Webinar Takeaways: Why Did the Customer Cross the Road?

In recent years, the retail industry has experienced a significant shake-up. With the emergence of big-brand online retailers, brick-and-mortar shops are in stiff competition with these digital giants. Last year I joined a webinar with Adoreboard’s CEO Chris Johnston wherein we discussed customer experience in the age of Amazon. If you happened to miss our live broadcast of the webinar, you can access the recorded version here. Here a few key takeaways.

The rise of digitally-influenced shopping, and its resulting impact on consumer expectations, has changed the game and raised the bar for brands looking to gain market share in an increasingly competitive space. Research has shown that what customers really value is ‘the experience’. 86% of shoppers will pay more for a better customer experience. Yet only 1% of customers feel that brands and businesses consistently meet their expectations (Source: Forbes).

We live in a time where retailers must realise that customers are in control, but they’re a very complex mix of ad avoiders and brand advocates. It is not impossible to imagine that, by 2020, customer experience will take over price and product as the key brand differentiator (Source: Walker). So how can retailers keep up with, and capitalise on, today’s retail revolution? How can they meet and exceed their customers’ expectations?

We’ve identified four key trends that are shaping the future of retail:

1: The Hyper Relevant Retailer

The modern customer is hyper-connected, hyper-empowered and wants hyper-convenience. Brands must deliver what customers desire: value, efficiency and engagement, both online and offline. The rise of online reviews, and individuals having the ability to interact with brands and retailers on social sites, has given customers the power to compare prices and get the best deal out there.

Customers want to buy at the greatest possible convenience and lowest possible price. In addition to this is the emergence of the ‘experience economy’; customers increasingly prioritise experiences, and seek memorable interactions that engage them in a rewarding way.

2: Bricks .vs. Clicks

The Importance of the ‘omni-channel’. It’s important to note here that its not necessarily Bricks or Clicks. Even retailers who started online often end up with brick versions of their marketplace. 78% of customers like shops that start online and then develop into physical stores (Source: Retail Dive). Digital and in-store experience are seen less and less as mutually exclusive experiences. Often they complement each other.

Omni-channel shopping is the new norm. Blurring the lines between online and in-store; brands are successfully linking on and offline behaviour to create a seamless customer experience, which should be the ultimate ambition for brands.

3: Tech is Transforming the Retail Journey

Technology is transforming our daily lives and customers are now far more empowered to seek out product information. In short, customers want the future. Now. Technology is disrupting the customer journey and improving the buying experience in an exciting way.

By 2020, 40% of all commerce transactions will be enabled by cognitive/AI personal shoppers and conversational commerce (Source: IDC). The merging of the physical and digital worlds is truly irresistible in today’s retail landscape. Brands must exploit all forms of digital disruption for their benefit. They must focus on the experience and position technology as the path to get there.

4: The Right Metrics

Achieving a true customer-centric experience requires metrics that track customer behaviour in a way that is credible (can be trusted to base decisions on), reliable (can be applied across customer journey life cycles and multiple touch points), accurate (representative of the entire customer base), precise (specific enough to provide insight and make business decisions) and actionable (provides an insight into what can be done to encourage customers to return).

Data is everywhere. Customers are constantly creating insights online with every purchase or interaction. According to Harvard Business Review, by 2020 it’s estimated that we’ll produce 44 zettabytes every day. That’s equal to 44 trillion gigabytes. Data should always be about creating value for the customer. Learn from them to create a better experience for them.

In a world where customers have fundamentally rewritten the retail rules, modern day shoppers have the power to buy anywhere, anytime, on any device. Now more than ever, relationships must be built on the customer’s terms. Here are 3 key takeaways that we think are practical steps for any retailer to take in rethinking the customer experience:

1. Optimise Customer Emotion

Insight shows the opportunity to focus emotional responses as a way to differentiate means focusing on what matters to them most, and the target emotions you want to create.

2. Captivate Customers

Increasingly, customers want to be entertained and inspired. So brands need to align with the new emotional needs of customers moving from transactional environments to retail theatres. Whilst physical stores provide a natural environment to create an immersive experience, blending this with digital experiences can continue the positive experience at a different or later stage of the customer journey.

