Customer expectations and behaviours have shifted dramatically over the past decade. There was a time when just having items available and in stock was a luxury. Today, that is simply not the case. As consumers, our options are astounding. If we are to use anything other than Amazon, there has to be a very specific reason for it. Retailers who are up and coming need to be creating such dramatically enjoyable customer experiences, that shopping on their website or in their store becomes a regular habit in our lives - a habit that we truly want.
Providing well-crafted layouts, or a simple checkout experience used to be enough, but now the reasons why some customers connect with the brand, and some don’t, are much more complex. Marketing directors are pouring over data. They need a clear picture of each customer, in order to truly understand which customers are best aligned with their brand, which customers are going to purchase more in the future, and which customers are going to evangelise their store and bring them even more consumers. They need to know which consumers are coming back regularly, why, and how to get more of them.
Previously, retail marketing was a role that was compartmentalised. There was a marketing function in the company – either internally, or in the digital world possibly even outsourced. They were given a budget, and a revenue target, and then they experimented with various channels to see what worked. But now, marketing has moved on. A broad approach which hits revenue targets will not give the retailer either the agility to adapt to constantly changing desires, or the ability to increase the overall profitability of each customer by truly giving them what they want.
Marketing to a consumer now requires a complete understanding of everywhere that consumer has shopped – whether online or offline. It requires a complete understanding of what they have purchased, and what they have looked at but decided not to buy. Customer acquisition has to be focused on those channels which drive the most profitable customers – those with the highest future lifetime value. Customer retention strategies need to include only that information which is most relevant to each individual.
If the average worker currently spends an average of three hours dealing with e-mail every day, they certainly don’t have time to be trying to decipher a message which doesn’t immediately appeal to them, in the hope that it contains something interesting. And e-mail is a medium that is fast becoming outdated. With the development of new technologies like Bluetooth beacons, the quiver of omnichannel marketer gains a new arrow. Whereas the trend of the past few years has been to try and collect information about offline customers so that they can be marketed to through e-mail, the trend now is to do the reverse. Marketing to individuals while they traverse the offline world, using all the information you have about them, is an even stronger opportunity to show them products they truly want, at a time when they are interested in buying them.
And all of this is predicated on one core requirement. A complete understanding of each individual consumer. Since there is no possible way of doing this manually, we need technology. And that technology exists – right now. Are you using it?
I’ll be giving a talk on this subject, and elaborating how exactly that technology can be used by retail marketers to improve their customer acquisition, engagement, retention and profitability, at the Eccomplished Retail Innovation Theatre at the Retail Technology Business Expo on the 11th March 2014. Hope to see you there.