Author Archives: Mark Schroeder

5 Ways to Boost Your Post Silly Season Marketing

Why dread the post holiday season retail slump? This seasonal lull offers a host of marketing opportunities. It’s a prime time to shake out your digital marketing strategy and lay a strong foundation for the year ahead.

Smart companies know how to exploit the full potential of this traditional ‘rest easy’ retail environment – placing them at the head of the pack in terms of market share.

Here are five ways to tickle your customers’ fancy as the joy of Christmas wears off, and your competitors put their feet up!

 

  1. Launch a new product

Everything costs more in the run-up to Christmas, including advertising and digital marketing. Why not plan a product launch for late-January and make your marketing budget go further?

Catch people as they begin to emerge from their ‘holiday haze’ and re-engage with the retail world. As children get ready to go back to school, grown-ups get ready to spend again.

January and February are traditionally a time of slow news, so media outlets are also looking for fresh offerings to hook in their audience.

 

  1. Ramp up the remarketing

The new year is a great time to refine your remarketing strategy.

The pre-Christmas period provides valuable data about what your customers want and need, and now’s the time to use it.

  • Sell surplus stock by targeting customers who bought related items during the holiday run-up.
  • Remarket to customers who missed buying a sold-out product when it gets restocked.
  • Gear a loyalty program around a new year product promotion.

Refresh your customer relationships while your competitors are taking a break.

 

  1. Recover abandoned shopping carts

Carts are often abandoned in the run-up to Christmas as customers’ eyes tend to be bigger than their wallets.

People get carried away, then think better of it. Or maybe they’re tempted away by similar goods on offer elsewhere.

Whatever the reason, January is the perfect time to recoup some of these cast-away carts via:

  • Convert Christmas interest into January sales.
  • Customised email campaigns to remind customers of the product they considered.
  • Addressing the reasons for failure to buy, eg delivery times, size availability.

 

 

  1. Clean and segment your database

If valuable CRM statistics are going to waste, it’s high time to get your data working for you.

  • Segment your leads into useable groupings, perhaps categorise them in terms of customer type, status, strength and readiness to buy.
  • Create market campaigns relevant to different dataset and maybe mindsets.
  • Make sure your lead gen pipeline has a clear tagging process – capture that data.
  • Craft compelling ‘drip’ campaigns to keep customers interested between big events.

 

 

  1. Explore marketing automation

It’s not just about demand generation. Today’s automated marketing platforms are just as effective in the areas of branding and customer marketing.

With smart tracking, analytics and reporting, the right platform can increase new leads, sales, revenue, profit and overall ROI.

Get your digital marketing covered before the year really gets in the swing, and leave the competition standing.

 

We’re always up for a chat about how we can help your business. Contact us on 1800 737 266 or ask@permission.com.au to see how we can help you.

How to Make Your Small Business Look Like a Big Business

Now that we live in a global digital village, you’re no longer just competing with the other businesses in your area. You’re competing with the best in the world.

But before you panic, there’s good news. Even if your marketing budget is as little as $100,000, with a bit of know how, you can make it work as hard for you as a $1 million budget.

The secret lies in getting your brand, strategy and media mix all singing along in perfect harmony. Here’s how.

 

Nail your customer value proposition

Your customer value proposition (CVP) is an essential element to a strong brand. It is the simple explanation (aimed at your bullseye customer) of the benefits of your product or service. A good CVP should focus on customer problems and how your product or service solves them and shows what sets you apart from your competitors. It’s a clear statement of why you are the right choice for your targeted customers.

For example, the CVP on Uber’s Melbourne homepage is: One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless.

From this CVP, we know it solves customer convenience problems such as queuing, waiting on hold while ordering a taxi, having to dispatchers where you are and where you want to go and finally wasting time while the driver fiddles with their payment system.

 

Cut through and stand out

When you understand how your product or service solves your customer’s problems, fine-tune your brand personality. This is the way you talk, the images you use, and the look of your website. You might have an amazing product that could revolutionise your industry, but if you talk and look like everyone else, you’re unlikely to get noticed.

Consider this: If your brand was a person, who would it be? How would it talk? How would it behave? What would its values be?

