Consider, for a moment, just how much has changed in the world of customer engagement and retail marketing in only a few years. This thought makes it equally daunting to consider how much will change in the next five years. As everything evolves at an accelerated pace, many brands are uncertain of how to progress. This is why getting a glimpse into the future of retail success would be such a valuable experience.
And this is just what Tuesday’s Loyalty360 webinar, “What’s In Store for a 2020 Retailer?” happened to provide.
Ian Truscott, Client Principal of Tahzoo, was the featured webinar speaker and he detailed how brick-and-mortar stores can navigate the future ahead. Due to digital disruption, many retailers are now finding that many traditional business practices are becoming ineffective. As a result, retailers are, as Truscott stated, in the midst of a “retail revolution.”
“The people have spoken and the consumer is now hugely empowered,” Truscott said. “And what is empowering the consumer is social media and their ability to share their opinions with each other and with the world.”
People are now looking for great service, convenience, and brands they can associate with, Truscott noted. He cited Amazon, Zappos.com, and the Dollar Shave Club as some of the big winners in this revolution, and Blockbuster, RadioShack, and Circuit City as some of the big losers. The winners, both now and in the future, will be those who lead the retail revolution by giving the people what they want. And what they want is omni-channel customer experiences and relevant recognition for their loyalty.
Embracing Everything Mobile, Both In-store and Out:
While many retailers, of course, do offer websites and various mobile apps, Truscott noted that many brick-and-mortar retail stores still persist in dissuading mobile use while customers are actually in-store to do things like price comparisons, product research, or read other customer reviews.
Some retailers even see these practices as some sort of an affront to their business. But Truscott emphasizes the need for retailers to embrace all aspects of mobile as a crucial part of the in-store customer experience, not an alternative to it.
This is where the world is heading, and mobile will continue to play a crucial role going forward. Furthermore, even the numbers prove that this strategy will benefit most brands. Truscott presented some dramatic findings:
57% of mobile users visit the site or app of the retailer whose store they are in
48% would like to receive special offers on mobile devices while shopping
59% use their phone to get in-store help, only 17% like to speak to an associate
Smartphones alone influence 19% ($593 billion) of all in-store retail sales
It’s clear that it behooves the retailer of the future to embrace mobile devices from all angles.
Customer Loyalty Becomes Customer Affinity:
Most brands today still feel that offering points will build customer loyalty. But for Truscott, the retailer of 2020 has evolved past this traditional notion. True customer loyalty is more akin to affinity, and that is created when brands can build real and personal connections with customers.
Truscott then broke down the “DNA” of customer affinity. To achieve this hallowed status, a brand’s identity must communicate and coincide with a customer’s own values. Performance must continually deliver on the quality standards built upon a trusted reputation. Customer affinity can also be fostered through a sense of involvement and belonging by opening ongoing dialogs, creating spaces for like-minded customers to share knowledge with each other, and by generating clear membership boundaries that differentiate the brand from others.
When this is successfully accomplished customers with a high brand affinity will demonstrate a propensity to try new products, make recommendations, overlook mistakes, give meaningful feedback, and even defend the brand against detractors.
Customer loyalty programs can help this process along, and a forward thinking retailer of the future will not simply offer points. These new programs offer emotionally satisfying and engaging rewards by recognizing the customer as a unique individual and respecting their personal contributions towards helping the brand meet its goals.
The Fair Exchange:
This is the idea that brands and consumers can benefit from each other, and this is best achieved when brands remain dedicated to being helpful and relevant to customers.
“This applies to everything we do,” Truscott said. “If you are creating anything that the consumer is going to consume in a marketing sense, it also has to be beneficial to you as an organization and drive your goals forward. If you are only doing it for the consumer or for yourself, then ultimately neither is going to win.”
Accomplishing this requires brands to gain a true understanding of the customer as an individual. This idea is promoted over and over again, but Truscott pleads for brands to avoid merely paying lip service to the concept. This customer insight can only be gained by truly making the effort to figure out who customers are in a very real sense. Discovery does not merely happen over an afternoon or, as Truscott stated, after gathering a bunch of marketers in a conference room with a whiteboard.
Truscott firmly believes that these progressive ideas can help any brand caught up in retail revolution find a way to succeed. People are looking for a brand to champion and to lead the way forward. And those that can offer omni-channel relevance, meaningful and respectful recognition, and a fair exchange will be in a prime position to take charge now and become a 2020 retailer of the future.