Experiential marketing has been around for a long time and for good reason! It allows a consumer to interact with a brand, product or retailer in a unique experience with the intent to drive them to purchase the product/brand online or at a retailer in the future. For many consumers, shopping is all about the experience which plays a strong role in the continued and future existence of brick-and-mortar stores. Because we are human beings, emotions play a very large role in the shopping journey; from being able to select and touch something to the experience of connecting with the product and/or store as well as the associate who is trained and knowledgeable to satisfy our needs.
As all of us marketers know, content is everything! To increase engagement in a shopper’s journey, leading retailers are using content across many channels. They recognize that the consumer wants to be informed as well as entertained as they search for information about products/brands and make purchase decisions. But one cannot just think of content in relation to web-only, it extends much further than that. This year retailers will need to find different ways to set them apart from competitors as well as online when providing a unique shopping experience for their customers. By testing and sampling new ways to engage with customers along the shopper’s journey, retailers can stay relevant within the industry. Meaningful, personalized and informative content that can exist across all channels will be a primary focus for top retail marketers this year and will aim at attracting customers to the store, providing an exceptional guest experience and driving more purchases.
In-store engagement will be just as important if not the most important component as the omnichannel world sets in. Shoppers are going to continue to demand even more from actual stores in this coming year and in response stores will need to make sure they provide a multitude of things:
- In-store technology
- Product & Digital displays
- Augmented Reality
- Good layouts/Easy navigation
- Technology enabled & knowledgeable sales associates
The Digital Essentials, Part 3
Developing a robust digital strategy is both a challenge and an opportunity. Part 3 of the Digital Essentials guide series explores five of the essential technology-driven experiences customers expect, which you may be missing or not fully utilizing.
Retailers need to think about the shopping journey as a whole which means that the experience can begin online which then drives the consumer to the store to select, touch, or experience the product and then end with the purchase online.
40% of retailers believe bringing “more of a digital/online experience to stores” is a top opportunity for improving the in-store experience (Retail Systems Research, 2014)
Retailers will need to continue to invest in their stores (designs and experiences) to help deliver exception customer experiences. And different stores will require different experiences depending on the types of consumers that shop in those stores. If a consumer in interested in a technology devices, they will want to be able to experience interacting with the products. A fashion consumer will want an experience that includes virtual fitting rooms or augmented reality technology.
Face to Face interaction – We cannot think of face-to-face interaction as physically being in front of someone anymore. With digital and mobile technologies, human interface and customer services across channels has changed and it will continue to do so in the next decade. Online chats will start to look like skype-type conversations but will be aligned with customers that are matched by their individual wants, needs and behaviors.
Customer service has always been pertinent to a successful customer experience and today there are an ever increasing number stores providing a personal concierge service to engage with their shoppers. Many consumers are willing to share their personal data in exchange for better service, convenience, personalized messaging and more. Retailers are able to utilize this information to provide a higher quality of customer service. An in-store engagement is one of the reasons why shoppers opt for stores provided it can be a much more compelling experience. More and more we start to see sales associates with technology devices that give them all the information they need at their fingertips. Associates are now enabled to play a more collaborative role in the customer’s shopping journey. With digital enablement, they are able to serve as a consultant, cashier, product/store expert all in one!
To provide an exceptional experience, retailers need to equip their associates with the necessary information that customers are going to expect they will know:
- Inventory availability in-store and online
- Product Knowledge and specifications
- Consumer reviews
- Customer purchase history
- Promotions & incentives (specific to the individual customer)
Allowing the associate to be mobile and engage with a shopper at every single point of an in-store experience will only help to reinforce brand loyalty and most likely increase the amount of items they plan to purchase.
Who doesn’t love convenience?!? And let’s face it, as a society, we have moved past the “demand” stage – we want to be able to shop when we want, wherever we want, in-store, online or on multiple devices. Retailers and brands are adapting their strategies and business models to tailor to our needs and demands and the winners in 2015 will be connecting these dots to make channel and device hopping the status quo. We can already see how many companies are shifting to be flexible, convenient and keep the consumer engaged at all stages of their journey:
- Amazon creating brick-and-mortar stores
- Smaller version stores
- Click and collect
- Mobile Payment
Providing convenience and information in the shoppers journey will be a very strong way to build brand loyalty, avoid losing sales and keep customers satisfied at every point in the path to purchase.
Customization & Personalization
78% of consumer would buy from a retailer more frequently if they received offerstailored to their interests (Infosys)
The old personalization foundations are built on historical trends and very simple preferences. In today’s world, a new breed is utilizing hundreds of triggers and thousands of data points to create a very hyper-personalized recommendation for individual consumers. As mentioned before and with consumers increased demands and high expectations, they are willing to sacrifice personal information including contact information, preferences, behaviors and buying habits to brands and retailers. To respond to these demands and needs, retailers and brands are creating promotions, offerings, and messaging that are personalized and unique to the individuality of their customers. Fifty-six percent of retailers are working towards cross channel personalization; these leading retailers are investing in recognizing, knowing and understanding their shoppers across every channel, demographics, market, etc. to provide the customized, personalized and individualized content through each one. Effective strategies must vary the mix and frequency of content, balancing what’s useful against what will be dismissed. The real value of these notifications is in their personalization and relevance to the consumer, focusing on specific needs at specific times.