 

Map your customer journey

Customer journey mapping is an essential tool for understanding how your customers interact with you at every touch point on their path to purchase.

It can show you where to most effectively connect with your target.

By understanding your customer journey, you can maximise your marketing spend to get the best returns at each stage from awareness, through to consideration and decision.

 

Maximise the three channel pillars: paid, earned and owned

When it comes to setting your message out there, you have three pillars to leverage: your paid pillars such as advertising, your earned pillars such as press coverage and your owned channels such as your website.

Your customer journey map will help prioritise which of these pillars is most important at each stage of the journey, and highlight where your money, or your effort is put to best use.

It could be that at the awareness stage, your customers are researching you online through forums. If that’s the case, incentivise your existing customers to review and respond to questions in forums on your behalf. At the consideration stage, your customers may click on your digital banner ad. At that point, your money may be best spent creating a landing page on your website with a special offer to convert the consideration to action.

The best brands in the world, the big and the small, know who they are, why their customers love them, and the best places to connect to their people.

 

Have a chat with us on 1800 737 266 for a call about a strategy to suit you and your business. Or email us at ask@permission.com.au. We’d love to help!

How Function vs Experience Dictate the Shopping Journey

Whatever your retail offering, it’s a pretty safe bet that one thing concerns you more than anything else – the ever-increasing competition.

In 2017’s retail landscape, global retailers are more present than ever. From Amazon to John Lewis, and from Debenhams to Alibaba, there’s no shortage of competition out there keen to grab your customers.

And it’s not just their retail offering you need to worry about – it’s all the things they know about the marketplace that you might not. Think:

  • Changing customer expectations.
  • Buyer demands for greater flexibility.
  • The best practice for online shopping features.
  • New forms of retail technology.

If they cater to these changing requirements and you don’t, there are no prizes for guessing who wins market share.

Success lies in knowing where your own store sits in the retail spectrum, developing a clearly differentiated and articulated brand, and taking a considered, strategic approach to your sales and marketing.

 

So where, and who are you?

Is your store primarily functional – like Bunnings or Coles – or experiential like T2, offering customers a unique, interactive experience which appeals to their emotions or senses?

If you offer tools or cleaning products which are readily available elsewhere, you can’t always compete on price alone. Yet all sorts of extras can enrich your value proposition. Your brand becomes instantly appealing if you overlay flexible delivery and return models, expert advice and niche services.

If you’re boutique or luxury, or simply want to give your customers an experience they won’t get anywhere else, investigate ways to add retail theatre. Join the likes of Samsung, Google and John Lewis by creating an interactive, sensory retail space to engage customers via screens, sensor technology, apps, video and bespoke experiences.

Of course, rules are made to be broken. Stores like Mecca offer impressive customer service – free shipping and returns, choice of free samples and complimentary gift wrapping – in a no nonsense retail environment it’s an effective hybrid of functional with experiential dimensions.

 

How functional vs experiential affects your marketing

If you’re at the functional end of the market, you know that your customers can buy a drill, soap powder or potting mix pretty much anywhere.

The key to winning customers lies in persuading them that your product exceeds the competition in terms of:

  • Performance. Show how your product stands out through top performance – whether that’s precision drilling, ultra-white clothes or highly productive potting mix which is good for the environment too.
  • Economy. Demonstrate the excellent value for money your product represents – a longer life or consistently better results than those offered by your competitors.

Provide discounts and special offers in terms of performance (free warranty) or economy (percentage off price).

When selling an experiential brand, customer appeal extends beyond the product to value adds that may come from the setting, the place or the encounter.

So, if you are selling fruit juices, coffee or cupcakes, the customer’s enjoyment will depend as much on the music, lighting, smell, visuals and customer service in-store as it will on the food or beverage itself.

Consider adding free customer wi-fi, virtual reality experiences and online videos to the mix.

And remember, it’s all about how the customer feels when they interact with your brand. Be sure your special offers enhance the experience – a free beauty treatment or ‘coffee for two’ on the customer’s birthday, for instance.

 

The need to take a strategic approach

Whether it’s experiential or functional, a planned, strategic approach to your marketing keeps you on-track at every stage of the journey.

