Earlier this month, we gathered with a swarm of other trailblazers redefining the traditional notion of customer engagement at Retail Bulletin’s 8th Annual Customer Engagement Summit in London. Conversations abounded on finding innovative ways to create better experiences for consumers to help build stronger brand awareness and reputation. If the ultimate goal of retail is selling products, not just once but again and again to an increasingly large consumer base, this conference focused on the steps and technologies retailers need to adopt to create the experiences that lead to building long-term customer loyalty.
The unofficial tagline of the event was: “The future of retail is not how many stores you have, but how many customers you serve.” This requires a single perception of each unique customer – their habits, needs, preferences and buying power. Yes, consumers are increasingly relying on digital for their shopping needs, but knowing how digital touchpoints impact in-store sales, and vice versa, is a key question, and therefore was a key theme of the conference.
Accenture has predicted that retail will change more in the next five years than it has during the last 100 years. This shift is attributed to the incredibly fast evolution of the store’s role in providing a complete brand experience for the consumer. How can retailers adapt to shifting consumer needs in a static physical store? Is it possible to keep up with the changing digital tides when your physical footprints and investments are so set? The answers, while variable in specifics, were a resounding yes.
At Ecrebo, we firmly believe that stores are one of the most important competitive advantages for any retailer in this omnichannel retail landscape. Although online plays an important role in the path to purchase, the physical store brings a brand to life in a way that an ecommerce site cannot. Despite their significant investment for retailers, they can strengthen awareness of the brand and even boost online sales, and so incentivising customer’s loyalty will be crucial in ensuring shoppers continue to visit the high street in the years to come.
Just like ecommerce, only those retailers who optimise the experience for each consumer will come out ahead. Interestingly, Amazon, which has toyed with bricks and mortar retail in recent years, has just acquired upmarket grocery retailer Whole Foods, placing the etail giant firmly in the physical grocery sector space. Having a physical presence is particularly important in the grocery sector, where it’s difficult to succeed as a purely online player. But this news is going to pose a significant threat to other grocery retailers and those that don’t understand how to use customer data to their advantage are soon going to need to do so quickly to remain competitive.
Combining physical and digital storefronts to collect customer data and create that single customer view streamlines your brand offering across all channels and allows for more consistent and more targeted marketing, helping you cultivate loyalty. Whether this is curated product recommendations via ereceipts, or personalised coupons presented at the checkout, one thing is clear: Personalisation is the future of retail.