Retailers (or any marketer or publisher) seeking higher conversion rates must adopt an “innovation attitude” to guide them amid a fertile landscape for new ideas, advanced technology and customer behavior learnings. So advised speaker after speaker at last week's Shop.org Merchandise Summit in Huntington Beach, Calif.
It’s clear there's a pressing need to optimize the use of both new and old technologies to create compelling customer experiences, especially in today’s socially connected marketplace. It’s a marketplace that rewards rapid change and adoption of new channels. Consumers and business professionals research online — usually not on their own websites — and come armed with opinions, preferences and, perhaps most importantly, options. They want to do business across multiple channels, and even on the go.
Chris McCann, president of 1-800-Flowers.com, advises retailers to expand to new channels in order to “fish where the fish are.” For 1-800-Flowers.com, those waters include Facebook, mobile, email, the web and yes, even brick-and-mortar stores. Known for its innovation, 1-800-Flowers.com completed the first transaction via Facebook, and has since updated its store. It also sells via a mobile site, with limited SKUs and a log-in to access address book and payment options.
While every channel opens up the need for new technology, new data integration and new ways to optimize customer experiences, the approach is always the same. In his opening keynote presentation, McCann said, “Build relationships first, do business second. Connecting with customers is basic and central to success — no matter what the channel.”
No marketer focused on customer satisfaction would disagree. However, it can be overwhelming to consider the myriad of technologies, platforms and social networks. In fact, the theme of the entire conference was “harmony” between balancing the need to optimize current assets and investing in new technologies.
“It's like walking a tightrope,” said Shop.org's Director of Content Larry Joseloff. “On one side, I must embrace new tools. But on the other hand, I have an opportunity to optimize what I already have in place. How do I choose?”