How to Improve Customer Convenience in the New Economy

Time and money have always been directly correlated, and for the last several years, consumers have been short on both. Even though we’ve made quite a comeback from the dark days of the economic collapse in late 2008, the Great Recession is still fresh on everyone’s mind.

As a reaction to the substandard economy that wrapped up the first decade of the new millennium, buyers have become obsessed with finding unsurpassed value, with competitive sellers bending over backward to come up with new ways to draw in potential customers. Bottom-line pricing, impeccable service, and personalized experiences have all become crucial to staying competitive in the postrecession marketplace, but another customer demand has risen through the ranks, forcing companies to rethink the way they market their products and services.

That demand can be summed up in a single word: convenience.

Consumers crave it, yet some companies have found themselves reluctant to truly cater to convenience. That’s because providing convenience—like any other modification to a company’s business model—takes exactly what companies in the new economy are trying to save their customers: time and money.

In a survey conducted by ResearchNow for Adobe, 76 percent of marketers believe marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the previous 50. What this means is that regardless of the education, background, and years of experience marketers have under their belts, keeping up with today’s data-driven trends isn’t something taught in school. We’re all learning as we go.

Today’s marketers rely on these very trends to successfully engage their respective target audiences, and convenience is one of those trends. That’s why starting with an emphasis on convenience may be the best way to differentiate your company from the multitude of ever-changing competitors.

The Convenience Factor

The positive results that go hand-in-hand with providing customers unsurpassed convenience simply can’t be ignored. According to the Adobe Digital Index (ADI), conversion rates afforded by today’s smartphones skyrocket when retailers offer their customers digital wallet payment options, as opposed to limiting them to credit and debit card transactions. The study indicates that consumers reward convenience. And why wouldn’t they? Giving people more purchasing options by accepting payments through their smartphones is the kind of convenience they embrace—especially those who tend to leave their wallets at home.

The numbers also shed light on just how important a focus on convenience can be to any new product release. According to ADI, 23 percent of mobile purchases used alternate payment methods, such as digital wallet payment options, while 19 percent went to tablet users, leaving 16 percent of alternate payment methods stemming from desktop use. These numbers reveal a few important consumer trends, primarily the fact that consumers would rather use a simple payment method through their smartphones, rather than enter credit card information while out and about.

The ADI study also shows that online retailers may benefit from the convenience of broadening online payment options by giving consumers a more secure way to purchase products online. According to Tyler White, an analyst at ADI, “People are also more wary of entering their credit card information on mobile devices.” Not surprising that despite the valiant efforts of companies to assure consumers of secure transaction sites, a certain anxiety still churns the stomachs of consumers punching in credit card numbers online.

Applying Convenience to Your Business Model

By now you may be thinking, “Sure, catering to convenience may work for groundbreaking tech companies, but how can it help my brand?” After all, if you’re managing a tightknit operation with little budgetary room for innovative thinking, then running a campaign of convenience may be the last thing on your business’s to-do list. Luckily, there are effective ways to address the convenience factor that aren’t limited to groundbreaking innovations.

One such tactic is to improve efficiency by helping your customers find exactly what they’re looking for, whether when navigating your e-commerce website or while perusing your store. We already know how fickle today’s consumers can be, and when we don’t supply our target market with exactly what they want when they want it, we risk losing potential customers to the competition.

Wawa, for example, is a great role model for businesses interested in improving customer engagement, personalization, and convenience. The popular gas station chain based in Philadelphia rakes in over $9 billion in annual sales from just 625 stores spread across six states. They accomplish this by providing their customers exactly what they want in a convenient, simple manner that’s tailored to customer needs.

Not only does Wawa set itself apart from competing convenience stores by offering customers freshly prepared menu items, such as fresh deli entrees, hoagie sandwiches, soups, and salads, they also make it a point to get customers in and out of their stores quickly. One of the ways they’ve helped make their stores more convenient is by using deli counter touchscreen menus that allow customers to place and customize their own orders. This process not only minimizes order mistakes and discrepancies, but it also allows Wawa employees to focus on creating a welcoming environment for customers instead of spending customer interaction time worrying about order accuracy and logistics.

With a dismal economy far behind us for the foreseeable future (we hope), building a brand that prioritizes customer convenience is sure to be what differentiates postrecession players from companies that believe their brands are doing just fine with older business models. When looking for ways to improve your customers’ experience with your brand, it’s perfectly natural to consider big innovations that could lead your business well into the 21st Century. But focusing on convenience roadblocks that can be addressed and fixed expediently is a smart way to save your business money while creating great experiences for customers you’re engaging with right now.

Of course, if you’re having trouble figuring out what would give your customers a more convenient experience, you could always just ask.