Mind (and Mend) the Gaps in Your Retail Business
My local gym is always running some kind of crazy discount for enrollment. And I can always look at this month's (or week's) promotion and blow it off, knowing another deal is coming. It's hard to know, from a price-conscious standpoint, the best time to make a long-term commitment because the gym is constantly repackaging the same discount, or even outbidding itself for my business.
In a similar instance, I bought concert tickets with a loyalty-based "early bird" discount, only to find out that a deeper discount was advertised to the general public just a month later. Really?
I recently discussed the premise of "minding the gap," with suggestions on how companies can foresee, avoid and remedy breakdowns in their interactions with consumers. I've also explored automation fails, a cautionary tale for marketers who don't look before they leap. And we get it: With ever-increasing platforms to manage, marketers are challenged to reach constantly evolving personas that differ from brand to brand and even from product to product.
Consumers might purchase household appliances completely online but insist on "kicking the tires" in a sporting goods store (after going online for research, reviews and price comparisons, of course), then spend two hours in-store with a doting salesperson to buy a pair of jeans. Consumers can buy, send and redeem coupons and gift certificates online (or on their phones), so even gifting patterns are changing. No matter their schedule, the circumstances or their preferences for interaction during a specific transaction, consumers have options.
Since consumer interaction is so varied, however, the margin for error (i.e., gaps) is on the rise. Consumers are hip to inconsistencies between marketing and sales, between sales and customer service, between in-store and online promotions. These gaps can feel like a bait-and-switch, and in the social age customers are quick to tell everyone they know (or don't) about that experience.
Retailers need to step up with an advanced level of cross-channel cohesion and optimization in order to navigate and connect with the many personas each consumer embodies.
Michael Caccavale is the CEO of Pluris Marketing, a marketing optimization and strategy firm.