There's no denying the massive shifts in the retail industry, but are retailers actually "retail revolution ready" to successfully engage with their customers? And no, “hello, welcome to the store” doesn't count!
Retail, like most industries, is undergoing a transformation. The shopping experience is no longer a linear one, where a customer enters a store, makes a purchase and leaves. It's cyclical. Retailers need to be aware of these changes and adopt personalization strategies to keep up with the way customers want to be treated.
It’s easy to create successful customer engagement strategies if you have the right customer data in place. Retailers oftentimes get distracted by the next trending topic or gimmick, but the best ones are those that have the basic foundations locked down. In the retail world, there’s often two types of retailers: those that have data and don’t successfully use it, and those that have absolutely no data in place at all. Businesses that capture customer data, have engagement strategies in place and sustainable customer loyalty are rare to find — but not impossible to achieve.
The retail industry is more dynamic than ever, from Amazon.com growing its brick-and-mortar presence to Target teaming up with Pinterest to offer visual search tools as part of its shopping experience. With almost 4 million retail establishments in the U.S. alone, there’s one thing retailers have in common — they all must evolve their customer strategies to succeed in the next decade or run the risk of falling behind.
A recent study of retail decision makers issued by Velocity Worldwide and Sapio Research found that while 30 percent of retailers struggle to maintain customer loyalty, 53 percent wait for customers to walk into or check out of the store before even engaging with them — that’s more than half of retailers that are missing prime engagement opportunities! Retailers have to understand the customer journey is a circular one. This means communication shouldn’t be isolated to one part of the journey or sale. Customer engagement needs to occur at every single touchpoint, pre-store, in-store and post-store.
We live in a 24/7 connected world, where real-time feedback, interactions and even instant coupons are expected. It’s shocking that only 35 percent of retailers analyze their data in real time. Many don’t even recognize this is a problem, and those retailers end up completely missing out when they don’t instantly act on their data insights. Not only does it improve overall customer experience, but it can help boost instant conversions and engagement. One of retailers’ biggest advantages is the ability to use their existing technologies in-store to capture valuable customer data to personalize the shopping experience.
So how do retailers make data actionable? They have to start using the actual data to build customer loyalty. Retailers need to shift focus to the most actionable customer data such as purchase history, shopping habits and customer feedback. Capturing and activating this type of data — at all stages of the shopper journey — is the key to a personalized, ongoing customer journey. After all, shopping and purchasing is cyclical, so why isn’t retailers’ data?
Enda McShane is the CEO of Velocity Worldwide, a creative marketing and personalization technology provider.
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