Ready For The Return To Retail?

Ready For The Return To Retail?

Focus On These Three Capabilities To Capture Greater Share Of Wallet

More than half of consumers (58%) said when they interact with their favorite brands and retailers, their expectations are higher than they were a year ago. And with the expected surge in retail purchases continuing throughout the summer and fall, brands need to double down on creating relevant, engaging offers to keep those customers happy and loyal.

After more than a year of being cooped up during the pandemic, many consumers are eager to return to in-store experiences. However, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation for retail brands and customers have grown accustomed to the high levels of personalization digital shopping provides. Now, with in-person shopping surging, retailers need to revamp the customer experience with three essential components in order to capture the maximum share of wallet:

  • Ensure relevance: Use first-party data to create unique experiences.
  • Create delight: Make the in-person experience more powerful than digital shopping with surprise touches that drive engagement.
  • Augment the associate: Connect the digital and in-store environments so associates become guides for the digitally-enabled in-person shopper.

1. Ensure Relevance

The pandemic forced retailers to introduce a variety of new measures, such as click-and-collect and curbside pickup, to make the customer experience safer, yet seamless. This was an effective way for brands to retain customers, but it also served to increase the expectations consumers have for in-store shopping experiences. As consumers return to stores, they will no longer accept the uneven experience many of us have experienced between online and in-store shopping.

Retailers have to reduce friction and create relevance for the customer no matter where or how they’re shopping. The best way to do that is to utilize first-party data — any information you’ve collected about your customers through loyalty programs or online purchases — and ensure it’s being actioned to create unique experiences for customers no matter their location. This ensures that as you bring customers back into your brick-and-mortar stores, you’ll create relevancy, lasting loyalty and extend the lifetime value of your customer base.

2. Create Delight

Many retailers struggle to create in-person experiences that are as unique and engaging as their online experiences. If a customer visits your store and can’t find their shoe size or the checkout process requires multiple, unnecessary steps, they’re going to leave disappointed — and they may never come back. What’s to stop them from switching to Amazon, where it’s more convenient to buy a pair of shoes in the correct size, skip the in-store points of friction and receive the product on their doorstep in 24 hours?

To develop and maintain engaging, individualized relationships, you need to create surprise-and-delight moments for customers in store and online:

Real-time promotions on mobile: When a customer walks into one of your stores, you can immediately highlight a personalized, real-time offer that is available to them. Use your brand’s mobile app to trigger these notifications based on a customer’s location. If a customer viewed one of your products online, your mobile app could send a notification telling them what aisle the product is in.

Optimized offers: You can incentivize future behavior by optimizing offers that keep your customers coming back. A simple example is when a customer buys a new pair of running shoes at your store, you can then send them an offer for running shorts to round out their athletic needs. Even deeper optimization is to continue learning through first-party data whether that customer is a long-time runner or they tried it out for a few months and quit. As consumers’ purchasing habits evolve with their life, your offers need to evolve with them to stay relevant.

3. Augment the Associate

Many brands use loyalty programs to gather customer information, but how you use that information is critical to creating actual loyalty. You need to create meaningful, relevant rewards that travel across channels. For example, a reward available to a customer online should also be offered in person for a consistent user experience that motivates customers to engage with your brand in whatever way is most convenient for them. This ensures that in-store associates become guides for customer relevancy, helping them find or purchase exactly what they need in any format they choose.

Loyalty programs are a powerful tool for retailers to establish deeper relationships and increase the lifetime value of each customer. To garner trust, your loyalty program should provide real value to your customers in exchange for their data, especially amid new privacy updates. Consumers know their data is valuable, and they expect something in return for it. Simply sending a mass email newsletter with a generic offer isn’t enough.

Exceed Customer Expectations

To meet and exceed your customers’ expectations during the coming surge in retail, you need to translate the highly personalized, engaging and seamless experiences consumers have grown accustomed to online to the in-store environment. If customers perceive value in a holistic experience, they’ll be more willing to continue sharing their personal information, allowing you to extend the lifetime value of those customers. Retailers that fail to provide this level of experience will lose customers to competitors that can.

This post originally ran on Forbes.