Skip to Main Content
Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Optimizing the Retail & CPG Customer Experience with the Right Product Experiences

Co-authored by Tom Quish and Ben Rothman
Person scrolling through a clothing website on their smartphone
Optimizing the Retail & CPG Customer Experience with the Right Product ExperiencesSVP, Customer Experience — Tom Quish
Person scrolling through a clothing website on their smartphone

Product experience (PX) is not always as well-known as a concept when compared to customer experience (CX), but it’s an important element of the most effective retail and CPG customer journeys—the ones that delight shoppers. At its simplest, product experience consists of engagements with digital products that center the needs of the person on the journey. For example, an augmented reality tool that shows online furniture shoppers what a particular table will look like in their dining room is a product that makes it easier for the customer to make an informed purchasing decision. So is a search engine that automatically suggests related products based on what a customer is looking for.

In the CPG and retail spaces, digital products can enhance the key touchpoints a customer has with a brand over the course of their relationship, including online and in-store interactions. Digital products can also help close gaps in the customer journey. In facilitating discovery, decision making, and product selection, PX elevates the employee experience as well, by eliminating or reducing some repetitive or tedious tasks. When Product Experience, Customer Experience, and Employee Experience work together, they improve the Total Experience for everyone involved in front, middle, and back office experiences.

Digital Products in the Retail/CPG Customer Journey

In general, product experiences fall into one of three categories: in-product experiences, companion experiences, and productization of services. Each category supports different kinds of consumer needs or wants.

In-product experiences can help brands meet the expectations of customers who want to be immersed in the retail experience. During the height of the pandemic, World Market wanted to help customers enjoy the same kind of holiday browsing experience online that they’d enjoyed in stores in the past. Working with Rightpoint, the retailer provided its customers with a 3D, interactive browsing experience within the brand’s website. It featured more than 550 products presented in a typical World Market physical store layout. Product storytelling, holiday themed content, and ease of adding featured products to carts rounded out the immersive experience for customers who couldn’t shop in stores but still wanted the experience they’d come to expect from World Market.

Companion experiences enable customers to engage more fully with a product or brand story, to enhance the quality of their experience. A hard cider manufacturer worked with Rightpoint to develop an app that served as a tasting, notes, and pairing recommendation companion for several of the brand’s flavors. Information about the specific orchards where the apples were grown for each flavor, and how the products were made, helped extend the brand story and deepen customer engagement with the brand.

Productization of services creates experiences based on customer data analytics. An online clothing subscription retailer might use its historical customer demographic and order data to create a tool that lets new customers identify their style. The retailer can then use that information to curate product selections for the new customer, increasing the likelihood of satisfaction and repeat orders.

Planning Digital Products to Support CX

Because there are many use cases for digital products that enhance CX, and because these projects can be complicated in terms of processes and technology, it’s important to start with a clear goal in mind. Our clients typically come to us with one of two initial goals: to use digital products as key parts of holistic CX makeover, or to resolve a specific problem within the customer journey.

Both processes begin with defining the problem–a roadmap to better end-to-end CX in the case of a comprehensive upgrade, or a detailed definition of the specific problem a digital product may solve. Goal setting and defining the role of digital products in reaching those goals comes next. For example, is the new product experience intended to drive engagement, conversions, or something else?

The next step is research. Planning should draw on the company’s customer data, and it’s also important to get a fresh perspective on the customer journey. That may mean talking through the end-to-end journey for purchases and customer service from the perspectives of the front-line staff, middle office staff, and the back-end employees who handle the CX technology. Effective digital product research for CX also requires interviewing customers, watching how they navigate sites and stores, and understanding the pain points along their journey.

Research findings can help identify issues in the overall experience and illuminate the details around why those gaps or friction points exist. Those insights allow the team to develop human-centered product solutions to these problems. That development usually requires upgrades or optimizations of the technical side of the CX operation, to integrate legacy systems and architectures with the newer technologies required to create the desired experiences. Once the new experiences are ready, they require testing, feedback, and optimization to ensure that they work as planned and to get the most value from them.

Finding the Right PX Partner for the CPG and Retail Customer Journey

Planning delightful product experiences for the customer journey requires a suite of skills that include and extend beyond customer experience. The examples described above require skills in research, analytics, and strategy as well as process development, product design, technology integration, and systems architecture.

Because of the scope of skills required, many retail and CPG organizations prefer working with an experienced product experience partner, one with:

  • A track record of successful PX creation and implementation for major retail and CPG brands.

  • Experience and certifications in data-privacy compliance.

  • Expertise in complex technology integration and deployment for future proof PX and CX.

  • A holistic approach to experience design that centers around the Total Experience.

To learn more about creating product experiences that enhance your customer journeys and your Total Experience, contact us today.