It ensures you cover off every angle, including:

  • Outstanding customer service.
  • Faster fulfilment of orders.
  • Deeper knowledge of customer preferences and buying habits.
  • Smarter problem-solving and solutions.
  • Customised retail offerings.
  • A variety of delivery and return options.
  • Comprehensive delivery tracking.

 

Ultimately, every successful retailer must offer customers both smooth function and pleasing experience.

 

Why not call us on 1800 737 266 for a chat about a strategy to suit you? Or email us at ask@permission.com.au. We’d love to help.

Sort Out Your Email Database in Time for Christmas Profits

Is your email database in need of some fattening up for Christmas? Like many retailers, you probably bank most of your yearly sales during the peak festive season – and it’s just around the corner.

 

So now’s the time to whip your database into shape, and start warming up potential customers so they’re poised to shop with you when the Christmas spirit kicks in.

 

Why a customer database is a potential gold mine

Did you know that when it comes to attracting customers, email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined? A recent McKinsey & Company report* shows people who click on these emails are three times as likely to purchase something versus those who click through from social media. Also, they tend to spend more money.

 

In other words, email campaigns are where it’s at if you want to attract new customers to your business, and keep the conversation going to stay on their radar.

And the two things you need to run effective email marketing campaigns are an accurate, up-to-date database of customer details, and emails that make these people behave the way you want them to (ie eventually buy your stuff).

 

If you build it, the sales will come

Building a database can be as easy as 1,2,3.

 

  1. Collect email addresses in person, in store

Salespeople should ask for an email address at the time of purchase. Many people are reluctant to part with their details, so customers will likely require an incentive to give their details over, for example a membership that offers them exclusive deals and offers.

 

  1. Use your website

While users are browsing your site, it’s a perfect opportunity to ask them to register with you, using an incentive to motivate (15% off your first purchase!). Most websites come with built-in forms to use, or you can install plug-ins that can create more flexible and customisable forms. Make the offer pop – but not so much it annoys the user (a pop up that can easily be closed can work well for this).

 

  1. Collect details as part of online purchasing

When you have customers who are about to finalise a purchase with your site, offer them the option of registering their email address.

Make it optional though, not mandatory. No one likes to be forced into these things, as that’s a quick way to turn people off the idea of purchasing at all. Offer some benefits to registration (track your order, have your details retained for next time) and give users the option of checking out as a guest if they’d prefer it.

 

Talk to people about stuff that makes sense
Now you have your database, it’s time to make it work hard for you. This doesn’t mean sending out one email to every subscriber. You’ll probably hit the mark with a few, but a generic email won’t resonate with most.

 

Target your emails to certain customers and send them relevant information based on where they are at in their relationship with you.

 

A brilliant way to do this is to send out emails to customers based on a certain interaction (trigger) they’ve had with your website, app, email or other channel.

 

Why? Because as reported by VentureBeat,** triggered emails drive 624% higher conversion response, a 381% higher click through rate, and a 180% higher post-click conversion rate.

 

What’s the optimal number of triggers for an effective email marketing campaign? The answer is as many as possible. The more tailored your messaging is, and the more targeted your audience is, the most success you’ll have.

 

So what are trigger emails, exactly?

Here are some examples of the most common types:

  • Welcome: This introduces your customer to your brand, and can outline your offer.
  • Introductory: This type of email encourages subscribers to further interact with a website by setting up an account or showing them how to browse items of interest.
  • Activation: These emails encourage inactive subscribers to take action – for example, to make their first purchase on the site, potentially through an introductory offer.
  • Re-activation: Targeted at subscribers who haven’t responded to emails. They might need further incentive to engage.
  • Remarketing: This is a very effective way to close a deal. Email customers who have made it to the final stage of the online shopping process but abandoned their cart.
  • Account: These are simply notifications of changes to their account. Not exciting, but keeps you on the radar and can prompt a re-visit to the website.
  • Transactional: Information about an existing order (order confirmation, shipping confirmation, tracking information).
  • Personal: Emails wishing customers happy birthday, or acknowledging any personal event (ideally with associated offers or ‘gifts’)
  • Milestones: Thank customers for their loyalty and acknowledging their anniversary as a member of the website.
  • Real time: These are more dynamic updates – could be weather or location triggers that suggest purchases that make sense (don’t get caught in the rain – 20% off all wet weather gear today only!).

