Think Experiences — Not Channels — to Connect with Customers

"You can't have your channels competing against one another … The goal is to get your organization as a whole to work toward overall revenue optimization, regardless of channel," says John Romney, global practice lead of Omnichannel at NTT DATA.

Marketers are talking "omnichannel" but are still stuck in fragmented silos with competing goals, metrics and compensation. Meanwhile, customers have increased their expectations of a buying journey with one integrated, cross-channel experience. For 2017, it will be life threatening if marketers do not embrace and deliver simultaneous all-channel customer engagement.

According to the "Driving Shopper Engagement through Digital Technology" study by Synchrony Financial, "Over half the population has researched a product, checked in at a retailer, tracked rewards points, or checked out while using a smartphone in the last three months alone." Other key points of this study:

Additionally, in the 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, it was noted, "85% of respondents indicated that unified commerce is their top priority." The report goes on to state, "As retailers navigate among this 'new' retail environment, they realize the need to not only allow, but also encourage, the transcending of channels and personalization of the customer's shopping experience…"

Apparel brand Perry Ellis put information from this POS/Customer Engagement study into action via a cloud-based technology solution, to create a "connected store" that uses digital tools within what it calls "a retail hub." "Our goal was to create a highly designed shop with functionality and a focus on technology incorporation," says Jennifer Stone Williams, vice president of retail services for Perry Ellis. The high tech retail space enables shoppers to discover the brand, have a personal moment, and engage with interactive, floating mirrors embedded with proximity sensors that offer product recommendations and styling suggestions.

Additionally, the company utilized iPads to free up sales associates to engage with consumers. "These mobile devices allowed the store associate to engage the customer anywhere in the store and throughout the transaction… [It] empower[s] the store associate to provide a much higher level of service to the customer and a more consultative sale," says Mark Colbert, director of retail systems at Perry Ellis International. Via the iPad, sales associates can help shoppers access product and price information, ratings and reviews, check inventory and fulfill out-of-stock orders by accessing cross-store and cross-channel data to locate and ship an item to the customer's door or sent as a gift.

Takeaways:
  1. Shoppers do not segment their journey into separate channels, they look at their experience as a united all-inclusive venture. Therefore, marketers need to realign procedures to deliver a new type of engagement that delivers simultaneous all channel integration.
  2. Rather than fighting the concept of "show rooming" (in which shoppers use mobile devices in store to gain product details and competitive information) marketers need to embrace this shopper practice and develop sales associate training and procedures that provide opportunities for actionable shopper help.
  3. Use of mobile technology is no longer a Millennial pursuit. Shoppers of all ages are now heavily engaged with mobile. In the "Driving Shopper Engagement through Digital Technology" study by Synchrony Financial it was noted, "The data shows that all retailers, no matter which generation they are targeting, need to embrace the growth of digital technology and its role in shoppers' everyday lives."

Providing a simultaneous all channel shopping experience is now mandatory to remain competitive and relevant. Marketers must keep developing new ways to innovate and deliver simultaneous all-channel customer engagement.



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

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