Retail consumers are a different breed than generations before them. Armed with mobile devices and specific ideas about the products they want and the prices they are willing to pay, the overall retail experience has changed. Many consumers conduct a combination of online and in-person shopping simultaneously, looking up prices and features while they browse through store displays. A tailored customer retail customer experience is an interactive one.
One way to look at this is by thinking in terms of “what do customers want?” People are continually drawn into the virtual world via smart phones and tablets. As consumers, this has created a paradigm shift in the way they search for the products and services they need to sustain real life. Shopping has evolved into the pursuit of personalization, based upon an individual’s style, mood, and the occasion. But at the same time, this has enabled brands to open up a more direct and personal dialogue with customers. While technology strives to make things colder, with less contact, those who embrace it can actually use it to become closer to their consumer base – on an intimate level.
There are no hard and steadfast rules about how to accomplish this, because each industry is so different, but there are some ways to create a tailored retail customer experience that works. This three-tiered approach can help create loyal customers who come back again and again to relive the experience.
Mobile-enabled retail connections
According to the most recent Global Mobile Consumer Study from Deloitte, 40% of adults reach for their cell phones within five minutes of waking up each morning. We check our text messages first, then our emails. Throughout the day, the average adult checks their phone 47 times, and we even check it 5 minutes before going to sleep at night. 50% of adults wake up in the middle of the night to check our phones. That’s a lot of phone time.
Companies can harness this activity by sending out highly engaging text messages and emails that target the shopping behavior of consumers. Inviting individuals to ‘participate’ in an exclusive, time-limited sale with a generous coupon code, or to spend a few minutes playing a game to win a free gift can be powerful incentives for some shoppers. This is an example of a first-contact stimulus, which can spur on a complete shopping visit. So too, reminders to finish a shopping experience sent out by text can bring consumers back to make their purchase.
Direct response tools
It’s one thing to engage with consumers online, but there is still plenty of room for direct response campaigns that provide that next level in the experience. When orders are received, they should come with some fun surprises for consumers. Exclusive partner offers, free samples of new products, gift cards and coupon offers – all provide the incentive for shoppers to visit a brick-and-mortar store in the near future.
Heavy direct mail campaigns that make the use of post cards or small catalogues with ‘gift cards’ attached to specific shopping events are very appealing to many shoppers. Loyalty programs that award points that can be used for shopping credits can help drive additional shopping, both online and in a real retail environment. Consumers take the earning of points for gift certificates and advanced earning programs very seriously. Retail credit card offers tied to loyalty programs can be customized to the shopping habits of consumers for even greater impact on their choices. A study from Mailmen.co.uk advises that 66% of consumers are more likely to remember to use a voucher or coupon if they have a physical copy to carry around.
In-house retail experiences
If a retailer has done a good job, consumers will take the next step and visit a retail location in person. This is an opportunity for impressing shoppers with a full-on experience that will introduce them and connect them to the brand. It all starts with the moment that consumers walk through the front door. Interactive television monitors, attractive displays, signage, and products must be in place to greet consumers and start getting data. All of this information is gathered from the shopping habits of consumers, their personal preferences, and their responses to marketing campaigns.
Once within the store, the real magic happens. Consumers are urged to explore the store through activities that inspire them. For example, a rock climbing wall in a sporting goods store that caters to the physically fit consumer who wants to show off his skills. Or the 3D video center that combines energetic music and lights in a high-end electronics store can appeal to the serious gamer. In some stores, a video wall beckons to consumers to view the latest fashion merchandise, mimicking a live fashion show in Los Angeles. Interactive displays with stationary information terminals and touch-screen gift registries that appeal to the five senses of consumers bring them into the experience even deeper.
Even the layout of a shopping space can create an experience for consumers. The path that consumers take as they visit certain areas of the store can be monitored by video, and text messages can be sent to mobile devices to take advantage of their shopping time with an exclusive in-store offer. Virtual greeters can play messages to consumers as they pass by displays, and invite people to answer a brief survey to learn more about their needs. For example, a makeup display equipped with a tablet can ask women about their color preferences to match them the right shade of lipstick.
Putting it together for a complete shopper experience
There are limitless ways to solidify branding and create a shopping experience that appeals to consumers on an emotional level. It takes a keen understanding of shopper habits, needs, and wants to make this happen. Much of this insight comes from the data gathered during mobile shopping visits and searches, which can be tracked over time.
In 2017 and beyond, predictive analytics will be managed by artificial intelligence tools to guide the entire consumer experience. This will help to automate the entire lifecycle of inventory management and delivering products that consumers demand. Learn more about the latest in retail technology and how it may be useful for your brand by visiting Decision Point Systems today. We have agents ready to design a retail solution that honors your customers and helps to increase sales.