In Q1 2019, WBR Insights surveyed 100 Directors of Commerce from across Europe to find out more about the challenges they face and the innovative solutions they bring to the table. This month, WBR Insights released the eTail Benchmarking Report: Personalisation, Automation and Internationalisation, which reflects the retailers’ views on matters like customer acquisition and loyalty, business development and expansion, and operations.

According to the results of the survey, customer experience emerges as a defining factor for success for retail businesses in Europe, and investments in technologies and processes that can positively affect CX are on the list of their priorities for the coming year (47 percent for artificial intelligence for customer care, 41 percent for faster delivery, 29 percent for omnichannel enablement).

When asked to rank channels in order of priority for creating the optimal customer experience, web and email ranked first and second respectively. Email is proven to be a highly responsive and effective component of the marketing mix, impacting every step of the customer journey, and Retailers in Europe seem to believe that as well.

While email is considered a trustworthy ally, GDPR remains a concern for retailers in Europe. Almost one in two of responders (47 percent) believe that GDPR is the greatest threat to their eCommerce business. A year after implementation, the regulation is still perceived as an obstacle to the businesses’ commercial development plans, even a bigger issue than fraud (18 percent) or Brexit (22 percent). Things could be different though. As SparkPost’s Head of Marketing, Tracy Sestili, points out, “there is a hidden gem here; a unique opportunity for businesses to improve the quality of their database, focus on customers who are really active and engaged, and improve their email deliverability, as well as the efficiency and ROI of their marketing programs.” At the end of the day, trying to reach out to consumers who are disengaged or indifferent about the business’ products is unproductive, inefficient and can well be a waste of time and valuable resources.

Retail businesses are looking for ways to optimize their performance and efficiency without increasing expenditure. When it comes to driving customer acquisition, 43 percent of the respondents agree that email marketing is a significant tool for their business, while the decreasing conversion rate is their most common challenge. Another common challenge appears to be the increasing costs of current channels and tools used for new customer acquisition.

There was a surprising finding in this report. When asked about the methods currently used to encourage customer loyalty, personalized offers were mentioned by only 29 percent of respondents. Given the increased interest in customer experience and concerns about engagement and conversion, it is clear that retailers in Europe can look into segmentation and personalization to improve the overall effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

You can download the full report here.

Happy reading!

~ Silvana