortment, visible returns acceptance, order tracking and inventory visibility across channels.



Moreover, retailers are slow in adopting new technologies. Only 7% have implemented AI, including digital assistants and chatbots. But they feel they need to improve at it. 

At the same time, 48% plan to implement AI within three years, and 31% say the same about augmented reality. In addition, 21% expect to employ virtual reality in three years.

Of all the channels being utilized, the call center is No. 1 — used by 45%, with 36% saying they need improvement in this area. 

Email and social media are tied for second place. But 58% say they need to improve their social media performance.

Overall, the top priority of the respondents is to increase customer loyalty — 53% are pursuing this goal. The second objective, cited by 42%, is to optimize the customer experience.

Tied for third, each being listed by 36%, are the creation of a seamless customer experience and providing personalized promotions, recommendations or offerings.

Personalization remains a challenge — only 10% are using it and feel it is working well, but 21% see a need for improvement. And 45% will implement it within three years.

Moreover, organizations are struggling with customer service via mobile. Only 24% are satisfied with their capability, and that’s down from 34% last year.

How do they find out what customers think? Social media is used for this by 75%, but 61% think they need improvement.

Of those polled, 14% use the Net Promoter Score and are pleased with the results, with 21% seeking improvement 

Worse, from a classic direct marketing perspective, only 24% measure customer lifetime value, with 14% are dissatisfied with their effectiveness at it. But 45% hope to start it within three years. 

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