Q&A: How services, warranties bring the retail customer journey full circle
This post is sponsored by Cover Genius.
The customer journey gets a lot of attention in today’s retail environment up until the point of purchase -- but what happens beyond the buy? While selling products to consumers is vital to retail success, getting them to come back and engage with you after they've bought is just as important.
Peter Paine, head of retail partnerships for the Americas at insurance technology firm Cover Genius, sat down to talk about the importance of finding ways to use service offerings to take customer relationships beyond purchases, and how services, insurance and warranties complete the customer journey to bring it full circle:
Can you talk about the importance of services, insurance and warranties and where they fit into today's retail ecosystem?
Consumers today don't simply want to buy their shampoo, TV, furniture, etc., from trusted retail brands, they also want to find service solutions that meet their other needs. As a result, retailers are asking how they can continuously modernize their offerings to fit their customers' changing shopping habits.
The truth is, people aren't buying as many physical products anymore because ultimately, they want to own less stuff. The smartest retailers are becoming a destination for customers beyond the physical products they sell. So, ask yourself: What additional solutions can you offer to your customers? Services are a big part of the puzzle, as they have the potential to build basket size and drive frequency to your site. For instance, protection services such as insurance and product warranties would be top-of-mind for customers while they're purchasing dog food (pet insurance) or a TV (extended warranty).
Retailers have to broaden their offerings beyond physical goods in order to become a single destination where customers will open their wallets. Offering shoppers the services they need at the right time, at the right place (i.e. check out) and at the right price will increase loyalty and engagement.
How do services and warranties play into the customer journey?
Services and warranties make the customer journey easier because shoppers don't have to go somewhere else to find a service solution for the TV or sofa they just purchased from their favorite retail brand. Having product warranty offers integrated into the purchase journey gives customers the simple option of adding them to their carts from the trusted retail brands they already shop with. Think about it -- in general, customers don't even know where to turn to get this type of coverage. Retailers can make it easier by incorporating the coverage into the purchase journey, offering shoppers a complementary product or service that will make their lives easier, all while giving them peace of mind. Importantly, the add-ons should be an integrated experience in the buying journey that require as few clicks as possible.
What about customer loyalty? As this can be a hurdle in today's consumer environment, how do things like services, insurance and warranties help retailers clear this hurdle?
Today's consumers are ready to move on in a split second, which has made it increasingly difficult for retailers to capture loyalty and engagement. This quick-to-ditch mindset means that shoppers expect to find what they are looking for at their favorite brands' stores, and if they don't, they simply move on to the next brand. Retailers need to be a step ahead and come up with service offerings that their shoppers don't even know they want or need, thus providing them with a holistic experience where they end up with more than they expected. This holistic experience can win shopper loyalty in the end.
A good first step to achieve this would be to understand what the most valuable items are for your shoppers -- for example, a mobile phone or a sofa. Why not offer them protection in the event something happens to those items? If you introduce a simple warranty plan into the purchase journey for those items, you're taking a big step toward customer engagement and loyalty. The next milestone comes when shoppers actually need to submit a claim on a warranty. If your insurance technology partner can then provide a hassle-free claims experience and instant claims payment, you can check that loyalty box once more.
Why is it so important for retailers to employ strategies that both bring new customers in and foster relationships with customers who have already purchased with them? Why should retailers consider services, insurance and warranties when planning out these strategies?
Customer lifetime value, or CLV, is a metric that retailers are tracking more and more, and it's about building that deeper relationship with existing customers so they become customers for life. By broadening the scope of what they sell to their customers, retailers are ensuring they get a bigger share of their wallets by giving those customers a reason to come back. I would recommend that retailers seek a partner that has the tech capability to offer their customers personalized solutions, since we know that's what customers expect, even when it comes to services and solutions. Today's insurance tech providers have the tools and knowledge to offer tailored insurance to each customer based on data. If customers can get the right coverage that fits their needs from their favorite brands, it's an incredible opportunity to foster long-term relationships with happy customers.
Peter Paine is head of retail partnerships, Americas, at Cover Genius, one of the fastest-growing insurtechs globally. In his role, Paine is responsible for leading and executing partnerships for some of the biggest retail brands in the Americas, while delivering best-in-class user experience. Cover Genius has received dozens of awards within insurance and technology circles for its patent-pending platform and global capability that ensures user-centricity throughout the entire customer journey, an approach that has led to global partnerships with Booking Holdings, among others. Before Cover Genius, Paine led the product warranty and financial services team at eBay US. Prior to that, he spent five years at Walmart.com as the head of product care plan business. Paine has an MBA from Penn State and a BA from Indiana University.