Nine Ways Online-Only Retailers Can Create Memorable Customer Experiences


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By taking advantage of lighting, scents, displays or direct customer service, retail has a straightforward way of creating a memorable experience for its customers. When your business is online-only, however, you don’t have a physical environment to leverage — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to “wow” your customers.

Below, the members of Rolling Stone Culture Council recommend nine methods for leaving a lasting impression on your audience — and all you need to get started is a little ingenuity.

Create Unique, Engaging Content

Throughout the pandemic, many businesses transitioned to online-only. To create a memorable experience, your business must focus on unique and engaging content. By utilizing social media platforms and hosting virtual events, you can still authentically connect with your customers without having a brick-and-mortar store. A fantastic example of this is a restaurant hosting an online cooking class. – Jamie Evans, The Herb Somm

Find Opportunities for Personalization

Personalization is key when it comes to online shopping. Businesses spend loads of time and use lots of tactics to collect consumer data through profiles and customer accounts, but often miss the mark on making their experiences feel personalized. Make product suggestions, personalize the homepage, make location-based suggestions, show customers love on their birthday or try inviting them to exclusive virtual events. – Matt Tuffuor, Toasted Life

Tell a Compelling Story

Storytelling is the key. Finding what makes your brand different, and then leaning in and telling compelling stories about those differences can really bring a brand to life and drive loyalty. Those stories can be about the manufacturing process, sourcing, your employees, the journey your products take — you name it. But stories make the world, and brands, go round. – John Tabis, The Bouqs Company

Focus on Building Excitement

I believe the most important part of creating an experience with regards to an online business is to make the process exciting for the consumer. The last thing you want is for the customer to have any doubt after making a purchase. You can build this confidence in your consumer in many ways, including with influencers they might look up to, access to a unique online platform or even just bragging rights! – Tyler Kowalske, Outpost Brands

The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?

Be Intentional With Your Design Elements

The best way to create this experience online is similar to the way you would in person — by ensuring your brand and personality shine through. Instead of the lighting and displays you may see in a store, you can include graphics and color schemes that stand out and allow your customers to see what your brand really is. These elements allow your customer to remember you and have a unique experience on your site. – Codie Sanchez, Contrarian Thinking

Incorporate Augmented and Virtual Reality

The virtual retail experience should allow for users to upload images of themselves and have clothes overlaid on the pictures — the future of trying on clothing. Additionally, car manufacturers should present cars to be viewed online like a piece of art at a museum. With larger purchased items, 3D renderings should be used so users can walk through the items. – Adam Rumanek, Aux Mode Inc.

Genuinely Connect With Your Customers

Selling a service online is challenging. Utilize your website and social media channels to genuinely connect with your target audience, provide an authentic and enticing glimpse of the value of your services and answer why a customer should choose your company over others. Also, make sure your website is user-friendly and your company is responsive to ensure a positive online experience. – Jessica Passman, Hunter + Esquire

Do Something Against the Grain

Life in the 21st century is all about the experience, whether you’re viewing it through a phone or in real life. The brands that stand out in my mind are those that can do both mediums incredibly well. At the end of the day, all consumer businesses are just fighting for the attention of the customer. Be bold, do something that goes against the grain and be comfortable testing the boundaries of the norm. – Brett Fink, GRTR

Ensure a Frictionless Shopping Process

When we build online platforms, we always challenge ourselves to provide as frictionless of an experience as possible for the customer. Is it easy to shop? Add products to cart? Log in? Search for a product? In addition, we always encourage retailers to have a loyalty program, which is highly effective in differentiating them from their competitors and creating customer engagement and retention. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery

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