Retail marketing slowed to a virtual crawl last year as analysts everywhere predicted the fall and death of the entire retail industry. There were many casualties, and even the oldest and most established retail brands were not immune. Victims had slowly begun to disappear from the site the year before the corporate giants felt the pinch.
Despite all the whispers and conundrum that followed, retail isn’t going anywhere. However, the retail shift into the digital marketplace was witnessed but misinterpreted. It doesn’t take a top executive or a press release to understand what is driving this transformation: consumer expectations and behaviors mainly influenced by the convenience of mobile purchasing and the ease of online transactions where a box full of requested items shows up on the doorstep. An armful of shopping bags and a day at the mall while overpaying for brand-name items isn’t appealing to maturing millennials.
The retail landscape is evolving, and rightly so. Customer loyalty goes about as far as the next big sale. Retailers need not lose all hope, but they are going to have to step it up a notch if they want to survive. Although many have dubbed this era the retail apocalypse, some retailers are well-positioned to thrive in the undertones. Here are a few significant advantages that retailers can use to build a more compelling and individualized experience for customers who haven’t yet left or who may be new.
• Love of the Brand — Some customers have history with a brand that has cultivated meaning. Consumers know the brand, and they love identifying with it because they are getting meaningful engagement somehow and somewhere along the line.
• Pricing Trust — Retailers are in a game where the lowest price often wins, and this is usually true. However, commodity products pull consumers to the source.
• Customer Interaction — It is always best for a business to know their customers. Staff should engage on websites, social channels and at the point of sale. Creating a truly meaningful experience is essential. Do this and people will come back because this is what they crave.
• On-sight Experience Worth Remembering — A transformative store experience is a big deal, and it will earn big points in the form of repeat traffic. As the retail landscape evolves, it is essential to start bridging the gap between online and offline attributions. Intelligent amplified marketing will help bridge this gap.
For those who expect to survive in the retail space, long-term relationships are a must. The foundation of future growth depends on it. Companies have spent millions of dollars capturing data only to struggle with the delivery of unified customer experience. They have missed the mark on accurate personalization because there are a few common pitfalls they just can’t seem to get around. Here are a few tips for delivering relevant and meaningful customer experiences.
1. Unified customer experience is the end goal. No matter what you call it, cross-channel integration is here, and customers expect unity. Consumers want to engage with a single unified brand, not a series of touchpoints. Engagement should be cohesive, from the email to social media to the physical store. The digital experience and the brick and mortar experience need to be synced, like information on a phone. The entire customer journey from first engagement on, should be mapped out and optimized.
2. A little empathy goes a long way. Customers are individuals, not numbers, and automated campaigns cannot recognize this. The fundamental value of customer retention stands on a long-term relationship. To establish a lasting connection, you must think beyond the next click and optimize for customer lifetime value. Use a tacked intelligent marketing framework with automatic identification and mobility. It will help identify at-risk customers before they abandon their cart and intervene early.
3. Adapt and overcome. There are thousands of contextual data points which can be optimized to execute cross-channel action. Cross-channel performance means that every avenue needs to be in synch. Move away from the automated rules-based decisions that typically end up delivering the wrong message or excluding a large part of the customer base. Recommendation engines cannot optimize customer lifetime value.
The retailers who are using automatic identification and mobility (AIM) technologies can anticipate a customer’s needs and take action. The core of these marketing efforts depends on the customer’s cross-channel data footprint. Artificial intelligence in marketing gives companies the competitive advantage they need. Finally, short-term metrics are not the end feed; marketers can optimize for the entire customer relationship, which is critical. Repeat purchases and deep brand loyalty stem from the customer relationship, not click-thru rates and linear purchase conversions. The retailers who can create a lasting customer relationship across the channels will make the cut this year.