In a recent WSJ article – “Stores Hunt for Tech” The CEO of HSN is quoted “For any retailer today, you have to think of your connection with customers,” said Ms. Grossman. “How are you going to differentiate yourself in today’s world and how are you going to create an element of excitement?”
The National Retail Federation (NRF) hosting its Big Show this week – there is going to be a focus, as there has been for many years now, on technology; including mobile, social, and in-store experience – nothing new there. What is new is that now is the time for big brands and retailers to jump into, not just experiment with technologies that create an omni-channel, engaging, differentiated shopping and buying experience.
With 90% of retail still happening in-store, retailers are under significant pressures, including showrooming, e-commerce competition, and customer engagement. In the executive ranks of every retailer and brand, there is a 100% confidence that e-commerce, social media, and engaging in-store experiences are the path forward. However in reality, large retailers and brands are organized into different teams that cover social, email, e-commerce, merchandising, in-store retail and IT. Organization challenges are a huge hurdle for retailers and brands to meet their customer engagement and omni-channel goals.
It doesn’t have to be that hard. At ReadyPulse we believe there are (2) effective, and easy, ways that every retailer and brand can take to increase customer engagement.
1. Show off you customers on your website . Facebook is optimized for engagement, not commerce. Your website is optimized for commerce not engagement. Consumers believe authentic, visual social comments, ones with people’s pictures and real names, ones they can click on to check who they are. Few believe text based, dated, static, testimonials these days. Consumers expect a visual, authentic, personalize experience on your site. Start by infusing your best customers comments, photos, and posts throughout your site. Whether its Home page, category page, product pages, checkout pages – authentic, visual word of mouth from your customers is the best form of marketing.
2. Make your stores social. Want to get people in your store? Try showing them off. Large digital display in the window, a walk up kiosk, or an iPad POS display. Bring social engagement to life. Allow fans to provide feedback on their shopping experience in your store, in a natural way – not with a survey, but in a social way. Think of in store kiosks that present testimonials, provides coupons, take pictures of products, offers check-ins and collects emails, from shoppers and buyers. Maybe a customer of the month, a picture of the day, or showcase trending products. Yes some people will still want to see aspirational pictures of 6ft models running in the snow with perfect hair and make-up, but you are going to be a more believable and effective retailer if you also show how the local mom of two is enjoying wearing her new yoga gear while getting Starbucks after dropping the kids off at school.
Give your customers what they are looking for – an engaging and social shopping and buying experience, one that is visual, authentic and interactive. Customers will appreciate that you showcase your customers often leading them to contribute their brand enthusiasm to achieve the same recognition within the community that you provide your best customers.