As Communities become the front door to shops, retailers extend there offerings towards building communities around their stores. Content and likes drive buying decisions. The work on omni-channel services has become top level priority for retailers. The culture of shopping is changing significantly, as consumers gain more autonomy when shopping. And nevertheless things come together again when looking at a matrix of key factors making up retail success strategies for winning solutions.
Retail Success Strategy 1: Foster Customer Motivation
The first and most important element of retail success strategies is the customer. Today the strategy of customers itself – looking for autonomy, mastery, and purpose – are key drivers for omni-channel strategies. The reason is simple, as they define the motivation of everyone of us. Understanding them is the entry point into a better understanding of the needs of customers. This is the first step into successful retail.
Autonomy – Customers can select appropriate channels on themselves today. Choice was never bigger. Marketing communication is consumed from a self-service perspective. It is the customers’ choice when, where, and how they consume messages spread by retailers and brands. They enjoy their freedom to decide autonomous. This digital advertisement industry can tell about it already, as they are facing the threat of ad-blocker, where more and more consumers decide to ignore their content (see latest study from Accenture on ad-blockers). Only solution which will leave autonomy on decisions to customers will have a chance to succeed.
Mastery – Consumers feel like the communication is helping them to improve their shopping missions. Right product, fair price, excellent service, efficient shopping, inspiration – if communication helps to take decisions, follow trends, or perceive inspirations, improvements in mastery will be the result for customers.
Purpose – Deriving relevant actions following marketing communication. E.g. when customers consider to visit a shop because an offer is working for them, the attention on the marketing communication gives an purpose. Consumers will perceive everything, which makes their life more complete, a purpose for their activities. The purpose makes them happy about their decisions, irrespective if it is saving money or the compliment of a friend.
As a result, omni-channel retail solutions have to offer agility to create options for interaction. Fostering customer motivation can lead into quite complex scenarios. Offering autonomy, enabling mastery, and addressing a real purpose, while running a reasonable retail business will require a lot of creativity.
For retail success strategies it will be of superior importance, that autonomy, personal mastery, and purpose of actions of consumers are constantly considered and improved.
If you want to read more about motivation, you have to check out the following book: Daniel Pink – Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Retail Success Strategy 2: Ensure maximal Customer Attention
As see from the strategy derived from customer motivation, omni-channel strategies will require agility and can lead into complex scenarios. Anyhow – the number of channels, which can be maintained actively by retailers, is restricted. It will be important to attract customers and prospects to the actively maintained channels. The better attraction is working, the less channels will be required. The ability to skip channels saves a lot of money and is a driver for efficiency and consistency.
The same cost considerations apply for channel stickiness of customers. Channels with a tremendous churn rate might be worth nothing at all. As consumers turn over to other channels, you will need to follow them. It will help to develop channel by channel instead of trying to achieve everything at once.
The key measure for channel success is customer attention. Attraction and stickiness will come from attention. Attention again commences the participation of consumers in communication based on their perception.
Relevance – Without relevance it is difficult to raise attention. As soon as relevance is not given, the communication does not serve a purpose. As explained before, purpose is one of the key drivers for motivation. Relevance thereby is the first most objective for communication, irrespective of channel and target groups.
Information – Availability of contextual information becomes a must. If customers need to switch channel or are lacking in-store information, the probability that they will not come back from their “knowledge” excursion is significant. Communication has to anticipate the need for investigations or the wish for confirmation of the shopping intent. This is presumably one of the best reasons, why social media and retail started to come closer together (see also Hot topics in digital retail: Context).
Inspiration – The chance of customer getting back to your channels will raise with the level of inspiration they experience. Unintentional visits often originate from the wish to be inspired. The difficulty with inspiration will be to keep it relevant. Periodic repetition of same or similar activities will become routine for customers and get boring soon. Say goodbye to like for like and start to look for new measures. Be inspired.
Once relevance of content, context information, and elements of inspiration will give consumers a purpose, they help them master their shopping challenges. Customers will love it give away more from themselves, which again can help retailers to establish new services. Ensuring customer attention beside the pure offering must be a strategical asset.