 

A database of customer details can be the Christmas golden goose if it’s used effectively. Start building your database now and emailing your customers information that’s relevant to them.

 

Look at every customer in your database as a potential VIP, and offer them targeted messaging via triggered emails to move them through the buyer lifecycle. If your messaging is relevant enough, you stand a good chance of getting customers to where you want them – engaged and active as Christmas draws closer!

 

If you are interested in learning more about email marketing, contact us on 1800 737  266 or ask@permission.com.au for a chat on how we can help you achieve your goal.

 

References:

*http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/why-marketers-should-keep-sending-you-emails

**https://venturebeat.com/2016/10/14/study-shows-triggered-push-notifications-are-2770-better-than-batch-messages/

What is pricing transparency and how can it benefit you?

In an age where consumers can find a product they like and compare its cost to thousands of channels that sell the exact same product in just a couple of minutes, it’s no wonder that retailers are struggling to maintain margins especially against online discounters and mammoths like Amazon.

Some smaller retailers have found a smart solution to this problem.

 

What is pricing transparency?

Pricing transparency is essentially showing the actual cost of an item broken down by cost of materials, labour needed to create the item, transportation of the item and more.  In other words, the retail price fully explained. Until now, showing your hand like this has been unthinkable, however this is changing.

Luxury leather goods company, Oliver Cabell, practices pricing transparency by exposing the costs of all products on their website like so:

With a cost of about $130 and a price of $285 for a bag, you may be thinking that Oliver Cabell is digging their own grave by broadcasting the difference – but customers are responding.

 

Why does cost transparency work?

Pricing transparency is a bold response to the growing desire amongst consumers to see that everybody is getting paid fairly for goods they buy – it’s known as ‘conscious consumption’ and it’s growing, particularly amongst cashed-up millennials.

The evidence is that customers accept the retailer’s right to make a reasonable margin, and they’ll reward retailers that share dollars around on an ethical basis.

Customers like to be in the know and like to be treated with respect. The sharing of hitherto hidden information helps build trust and loyalty, which can only be built on respect.

Seeing exactly how much that t-shirt, couch or shoe cost can actually highlight the value of the products. Transparency can be used to show people how much of a good deal they are getting compared to other retailers.

 

Still not convinced? Here’s an example:

A handbags and wallet retailer decided to promote sales on their website by including an infographic that broke out their costs on a particular wallet. But wait – they forgot to include this infographic on every variant of the wallet, so the wallet in burgundy, black, and grey had the infographic whilst the bone and tan models did not. Only after a few weeks did the retailer notice the issue, and on closer inspection, the retailer found that the sales of the models that included the pricing transparency infographic improved by a whopping 44 %!*

Cost transparency may not work for everyone. If you are getting away with charging margins that are way above the market norm or you’re using cheap labour, cheap materials or inflating costs this isn’t going do you any favours. Then again if that’s what you’re doing, you might just want to look at your pricing strategies because the trend is perhaps not going to be your friend!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about consumer trends that can help you take your retail marketing to the next level, contact us on 1800 737 266 or email ask@permission.com.au for a chat.

 

References:

*https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2014/12/15/when-retailers-reveal-production-costs-consumers-are-more-likely-to-buy/#66a869e768a1

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/07/business/smallbusiness/transparency-pricing-retail-clothing.html

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/cost-transparency-is-the-new-trend-2015-10

https://www.ferrierhodgson.com/au/media-and-publications/industry-postcards/retail/price-transparency-a-game-changer-for-customer-engagement

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/03/13/for-offline-retailers-the-trouble-with-price-transparency/#10d3bb23d3b2

Retail’s new best buddies: Marketing and IT

Marketing and IT have no choice but to work together, especially in the retail industry. However, there’s an issue; 78% of IT people think they work collaboratively with marketing, but only 58% of marketers agree that’s the case.* As our digital experience continues to grow, IT is becoming the backbone of marketing, so these two industries need to work together for marketing to be effective. Marketers need the next big thing and they needed it yesterday.

