Are you listening to your customers?

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The digital revolution has forever altered how customers and brands engage, The first casualty of this is change is the beaten path retailers used to attract customers, drive sales and define loyalty.

It’s all about the money, honey. Makes way for it’s all about the mobile, honey – engagement and 24/7 connectivity, as consumers search via multiple touch-points to find the best deals and products. Smartphones haven’t just changed the way shoppers used to locate, decide and make purchases, they  are the way shoppers locate, decide and buy.

  • For much of the 2014 holiday season, mobile shopping clicks exceeded those on the desktop indicating purchase decisions being made on the go.
    An IDC study suggests that 71% of shoppers who use smartphones for product research in-store say that it’s become an important part of the experience – People use smartphones as their new personal shopping assistant inside the store.

What does this mean?  Simply, that customer loyalty is not just about a single experience and it begins even before the first point of contact. For those retailers who want to stay relevant, understand this – customer loyalty today is now a derivation of – price, feedback from social channels, product availability, and convenience to name a few.

customer speaking

-That’s where analytics comes in…

One of the industry’s major game changers is retail analytics. With retail analytics, you are able to achieve a deeper understanding of the customer to enable retailers to engage customers real-time and gain a competitive advantage.

As technology has progressed the retail experience, too, has evolved from manual to digital. Enabling  digital shopping lists, and computerized and customized reminders, which can include everything from food expiration dates to meetings and appointments. Additionally, as we advance to more digital experiences, in-store navigation and beacon technology have become fundamental to assist customers in their shopping experience. e.g, these technologies can help customers find desired items and quickly navigate the store as they receive personalized offers – all leading to a more engaged and satisfied customer

Mobile apps have also become ubiquitous (Want me to prove it…well there is an app for that too…) and an important enabler to customer engagement, providing boundless opportunities for customized content for brand-related events, store maps, personalized rewards, and shopping lists and customized coupons, while the customer is going about his planning outside of your store premise.

The enormous amount of data being generated through mobile apps – clickstream, behavioral & geo-location data when combined together generate possibilities of mapping the customers effectively to offers, meaningful product recommendations and personalization of experience. Not only does it make sense from a ROMI standpoint, but also provides a rewarding experience to the customer,  fueling customer loyalty.

Customer preference for customized experiences is already validated. According to a combined study by Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands – 85% of shoppers are more likely to visit and purchase from stores that offer personalized coupons and exclusive offers provided in-store.

And as more retailers embrace the omni-channel strategy, we will see a vast amount of data flowing from multiple sources – the web (social media and e-commerce), various other digital platforms (app/mobile) and from the brick and mortar store transactions. The key here is to make sure you use this data efficiently to generate the right insight for targeted business decisions. And here is where analytics is the game changer – aiding decision making across functions:

  • Merchandising: Store-layout planning or assortment optimization
  • Supply Chain: Demand forecasting, inventory management, vendor management
  • Marketing: Optimizing media and promotion spends, understanding consumer behavioral patterns
  • Operations: Category management, fraud detection and loss prevention
  • Human Resources: Effective work force allocations

Conclusion

Analytics can help retailers personalize effectively, picking from golden sawdust of data generated across channels. Whether selling online, in-store or both, this is where data comes into play, and what you do with the data will separate the winners from those who are just “figuring it out.” And when you engage your customer as an individual, you gain a distinct competitive business advantage as now you have earned your opportunity to successfully cross-sell and up-sell to the customer as you provided her an enhanced shopping experience.

Rachit Ahuja, AVP Global Marketing, Ma Foi Analytics
@racahuja

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Omnichannel Behaviour Is Not The Future, It’s The Present!

Its The Present

“Omnichannel behaviour is not the future, it’s the present”, seemed to be the consensus in a recent Retailers’ conference in Mumbai organized by NASSCOM. Omnichannel retail occupied centre-stage in discussions among delegates, from the retail world and from the technology companies alike.

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While retailers largely acknowledge that offline purchases are influenced by online reviews (according to a survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of customers admit to that), and therefore advocate strong social media marketing, there are considerations other than product research (and, price of course!!) that merit attention on the part of the retailers and the technology providers alike.

What Constitutes Omnichannel Behavior

So, what constitutes omni channel behaviour and how do retailers respond to that, profitably? Some thought leaders assert that omni-channel behaviour is about discovery first, delivery later. Certain others see omni-channel realities as nothing more than a convergence of empowerment across channels.  Perhaps a more encompassing definition comes from a recent Sales Force whitepaper: “Mobile devices, ubiquitous connectivity, and social media have created empowered customers who are no longer loyal to a retail brand but to an experience across channels”

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So How Do Retailers Engage With The New Present

Some retailers are approaching it holistically. A creative and yet tactical response has been to tweak the POS system at the retailer’s end and calibrate it as a unified transaction platform. This allows the retailer to retain the customer within the brand, if not within the store. While this is indeed a novel use of technology, quantifiable success stories are yet to emerge out of these initiatives.

This Is Where Analytics Comes In

According to a RAI trade brief, Shoppers Stop has earmarked Rs 60-crore investment for tech push to become a seamless omni-channel retail store by end of 2016. Other retailers are expected to respond on similar lines. A strong tech layer is a must have as it is the primary enabler of the omni-channel behaviour itself. However, the critical success factor would be to derive insights from the data being generated with these multi-channel, multi-period & multi-tool customer – retailer interactions.

The Key Imperative For Retailers

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Drafting an agile multi-channel customer engagement strategy based on data would be the key imperative for retailers. Retailers are realizing that the attention span of the customer is going further down continuously. A strong analytics layer which allows for contextual engagement of the customer in real time will be a critical success factor in operationalizing any customer centric strategy.

We at Ma Foi Analytics believe in coming up with creative tools that empower retailers to engage with the customer meaningfully, and in real time. For example, our in-store customer feedback capture tool Servesmart is a simple and yet powerful means to capture customer expectations. In its simplest version, Servesmart tracks customer experience against customer expectations and through an embedded analytics layer on a tablet device, prompts the store associate to act in a certain way to manage experience.

In its more evolved stage, Servesmart interacts seamlessly with the POS system and transactions databases through web-services. This allows for personalization of product recommendation, dynamic pricing and customization of on the spot offers. The device in the hands of the store associate empowers her to further service the customer meaningfully. It allows for both discovery, and delivery in an omni-channel world.

It’s a Big Data Situation

Retailers also need to come to terms with the volume, velocity and variety of the data generated through omni-channel interactions. In other words, retailers need to recognize that it’s a big data situation, and put in place systems and processes commensurate with the scale. Partnering with analytics companies providing swift analytical layer along with management of the massive data infrastructure, would be a winning move at this juncture.

Vishal Sinha, Senior Manager, Ma Foi Analytics

connect with me on twitter @tovishalsinha