Retail customer experience benchmarking - Best practices & best-in-class retailers

February 2018

For our omni-channel customer experience benchmarking project we put together a list of principles across a range of categories such as store details, personalisation, customer service and cross-promotion. In this article, we share some of the best-in-class examples from each category of customer experience principle.

Google Customer Experience
Google Customer Experience


Below are some of the best practices, insights and examples of excellence from each of the customer experience principles used in our study.

Principle 1:  Product Information

Provide product related information on your website that enables and encourages purchases in any channel. 

Study findings:

  • 70% of retailers offer some form of product reviews and ratings on their website.
  • Only 25% of retailers offer a clear and consistent indication of product availability online. 27% give no indication at all.
  • 48% of retailers offer a clear and consistent indication of product availability in-store. 32% give no indication at all.

Example of what good looks like:

Adidas (DE)

Adidas make great use of product reviews and ratings.

  • Good number of reviews per product, which gives consumers a sense of trust in the content and ratings.
  • Customer can enter and review ratings per product attribute.
  • There is a voting system for reviews and filters help quickly answer questions that customers might have.

Principle 2:  Store Details

On your website, provide store information and store details that make it easy and interesting to find and visit a store nearby.

Study findings:

  • For only 66% of retailers, the store locator is easy to find and access, and convenient to use.
  • 30% of retailers do not offer directions to their store as part of the store locator on their website.
  • 23% of retailers publish no contact information for their stores on their website.
  • The mobile websites of 45% of retailers do not request to use geolocation to find a store nearby. 

Example of what good looks like: 

Sephora (FR)

Sephora shows customers the store information they need in the quickest possible way.

  • Mobile optimised store locator that utilises a user’s geo-location.
  • Relevant information such as opening hours and contact details clearly listed.
  • Allows users to filter results based on services offered in-store and to book appointments.

Principle 3: Personalisation

Personalise the customer experience across all of your sales and marketing channels.

Study findings:

  • 38% of retailers do not let customers set or modify their personal preferences.
  • 66% of retailers do not send personalised email newsletters.

Example of what good looks like:

Decathlon (FR)

Decathlon tailor both the customer experience and their marketing efforts - driving engagement and retaining customer interest.

  • Users can customise their preferences and personalise their account.
  • Preferences include nearest store, prefered types of communication, what kind of sports are of interest, and personal details.

Principle 4: Frictionless Movement Between Channels

Enable frictionless movement between channels for your customers.        

Study Findings:

  • 33% of retailers do not provide a Multi-Channel/Device shopping Basket that is persistent across devices.
  • Only 37% of retailers offer truly omni-channel gift cards.
  • Only 31% of retailers offer truly omni-channel loyalty programs.

Example of what good looks like:

NetOnNet (SE)

NetOnNet enables frictionless movement between channels

  • Wish-lists and shopping baskets are synced to a customer’s account and immediately available across devices.
  • Gift cards can be bought and redeemed both online and offline and card balance can easily be checked and increased.
  • NetOnNet’s loyalty program allows members to claim offers in-store and online.

Principle 5: Flexible Fulfillment

Give customers flexibility in how to receive, collect and return their purchases.

Study Findings:

  • 77% of retailers offer some form of click-and-collect.
  • Only 33% of retailers offer some form of reserve-and-collect (with payment in-store).
  • 38% of retailers do not offer next day delivery.
  • Only 13% of retailers offer unconditional free delivery.
  • 48% of retailers offer unconditional free returns.
  • Only 17% of retailers do not allow online orders to be returned to their stores at all.
  • Only 33% of retailers make it easy to order online for delivery at home when in-store.
  • 15% of retailers can’t check stock in another branch when a customer asks in a store.

 Examples of what good looks like:

New Look (UK)

New Look make it possible to Click-and-Collect orders to both stores and other locations (such as Collect Plus).

  • Customers can select their preference for collection, depending on if they would like the fastest, cheapest or closest option.
  • Options include next day and named day delivery, with free delivery for orders over £50 and free returns via a similarly wide range of pick-up options.

Principle 6: In-store Technologies

Use technologies in-store that enable omni-channel experiences.

Study findings:

  • 50% of retailers offer eReceipts.
  • 33% of retailers have no digital devices or kiosks available in-store to enable omni-channel behavior.
  • Only 28% of retailers use Barcodes / NFC or other technology in-store to allow customers to discover more product details (eg. via the retailer’s app).
  • Free WiFi that is easy to access is only offered by 33% of retailers.

Example of what good looks like:

Decathlon (FR)

Decathlon makes use of in-store technologies to offer a real Omni-Channel Customer Experience.

  • NFC technology used at kiosks and fitting rooms: customers can view product details and reviews, variations, related products and order products online.
  • Free wifi offered in-store and used to promote offers. The Decathlon App can be used in-store to discover product details (via NFC / Barcodes).
  • Products ordered via click-and-collect can be collected quickly from click-and-collect lockers accessible via a pin code.

Principle 7: Omni-Channel Customer Service

Make customer service truly omni-channel.

Study Findings:

  • Only 10% of retailers offer mobile optimised live chat functionality that can provide answers to store-specific questions.
  • 48% of retailers were able to provide a satisfactory answer to a question sent via email about one of their stores within 24h.
  • The phone support of only 26% of retailers was able to quickly provide a satisfactory answer to a question about one of their stores.

Example of what good looks like:

Bever (NL)

Bever is the top ranking retailer in our study of 145 retailers in Europe.

  • Bever offers multiple ways to get in touch, catering to different customer preferences.
  • Live chat is available on all pages of the mobile website to quickly answer customer questions.
  • Bever provides quick and accurate answers to questions about their stores via email, live chat and phone.

Principle 8: Cross-Promotion

Utilise cross-promotion and encourage omni-channel behavior.

Study findings:

  • 67% of retailers do not promote in-store offers or events on their website at all.
  • 70% of retailers do not promote stores, in-store events or in-store offers in their Email newsletters at all.
  • 28% of retailers do not promote their online shop in-store at all.
  • Only 35% of retailers do a great job of signposting where the click-and-collect area is in their store.

Example of what good looks like:

Boulanger (FR)

Boulanger actively promotes online offers, in-store events and special store opening hours in their email newsletter.

  • Email newsletters contain store specific promotions, like new store openings, special opening hours, and in-store events.
  • Store detail pages include news specific to each store and customers can book a consultation meeting in-store.
  • The Boulanger website and store-specific social media channels are actively promoted in-store.

For even the best retailers in Europe, there’s still work to be done improving on some or all of the areas considered by our study. Consumer expectations are constantly evolving, making the perfect cross-channel experience a moving target - but following these principles can help any retailer looking to reduce friction, remove frustrations and make the path to purchase as smooth as possible for their customers.

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