The Road to Amazon-Style Brand Loyalty Isn't as Long as You May Think
In our increasingly on-the-go, mobile world, consumers want convenience and they’ll give their loyalty to brands that provide it. However, big brands like Amazon.com have had the edge when it comes to providing an exceptional customer experience. Until now. The future of retail doesn’t have to be wrapped up in the same old box from the same handful of e-commerce sites that deliver to just about every front porch and mailbox. In this new era of digital transformation, easy-to-implement, agile technology is more accessible and affordable than ever for retailers of all sizes, enabling them to provide the on-demand customer experiences customers increasingly expect.
Case-in-point, SuitSupply, a retailer that helps men, and now women, find their perfect fit in tailored fashion by incorporating tailored technology into the customer experience. It starts with the Fit Finder app, where customers are guided as they select, size and style their looks. And it extends to the Box Office, a service that connects customers with personal stylists via whichever communications channel they prefer, whether it’s WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, phone or email. Based on the customer’s input, shopping history and preferences, the stylist mixes and matches looks from the SuitSupply collection while handling ordering and shipping. It’s an approach that works — and scales. SuitSupply is now spread across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, with 31 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., and a new brand for women, Suistudio.
Or, take CataWiki, a curated online auction platform that helps consumers and collectors buy rare items and impossible gifts without an impossible shopping experience. CataWiki accounts for users’ unique tastes by leveraging real-time alerts via their preferred channels, so prospective buyers know the moment they’re being outbid for one-of-a-kind, one-in-a-million treasures like a T-Rex jaw bone, the world's most expensive Lego set, a lock of Napoleon's hair, or a 1982 DeLorean.
With the demands of our busy lives, convenience is king. Creating cutting-edge customer experiences is critical in building customer loyalty. Retail is no longer simply a transactional experience that starts and ends at the point of sale. It’s a relationship. Building brand loyalty hinges on having a strong connection with consumers, understanding their needs, and meeting them where they are. Consumers will respond to communication as long as it's relevant and delivered with all the context of their shopping history and via their favorite communications channels, whether it's SMS, messaging apps or voice.
The same goes for customer support. As the world becomes more mobile, companies and brands don’t want to interrupt customers’ lives; they want to fit in seamlessly as their customers are out-and-about living their lives. There aren’t a lot of people who want to pause their day to wait on hold for a support agent in order to resolve an issue with an order. More often than not, customers want those interactions to happen anytime, anywhere. And, increasingly, they want to be able to handle them discreetly, at their fingertips without having to ask their questions aloud on the phone or explain why they need to step outside or fire up their laptops to send an email to a support agent. That’s why smart retailers are increasingly shifting their support strategy to alternate communications channels that fit into consumers’ busy, digital lives, from WhatsApp Business to WeChat and SMS.
In retail today, the trick is meeting customers where they are because businesses no longer dictate the terms of customer interactions. Consumers do.
Robert Vis is the founder and CEO of MessageBird, a cloud communications platform offering a suite of APIs that enable developers and enterprises to communicate with customers in virtually every corner of the planet.
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Robert Vis is the founder and CEO of MessageBird, the Amsterdam and San Francisco-based cloud communications platform offering a suite of APIs that enable developers and enterprises to communicate with customers in virtually every corner of the planet. Bootstrapped since its founding, MessageBird closed the largest-ever early stage investment into a European software company in late 2017 ($60m led by US-based Accel and UK-based Atomico). Prior to MessageBird, Robert was the co-founder and CEO of Zaypay.com, a mobile payments platform. Robert resides in Amsterdam and San Francisco.