Marketers talk about the customer journey, but what you may not see is the depth of strategy and technology that goes into creating it. The customer journey is not just a fancy flow diagram of steps you want your customer to take and an enticing message to drive them through. While creative messaging is important, it also needs to be relevant to the customer at every touchpoint and data is essential for this information. Without the right data, you’ll be taking a stab in the dark, for example, sending a mass marketing message to everyone, which may be the most preventable blunder you can make in 2017. We can’t avoid the fact that the customer journey will not flow seamlessly without smart technology to support it.

Technology is now a cornerstone for the marketing department as marketers are being pressed to understand their customers like never before to avoid being left behind by competitors. Marketers must gain insight into their customer’s behaviours on almost an individual basis to deliver the right communications that will nurture the relationship to point of sale and beyond.

This may sound complex and it definitely can be. The stack of technologies needed to capture, integrate and organise the right data in each step of your customer’s journey can add up, and if you’re not careful, you’ll have 30 technologies in place to drive someone to the checkout.

A marketing technology stack from Scott Brinker’s Stackies Awards.

The complexity of working with so many platforms is not the only pitfall, it can also hurt your budget. However, there is a solution to help you avoid the need for multiple technologies but achieve an even greater technology support. This can be done with the right Marketing Automation platform.

Effective marketing automation gives you the tools, insights, data and delivery you need to get the right messages, to the right people, at the right time, create meaningful relationships with your customers, and measure your marketing success in one platform.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about forward thinking technologies to take your customer journey to the next level, contact us on 1800 737 266 or ask@permission.com.au for a chat on how we can help you achieve your goal.

 

References

*https://econsultancy.com/blog/64641-how-marketing-and-it-are-working-together/

 

Track customers without them noticing

Ever wondered what your customers were doing on your website, with your emails or in social and in and around your store but didn’t want to ask? Well now you can know, and it’s a lot simpler than you think. Retailers can easily track customer movements in real time through their smartphone’s Wi-fi or Bluetooth. This tracking isn’t just limited to instore movements, but movements around the outside of the storefront or even around a shopping centre.

Unfortunately, this method doesn’t allow you to communicate directly to the customer or let you to know exactly who they are, their demographics etc, but it provides great insights into their behaviour. It can highlight general tendencies in where customers stop, spend a great deal of time or walk past completely.

 

How does it work?

By installing retail analytics technology that a variety of companies offer, you can identify customer’s locations through their smartphone’s attempt to connect to Wifi services in your store. Customers don’t even need to join the Wi-Fi network to be tracked, but so long as their Wi-Fi is turned on you can trace their exact movements.

The technology collects media access code (MAC) addresses and every smartphone has a unique MAC address. Newer phones have dynamic MAC addresses, so when a customer enters a store each time you can’t aggregate their previous behaviour. This will make trend analysis more difficult, but you will still get insights into each visit.

There are different types of technology providers, some give more information than others depending on what services you purchase. Popular providers include ShopperTrak, Retail Next and Euclid Analytics.

 

What can it tell me?

If you are a retailer that wants to trace customer’s behaviour in and around your store, this technology can give you a range of data. As an example, if you are a department store and say you found the trend that many customers that enter Kitchenware then go upstairs to Entertainment then back down to White Goods, you may decide to move all these departments onto one level, to make the customer experience smoother. Alternatively, you may decide to install signage regarding the departments on the route most popularly travelled by customers.

Here’s another one. Say you found that most people in Womenswear were exiting the store after staying in that department for 10 minutes. This insight could help you see that there is a staffing problem in that section, with customers giving up looking for help thus leaving the store. This insight could also show you that it takes 10 minutes for customers to find the item they are after, however as there are no cash registers in that department, they then walk over to the adjacent department to pay. This indicates that you may need to install a register in that department to increase customer satisfaction.

What if you were thinking of installing a new digital sign near one of your entrances, but weren’t sure of how many people entered the store or walked past that entrance? You could use the technology to monitor the movements at that entrance, install the sign, see if people stop to see the sign and how many people that sign converts into walking in store.

 

The possibilities are endless.

 

Interested in learning more or are after a chat? Contact us on 1800 737  266 or ask@permission.com.au for a chat on how we can help you achieve your goal.

