“I LOVE this shop,” my wife said when she came across a new dress shop in our local town.
Love is a strong word, but that's exactly what retailers are trying to inspire in customers when they endeavor to build an emotional connection with them.
The Harvard Business Review says that customers are emotionally connected with a brand when it “aligns with their motivations and helps them fulfill deep, often unconscious, desires.”
My wife’s emotional response was based on her seeing the assortment of dresses in the shop window. But what if she goes in to buy and there are none in her size? Or what if they're made of cheap material? Or the shop assistants are too busy checking Facebook to help her find something she wants. Or what if she attempts to buy online and delivery is delayed? Her “love” of the shop would clearly not flourish.
However, if she can trust the quality and availability of the goods and has a positive experience with an assistant in-store, she is likely to form a relationship with this shop.
No emotional relationship can exist without trust. If you cannot trust your local grocery store to have fresh meat, you won't buy it there. If your online retailer cannot deliver your desired item quickly, you'll go elsewhere.
Putting the emotion into retail requires building that trust. Retailers can no longer compete solely on price; everyone offers low prices these days. Having an online presence and offering free/cheap, fast delivery is also no longer a differentiator. So how do you get the emotional message across?
If a customer feels an emotional connection with a product or brand, there's evidence they will drive gains of between 30 percent and 100 percent in customer value, according to Chief Executive Magazine.
Emotion is a powerful thing and emotional bonding with your brand is a key differentiator — it can make or break a company. As consumers increasingly eschew advertising, it becomes more difficult to establish that connection.
Advertising is less and less likely to reach your target audience, as it can be easily avoided by paying an additional price. As Scott Galloway, professor of marketing and brand strategy at the NYU Stern School of Business, put it, "advertising is becoming a tax only poor people pay."
A powerful brand evokes strong emotions. Think of Apple, with its “playroom” style stores where every fan (and potential fan) can happily interact with Apple’s “toys.”
Amazon.com garners trust by offering a staggering array of products, free shipping for its fans — i.e., Prime members — and an excellent return policy. John Lewis evokes an image of a safe, reliable and yet fashionable place to buy everything from sofas to clothes.
Since an emotional relationship is built on trust, delivering on your retail promises is an important part of establishing that trust. It can be done by making sure you have a single view of your customer’s journey in order to offer reliable service. Inventory visibility is one of the most critical elements to success in the competitive retail world today.
The brand promise can only be achieved by using the right technology: robust connectivity, clear and streamlined processes, and reliable process orchestration that automatically deals with things like orders, returns and recommendations, thus allowing a retailer to scale.
Enterprise retailers need to be able to compete with that small dress shop that offers great products at good prices and fantastic one-to-one customer service. Scaling this kind of winning combination — and putting the emotion into your brand — can only be done through technology.
Oliver Guy is global industry director, retail, at Software AG, a digital business platform provider.
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Oliver Guy is the global industry director, retail at Software AG, specializing in retail digital transformation and omnichannel technology strategy.
Oliver advises retailers across the globe on their technology strategy and decisions. With more than 20 years focused in technology, Oliver has worked with major names in global retail helping them improve their business through the use of innovative technology. Prior to joining Software AG, Oliver was part of the European Management team at Oracle Retail, his team being responsible for Retail focused Solution Consulting across Europe. Oliver started his career in technology implementing Supply Chain Planning and Optimisation solutions for customers across multiple industries in both Europe and Asia Pacific with Manugistics (JDA).