The busy holiday season is about to arrive, along with new product launches and deals. Most people are busy planning their holiday shopping or a vacation to visit loved ones. The first thing that comes to my mind while shopping, booking a flight, or a hotel is the rewards I will earn after spending some money.
The busiest season is also the most expensive one. Retailers have numerous logistical issues to take care of: variety, velocity, and inventory. People look for the most highly rated products at the most competitive prices. They will be discussing it with friends, sharing the news and providing feedback on social networking sites, as well as making recommendations about products with the best value.
As consumer behavior continues to evolve, amid the proliferation of devices and customer touch points, retailers need to adapt rapidly to emerging trends in order to succeed. They need to capitalize on the opportunities presented by new markets, consumer behavior, channels, and product mix, while successfully containing operational costs for maximum margins. The holiday season is a make-it-or-break-it time for most large retailers. It sets their business for success or failure in the coming year with either great revenue and sell-through or poor revenue and missive discounts.
Personalization: Predictive Customer Interaction
Over the past several years, the face of customer loyalty has changed dramatically. The old school ways of marketing—when a retailer could capture a broad audience with a “one-to-many” approach through uniform messaging—are long gone. Today, consumers are inundated with messages not only from retailers, but, banks, mobile carriers, digital wallet providers, etc.
Consumers have made it very clear what retailers must do to capture their attention and loyalty. The answer is simple: personalization. Consumers consistently rank personalized promotions as a top driver of their ongoing loyalty to a particular retailer. Context-awareness is key; retailers who are doing customer loyalty right rely on technology, like visual analytics to anticipate the needs of their customers, rather than spamming them with offers that result in customer opt-out.
Focus on Customer Experience
Loyalty is no longer about points, discounts, and club cards. It is about how people, processes, and systems engage individuals with brands for revenue growth. Retailers need to engage and delight customers in unexpected and personalized ways, and in all channels—after all, good experiences lead to cross-sell and up-sell.
Retailers need the ability to combine and understand customer data across all the channels in real time, and help seize short-term revenue opportunities occurring at the point of customer impulse, purchase, or decision making. Imagine combining this knowledge with the immediacy of location-aware mobile technologies: As a customer enters the store, you can send them an offer based on their past online and offline behavior, your store inventory, and their loyalty level. As trends hold (and they will) this will be the most mobile holiday season ever, with shoppers buying less in stores and more through devices. Thus, highlighting the importance of leveraging a customer’s physical presence in a store as an opportunity to engage with them on a personal level.
Omni-channel Loyalty: Driving a Seamless Customer Experience
Today’s customers are busy. They expect to be able to traverse a brand and surf different channels wherever it occurs to them, so retailers need to have a presence everywhere—any communication channel and any device. Many stores will open on Thanksgiving Day, but being “open” 24/7 online and through mobile is less taxing to customers and employees, and must provide a personalized experience. Retailers must understand that customers expect engagement with brands via all available channels and devices convenient to them. As a result, retailers that connect the dots between all channels in order to see the “big picture” will avoid missing revenue and customer loyalty opportunities.
Driving seamless customer experiences across all marketing channels—and engaging consumers with the right message, at the right time, on the right channel—is important to retaining customers long past the holiday season. A great customer experience across all channels creates brand loyalty. The key to successful loyalty is that it’s accomplished in a way that isn’t monolithic or intrusive, but rather intuitive, personalized, and engaging to the customer and is offered in real time, any time, regardless of the channel.