3 Ways Retailers Can Unlock New Levels of Customer Engagement in 2023
The beginning of the year is a time of great momentum and in the ever-evolving retail industry, you must always be prepared for what’s coming down the pipeline.
In the past few years, I’ve seen a significant shift in retailers using technology to create more meaningful and personalized engagement strategies to inspire consumers to take action. It’s a shift that will continue to grow even bigger because retailers must be laser focused on providing an ultra personalized experience that delights every customer.
Heading into 2023, I foresee other trends gaining more traction and catapulting some retailers above the rest based on their foresight and innovation-focused strategy. Here’s how you can stay ahead of the curve:
1. Don’t let disparate data sources slow you down.
Data quality will be a major focus for retailers in 2023. At its best, data empowers retailers to move faster, work smarter, and transform how they serve their customers. However, data can also create inconsistencies, redundancies and even confusion. This is often the case with disparate data sources because massive amounts of information come from different data processing systems that don’t speak to one another. Small businesses use 14 apps, on average, and this number only gets bigger for larger enterprises. The more systems you have, the more difficult it is to centralize and make strong data-driven decisions.
Through strong partnerships and innovative technology, many retailers are moving from legacy loyalty providers to customer engagement ecosystems that un-silo growing amounts of customer data. When everything is connected, it creates a frictionless ecosystem that enables all of a retailer's platforms to work in concert so it can do what it does best: provide premier experiences for its customers.
2. Create a frictionless customer experience.
The harder something is, the more people will avoid it. That basic human behavior extends to the type of experience you offer. That’s why it’s imperative to create a frictionless experience at every part of a customer’s journey. Realizing the customer experience will continue trending toward ease, many retailers have changed their tune on automation. While automation used to evoke feelings of dread, many now revere this technology’s ability to create a seamless experience for customers, such as how they conduct payments and earn loyalty points.
Without these tools, customers had to share their phone number or loyalty number with a retailer’s staff to earn points. Now, earning points is as simple as having a customer pay with their credit card. Because their cards link to their personal information, retailers can automatically capture and allocate that information. You no longer have to worry about operational or training gaps to manually collect that information, and your staff can focus on providing a great experience knowing your guest will receive an automatic credit for their purchase. This technology optimizes time, improves accuracy, and delights customers.
3. Flex with what makes you unique.
Customizable customer loyalty programs will become absolutely essential for retailers’ success in 2023. A plug-and-play approach to customer engagement doesn’t allow you to authentically connect with customers. Going forward, the more personalization, the better. Customers crave personalized experiences and a lack thereof may turn them off your brand. Consider the following:
- 80 percent of frequent shoppers only purchase from brands that personalize the experience;
- 63 percent of consumers say they’ll stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics; and
- 66 percent of consumers say receiving non-personalized content would stop them from making a purchase.
The right customer engagement ecosystem replaces rigid point-based programs and unlocks levels of personalized engagement. Through this flexible approach, retailers can enjoy significant increases in customer frequency, spend and brand affinity.
As for a tech partner to get you there, the best way to accelerate meaningful digital innovation for retailers is for them to stay laser focused on their core competencies and innovate in their swim lane. Oftentimes, tech partners flounder because they’re going too far outside of their niche. I’ve seen all-in-one generalists realize the ill effects of their shotgun approach to technology, such as the inability to partner with large enterprise brands that look to these partners to be SMEs in specific areas. Leaning into where you excel doesn’t equate to being stagnant. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
This year is a big one for retailers. Facing intense competition, a shaky economy, and rising customer expectations, success hinges on your ability to innovate and evolve. Get excited about taking new steps and unlocking new levels of engagement. It’s your key to a brighter 2023 and beyond.
Catherine Tabor is the founder and CEO of Sparkfly, a retail technology solutions company that helps merchants unify customer engagement technologies to create deeper and more meaningful
connections with customers.
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A technology pioneer and digital visionary, Catherine is a seasoned entrepreneur who has founded and scaled several businesses over the last 20 years.
Her entrepreneurial career kicked off while in school at Georgia State University, where she started a house sitting and dog walking business. To her surprise, Coca-Cola found her business and invited her to bid on an RFP to manage their employee discount program. She won the business, left school, built her first website and started calling on other companies. Under Catherine’s leadership, the business successfully grew to serve more than 1 million employees at 150+ companies.
Sparkfly evolved after Catherine began investigating options for tracking digital benefits against employee usage. Unable to find suitable technology to do so, she saw the gap in the market and acquired a company for the technology that would become the foundation of the current Sparkfly (spinning off the original company as Sparkfly Perks).
Catherine and her team were one of the first to develop connectivity between media and the point of sale and invented two issued patents related to tracking mobile media and store loyalty. She believes that mobile offers can be the unifying force between mobile media and the point of sale, and was named one of Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Women to Watch.
Leveraging this new groundbreaking technology, Sparkfly continues to grow and develop innovative technology to solve real business problems and create real results for its clients.
Catherine also served as the chair of the marketing committee on the Woodruff Arts Center board of directors, and is currently a member of the Board of Visitors at The University of Georgia.
She enjoys spending time with her husband Matt and their 12-year-old daughter at their home in Atlanta, GA.