Retail Success Strategy 3: Considered Solutions tailored for both only – Customers and Retailers
Talking about the retail solutions success factors, relevance, the access to information, and inspiration are key factors for a successful store. When great store concepts, educated staff, and the sensual in-store experience come together, it will meet customers expectations. Satisfaction and loyalty grows and the business is flourishing.
While in-store concepts can work like this, on-line shops do not manage to establish concepts, which provide the same experience on-line. Attempts to introduce virtual clerks, 360 degree views, or virtual lockers are no substitutes for real hands-on experience. They are there, but they are no real substitutes.
On the other hand side on-line stores can benefit a lot from the digital nature. Detailed tracking of customer behavior helps to understand relevance, customized content can address needs efficiently, communities help to spread the word of mouth almost at speed of light.
It will stay with the consumer to decide to shop on-line or in-store. Those retailers, who offer hybrid services consistently across physical and digital channels, can have a real advantage over their competitors – as long as they consider the consumers in their activities.
Personalization – Identification of a shopping mission is of interest for many customers. Personalization requires knowledge about needs and missions of individuals. Though, it is not only about knowing everything about customers, making use of this information for optimizing the business. Personalization has to be much more about personality. It is about giving back identity to shoppers as it honors individuality. Customers being perceived as individuals will feel much more comfortable with services delivered to them.
Agility – Flexibility in content and offers by maintaining agile processes. Any kind of customer treatment will create a personal experience. Customers expect a good mix of reliable content or topics, which creates that feeling of coming back and is essential to shape a brand, and new, changing content, which keeps them excited. Preferably they are related to the context of the customers. This can start from remarkable events, which are addressed in a timely manner, and end with responses to very personal triggers, like birthday, maternity, or just a win of the favorite sports team. E.g. a brand with remarkable, event triggered, almost real-time campaigns has been the car rental company Sixt.
Shared Experience – Retail is a shared space where people come together. Shopping is a part of the social life. Whereas digitalization (partly) removed the need to be physically at the store, communities have take on the space to share shopping experiences, discuss offers, and provide first-hand user experience. But also services in physical stores are looking for that touch of community experience again. Social shopping is bringing back, what has been there before globalization and digitalization started.
As options to interact on personal behalf are key components contributing to customer motivation, shared experience is closing the loop. Look at the outstanding examples from the last century: irrespective if it has been Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon, they fostered social behavior!
Retail Success Strategies means catching up with the Possibilities
Especially for brick-and-mortar retailers the need for advanced services creates big challenges and opportunities at the same time. Taking the step into the digital world is creating big challenges for them. Competition from online retailers increases pressure on margins and business models. But the old-school retailers will catch up with the digital world. When doing so brick-and-mortar retail can rely on a big shopping community already. It gives them the chance to start over with new models, which engage customers in an advanced manner.
Pure eCommerce retailers have to foster their sales opportunities first when looking at the available channel. With the advantage of the reach of the digital channels and the ability to extend into new models, they have an advantage from agility and customer knowledge. Still more and more will look for physical stores besides their virtual presence. Only knowing, that there are services offered in-store, face-to-face, make a difference to the customer experience.
No doubt that the feature of retail will be hybrid. The possibilities of a mix of channels will be exciting and leaves a lot of room for creativity. It stays to remind the factor for retail success strategies:
Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose for customer motivation.
Relevance, Information, Inspiration for improved perception of offerings.
Personalization, Agility, Shared Experience for successful retail service provisioning.
Recently first retailers started to make use of their valuable store space to provide interactive areas with complementary services. At few stores at Staples people can rent co-working spaces soon. It will take experiments like this to catch up with the possibilities and to learn.
Future-proof solutions will deliver above all agility and confidence. Confidence is to be achieved from measures. If impact of activities becomes transparent, lessons can be taken away. Agility comes from adaptation to process requirements. The speed of continuous improvements will have an influence on the exponential learning curve. It will take a while until results will become real benefits – but then it will be a big bang.
It can be said for sure: Future retail models will bring back a lot of fun to customers and retailers. These are exciting times, take the opportunity to participate by setting up the right strategy!