Aug 2015 | Marketing Solutions | Marketing

Retail marketing is in a state of flux

Changing consumer behaviour, driven by ever-more sophisticated technology, has transformed the way we receive messages about retail and make purchases from our favourite brands into something almost unrecognisable from the shopping experience that we all grew up with.

But this is nothing new – in fact I’ve written a number of pieces on this topic already – so I won’t bore you with any more detailed explanations of the causes, rhymes or reasons.

The key fact to remember is that regardless of future technological changes, trends or consumer behaviour, the brands that succeed will always be the ones which keep their consumers front of mind.

What this means is that as marketers we have to focus on the customer experience. The customer comes first and the way to keep a customer happy is to make their journey and experience as easy, painless and, dare I say it, fun, as possible.

So what I thought I’d do is highlight a few cool and innovative techniques that really add to the customer experience. Who knows, they may provide you with a little inspiration.

Physical social proofing

Most marketers understand the importance of social proofing and have done for a while. In the modern media landscape, recommendations and reviews are powerful factors in converting a lead into a sale. But how do you incorporate them into the customer journey – or, more specifically, a physical store?

How about including online reviews in your physical POS? Facebook ‘Likes’ next to products? ‘Most Pinned’ signs next to the most popular products? You could even include screens showing the live product pages – to prove you’re not making it up. How about enabling people to browse reviews while holding the product in their hand?

It’s much easier to gather reviews online than in store so it makes sense to use the online reviews in a physical location.

Mobile app to let shoppers skip checkout lines

Convenience and speed is something physical stores have over their online counterparts. Popping to the local shops for a few items can be considerably easier than ordering online and having to wait for it to be delivered – especially if the need is urgent. However, queuing and crowds are a turn off so removing these pain points will benefit the customer’s experience immensely.

How about developing an app which allows shoppers to browse, scan and buy products on their phones in store. Skipping queues and reducing the amount of time customers have to spend in store.

Crowd source suggestions for new products or selections

This is an idea which encourages customers to be more engaged and play a greater role in the products you offer. Not only do they get to tell you what they want but it also ensures they know you’re selling that particular product and feel responsible for you having that product – heightening their likelihood to purchase as they feel engaged and involved.

Crowd sourcing isn’t half as difficult as it may seem. It can be as simple as asking for people’s opinions on social media, hosting a competition or handing out surveys. Just remember to publicise the final results so your customers can take the credit and reap the benefits.

Interact on social

Hold your horses, don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest ‘use social media’ as one of my innovative strategies. Social media isn’t exactly revolutionary any more. Pretty much every brand has a presence (if yours doesn’t then take this as a prompt to go and create one), but not all brands are doing it in the most optimal manner.

To get the most benefit you need to engage, respond, and interact on other people’s terms – not just your own. This means don’t just talk about yourself in the channels you own. Simply owning a page and throwing out marketing won’t get anywhere near the traction, nor bear as much fruit as creating meaningful relationships through interactions and dialogue.

Organise group offers on social media

If you have a decent social media presence (‘decent’ being dependent on the size of your business and the volume of social engagement you receive) you may wish to use it as a platform to share discounts. If you make it so that you have to follow your account to be used it’ll widen your reach as people share your page with people they think will be interested – and if they’re interested in what you have to offer than they’re potentially valuable customers.

Understand the customer in order to improve the customer experience

As we’ve explored, any way you can improve the customer experience will prove beneficial for your business and any one of the above strategies will do exactly that. However, there is one piece of the jigsaw missing – the knowledge of your customers that enables you to tailor your efforts to suit them.

So whether that’s demographic insights, segmentation, customer profiling or online intelligence it’s critical that you know a lot about your customers – their desires, wants and habits.

Experian Marketing Servicesis the leading global provider of consumer insights, targeting, data quality and cross-channel marketing – Named a Strong Performer in the Forrester Research, Inc. July 2015 report The Forrester Wave™

We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers. By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.