 

References:

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=afce6818-897f-4561-bd52-df1a59bf3768

http://time.com/money/4506297/how-retailers-track-you/

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/stores-are-using-big-data-to-track-their-customers-20161005-grvek5.html

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/datablog/2014/jan/10/how-tracking-customers-in-store-will-soon-be-the-norm

Study reveals Millennials demand in-store tech and Gen Z won’t shop in your store unless you have WIFI

Don’t underestimate the power of Generation Z on customer spending and the difference this could make to your business. Not only have they been born with a smartphone in hand, but a new 2017 study by HCR Retail Advisory reveals that Gen Z (aged 10-17) actually prefer shopping in brick and mortar stores… if they have wi-fi. 90% of this tech savvy group say a strong wi-fi signal is important to them in their shopping experience.

Millennials on the other hand (aged 18-41) are going to need a little more than a wi-fi signal to get their butts into your store as they prefer to shop online. There is a chance that attracting Gen Z’s into your store will influence their millennial family members to join them, but if you want to meet customer demand and exceed competitors, there is more to be done. The study reveals the in-store and social tech that these groups expect from you in delivering a transformative, tech driven shopping experience.

 

Magic Mirrors to Enhance In-Store Experiences

Ever tried clothes on in a change room and taken a classic mirror selfie to send to a well trusted fashionista friend or family member who will either make or break your decision to purchase the item? If yes, you’re not alone and if no, chances are you’re not a millennial.

This common trend among millennials and Gen Z’ers has sparked the demand for magic mirrors in change rooms. They are essentially wi-fi enabled digital touch screens. Whether it’s facetiming your friend for fashion advice, sending images through social media or adjusting the lighting to see what the clothing piece would look like under different conditions, they keep you connected, which is what these target groups are all about.

66% of Millennials aged 18 to 34 said they would be at least somewhat likely to use the technology, while Gen Z and young Millennials would embrace emerging technologies, particularly if they enhanced a connection with their social network or streamlined the shopping experience.

Rebecca Minkoff’s interactive U.S. store features the magic mirror, but the shopping experience doesn’t end there. Customers can also order a complimentary beverage when they first walk in and receive a text message when their drink is ready.

 

Social Networks Drive Purchase Decisions

With 60% of the Gen Z and Millennials on Facebook daily, more than 50% use social media to make decisions while shopping.

While social networks don’t drive a high number of sales directly – as it’s not about a simple click to buy transaction – they have a large influence over the products purchased, which can be leveraged to drive customers in store.

Leveraging social media as a key part of the buyer journey can be done through retargeting, influencer marketing, paid media, Facebook store locations… the list goes on. The approach you take depends on your audience and how they use social tools to choose the products they buy. For example, 54% of Gen Z’ers beauty purchases are driven by friends and YouTube influencers.

 

Implementing the best tech for your customer shopping experience starts by analysing and understanding your target audience to know what is important to them. Want to learn more? For a casual and informative chat on how we take a customer strategy-led approach, contact us on 1800 737 266 or ask@permission.com.au.

 

References

HCR Retail Advisory Study – http://2zv8d330tvxf1rtrfg47blpx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Generation-Z-and-Millennials-Demand-In-Store-Technologies-and-Social-Media-%E2%80%98Likes%E2%80%99-to-Shop.pdf

 

 

Create unique customer experiences using in-store technology

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Now, more than ever, you really need to convert every store visit into a sale, right? You work so hard and spend so much to generate foot traffic but are you doing everything possible to convert shoppers into buyers?

Are you responding to what’s been called ‘The Experience Economy’?

People have responded by the billions to the immediacy and the value offered by ecommerce and increasingly mcommerce. With the option to hop online and buy whenever they want, customers’ functional shopping needs – range, convenience, price-competitiveness, recommendations and reviews, deep product information – have been met.

So when they take time out to visit your physical store, they’re looking for something different. They want to step into a world where they are delighted by a unique experience which rewards the time they invested.

Traditional retailers need to secure their place in the shopper’s new world by building on their strengths and exploiting online’s weaknesses whilst at the same time integrating its best tricks into the store experience.. With no retailing experience, Apple went from being a tech manufacturer to having the world’s highest yield per sqm of retail floor in just a few years. As online giants such as Amazon start to push into physical stores, beware the traditional retailer that isn’t thinking very hard about how they can optimise the store experience to satisfy needs and drive conversion.

