3 Ways Retailers Can Acquire and Retain Hyperadoptive Customers During (and After) the Pandemic
Consumers willingness to adopt new products and try new experiences hasn’t merely increased; it’s reached an entirely new level of hyperadoption that retail brands are claiming they can’t keep up with.
With consumers just as quick to try new brands as they are to walk away from ones they were once loyal to, retailers are now forced to tackle customer acquisition and retention both simultaneously and aggressively.
Now, with the added pressure of the coronavirus shuttering brick-and-mortar stores, consumer activity online is growing at an even higher rate. This presents an opportunity for retailers to capture new shoppers they’ve never met, while simultaneously engaging existing customers.
The lessons taught by coronavirus will be applicable not only as brands power through this crisis, but also looking ahead to a post-pandemic world. Leveraging first-party insights is crucial to create personalized experiences for existing and new customers alike. Despite the need for immediate capital, brands need to pivot from overindexing on acquisition to focusing on how they can build loyalty and retention.
Considering that in the U.S. 14 percent of all retail sales take place online in normal times, brands already have a wealth of information about shoppers’ digital activity. During the weeks — and maybe even months — of social distancing ahead of us, not only will e-commerce sales increase (retail brands like Nike are reporting increases of up to 36 percent in digital sales), so too will first-party data.
The bad news is that most brands aren’t set up operationally to harness this data and use it to improve experiences and drive customer value.
According to new research released by Bluecore and Forrester Consulting, Align Technology, Data, And Your Organization To Deliver Customer Value, there are three unexpected and pressing priorities for brands that want to capitalize on this influx of new e-commerce shoppers and retain current customers.
1. Get set up to understand what shoppers want.
It’s not that retailers don’t want to put customers first, it’s that they struggle to deliver personalized experiences to individuals across channels and touchpoints. In fact, marketers are now more focused on customer experience than ever. When asked to rank their three top marketing priorities for 2020, 39 percent of respondents cited “customer experience,” second only to “winning new customers” at 45 percent.
A not-so-glamorous part of achieving this that isn’t always addressed is for retailers to clean, process, align, share and turn all of their data into actionable insights. Only 13 percent of retail executives are very confident in their organization's data hygiene and reconciliation capabilities, while just 16 percent believe they excel at data aggregation. It’s impossible to offer relevant and personalized experiences if brands can’t understand what their customers' engagement and shopping behaviors are saying.
Consider the experience of shoppers amidst coronavirus: they’re likely searching for hyperspecific items, such as loungewear or desks for the optimal work-from-home setup. If brands fail to deliver a personalized experience in line with shoppers’ needs during this time, they’ll immediately lose sales to competitors that are more accurately and effectively leveraging behavior data to speak to the same shoppers.
2. Regularly evaluate technology partners and the technology itself.
More is not always — or even usually — better when it comes to marketing technology solutions and partners. Retailers are battling data fragmentation due in large part to their massive technology stacks. As data sources multiply, the complexity to manage data grows. For instance, retailers look to email service providers (ESPs) and campaign management software for A/B testing of email content, products and offers. Meanwhile, campaign optimization is housed in data management platforms, and identity resolution across customer data platforms (CDPs) or customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Not only is this highly confusing and unnecessarily complicated, odds are these technologies aren't directly speaking to one another. This prevents brands from building holistic views of their customers and their journeys.
Brands need to evaluate the technology partners they’re working with to ensure they’re providing modern solutions that address the ongoing evolution of data, as it gets bigger, faster and more complex. Therefore, brands should consider the following:
- Will this technology allow us to observe and identify not only important shopper behaviors, but also the availability of the products that are relevant to every single one of them in real time?
- Will it help us make intelligent decisions based on specific business goals, such as preserving margins or increasing email revenue?
- Can my team execute through the technology directly or do its core capabilities require using a service team that comes with a high price tag?
3. Align on philosophy and remove process bottlenecks.
Process roadblocks and organizational misalignment are just as important to address as technology.
While our industry has been talking about the need to be able to access and act on real-time insights for ages, only 10 percent of marketers report actually having access to real-time data. In fact, more than one-third of respondents (36 percent) have to wait up to a week or more for campaign or audience data. This is explained, in part, by the fact that two-thirds of IT respondents claim they can only reasonably allocate a maximum of 10 hours to these projects. In times of crises, such as currently, retailers’ ability to act quickly can truly make or break the entire business’s bottom line.
Marketers should have the ability to act on the insights themselves, without input from IT. This involves technology implementation and allowing both marketers and IT actionable access to the data.
Retail brands need to recognize that it’s not only data and technology that need to work together. Marketing and IT infrastructures need to evolve to work together too in order to address the evolving needs of the hyperadoptive consumer.
Sherene Hilal is the senior vice president of product marketing and business operations at Bluecore, the personalization solution of choice for the world's fastest growing retailers.
Sherene Hilal is the Chief Product Officer at Bluecore, the personalization solution of choice for the world's fastest growing retailers. Hilal most recently served as Bluecore’s SVP of Product Marketing & Business Operations.
Hilal joined Bluecore in 2018 from Oracle Data Cloud. Now, as Chief Product Officer, she is leading Bluecore’s transformation from product suite to shopper-first platform. Hilal is building Bluecore's performance-driven approach to DTC retail growth directly into the platform by putting first-party shopper and product data at the core.
Previously, Sherene was the vice president of product marketing at Curalate, a content intelligence platform that makes images shoppable. Prior to Curalate, she served as the senior director of outbound product management for BlueKai (and later Oracle, following the company’s acquisition), where she defined and developed the “Data as a Service” category. Sherene holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Math and Systems from Columbia University and a B.S. in Applied Math from Cornell University.