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In-store technology comes to the fore

The pace of development in store-based technologies is breathtaking as retailers start to accept that tech-based experiences can provide a competitive edge that online retailers can’t replicate. In fact technology itself can be a great brand differentiator.

The variety of ways to integrate technology to transform a shopper’s buying experience is huge, ranging from basic digital signage using screens to replace the old paper posters (adding video impact and removing paper wastage), to fully immersive augmentred reality tools that allow you to visit virtual worlds to try out a product!

Take clothing retailer, UNIQLO for example, who created ‘Umood’ here in Australia, a neuroscience- based tool that reads customer’s neurological reactions to clothing shown, and recommended products to compliment the consumer’s state of mind. What a great way to broaden customers interest in offerings they may not have considered.

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Any number of fashion retailers now offer digital interactive change rooms. These come in several guises. Customers’ product selections can be automatically identified as they enter the changing room so that a recommendation engine can then suggest (ie upsell and cross sell) matching accessories which they can request to be brought to them using a touchscreen display.  Others allow you to try clothes on, activate a scan and then see how you look wearing virtually displayed accessories.  It’s fun and functional for the customer, and effective selling for the retailer.

Another local example is Sheridan Sheets’ use of virtual product merchandising. Obviously there’s a limit to how many bedspreads you can display, and stacking them in shelves doesn’t show the product to its best advantage, so Sheridan use touchkiosks where the user can scroll through images shown. Laminex takes this a step further, offering kiosks to let you overlay your selected combination of finishes and colours onto various virtual kitchen environments to help you envisage the end result, all assisted of course by a knowledgeable sales assistant who uses the technology as part of the sales process.

US home improvement store, Lowes takes it a step further, allowing customers to step into a room that uses 3D technology to show exactly how these products would look together.

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A great example of using technology for operational/customer service purposes is the use of mobile devices by sales staff to empower them with information on demand – from what’s the difference between those two washing machines to what kind of fasteners you need to install them. A Motorola survey showed that when shoppers received guidance from a retail associate armed with a mobile device, 43 percent reported an improved shopping experience.

As with so many examples of technology, this has the added advantage of collecting customer data and insights – as you collect each touch or slide of the finger, you get data about what customers are asking about. Suddenly the store becomes a valuable source of behavioural data that cannot be collected online.

 

With so many options, where to start your journey

Although the cost of all technologies is plummeting, integrating it into your retail concept is a big step.  Selecting the best technology can be difficult and it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and lose sight of your goals, so where do you start?

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Well the two most important building blocks are your own team, and of course the good old customer!

Define their shopping and decision making process; what is their mindset incoming to the store, what it is they want in terms of experience, information, entertainment, interaction, engagement and customer service?  Then start to explore the many ways technology can impact and optimise each of these areas.

For your team, don’t leave this to a single silo. How many retailers have an innovation budget, let alone a suitably qualified and empowered manager? A major issue is project ownership; whilst these technologies serve marketing (and sometimes training) objectives, they involve the kind of technologies that are generally designed, procured, managed and even funded out of the IT department. Often the two functions work at cross purposes or even in opposition! Create a cross-functional team to work on the project – marketing, retail ops, IT, store design and merchandising all play a role. You MUST also secure top down support.

Did you know that Forrester Research predicts that one-third of companies in the B2C space will begin changing their business structure to get closer to the customer and effectively compete on the basis of experiences? These companies will move from functional-siloed organizations that prioritise efficiency and control to customer-driven matrix structures.

There’s so much more to say, so for a casual and informative chat on how we take a customer strategy-led approach to customer-facing technology, contact us on 1800 737 266 or  ask@permission.com.au.

 

 

References:

https://www.cmo.com.au/article/600758/10-brands-using-tech-create-great-in-store-experiences/

http://www.businessinsider.com/sc/technology-changing-the-in-store-retail-experience-2015-10/?r=AU&IR=T

http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/07/technology/lowes-virtual-reality/

https://go.forrester.com/wp-content/uploads/Forrester-2017-Predictions.pdf