3. Reduce Customer Effort

Insight shows that customers want to reduce the effort of their customer journey – the time it takes to return an item or to speak to someone about customer service. Brands that reduce customer effort will win.

Regardless of the headlines, retail is not dead. In fact, here lies the punchline: the physical store could be the most powerful and measurable media channel available to a brand. It acts as the hub of customer experiences. In-store remains an important channel for acquiring new customers; they serve as showrooms that drive customers online, whilst also working as fulfilment points for e-commerce operations.

From online to real-world interactions, all experiences need to be seamless and cohesive. Successful customer experience is about finding what’s valuable for the customer, and putting forward strategies that put their evolving needs at the heart of the decision-making process.

First posted here

New Year’s resolutions for 2019 when it comes to data and technology

The beauty of my role in CRM and Data is that I get to help brands who have a genuine desire to simply do things better. As a consequence, I get to work and meet like-minded CRM and data focused individuals. They might work with organisations who are part of the tech ecosystem needed to support the brand’s objectives ; who share common interests on LinkedIn or who attend the DMA North Council on which I sit.

So I thought I would take the opportunity to ask some of them this simple question: ‘What should brands New Year’s resolutions be for 2019 when it comes to data and technology?’

April Mullen Director at Selligent Marketing Cloud

Their resolution should be ‘’ I will make cross-channel messages and journeys more effective’’

Artificial intelligence continues to be a trending topic for marketers. Although the industry is still in its AI infancy, 2019 will be a year where AI experimentation and application begins to take off.

What is AI going to make possible? Content optimization is an obvious area where AI can have an impact. Using machine learning, AI applications are able to make decisions on the types of offers and content shown to segments or even individuals. That’s just the beginning. Just as what’s contained within a message is dynamic, the journey will begin to develop a dynamic path based on an individual consumer’s needs. Journeys won’t be a mapped and static experience with linear pathing. The future of journeys using AI is analogous to building the sidewalk where the beaten down path has developed. Think of it as real-time optimization. It’s exciting to see the dream consumer experience that marketers have long desired to deliver finally becoming reality as a result of AI. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/aprildmullen/

www.selligent.com

Tom Howes - Director, Enterprise Sales Persado

Conversion data through email campaigns, has shown at great lengths, the ineffectiveness and overexposure of poor performing 'urgent' language. The drop off is even worse in paid media.

Brands need to think twice before using “HURRY: THESE DIAMONDS ARE SELLING FAST!” and “Cold Feet? Buy these socks ASAP!” People in 2019 don’t want to be told to buy on a deadline — even if the creative is good and your text is in all caps. Be sure to test other emotions as well. 

And guess what.. AI can be used today to enable your marketing team to do this effectively with little effort

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomhowesdigitial/

www.persado.com

Scott Logie - Managing Director, REad Group Insight

Brands need to take note of the increase in self-service technologies in 2019. This technology allows businesses to run important services automatically and effectively

The first is the use of AI and machine learning, which will automate contact strategies and customer profiling; enabling businesses to ensure that they are targeting the right people. The technology will become less expensive and therefore more accessible, meaning more organistions will have the ability to use it, not just the big ones.

The other key development in 2019 will be the use of Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), a technology that will give access to wider data sets for cleaning, profiling and data tagging. Under GDPR, there is an increased emphasis on the requirement to keep data held on customers clean and up-to-date.  DaaS enables data cleaning to be done automatically, in real-time, without staff having to manually process large data sets, enhancing productivity and data security. DaaS results in more intelligent and cost effective use of data.

Brands need to look at the use of open-source data for identifying geographic areas of focus. Some will even be able to use personal health data from fitness trackers, allowing insurance companies and other organisations to better understand target audiences, as well as to use and predict travel data to help decide on advertising locations.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottlogie/

www.readgroup.co.uk

Duncan Muir - Head of B2B CRM Enablement Standard Life

They should consider how to use their rich insights and data to ensure there’s recognition of the customers previous interactions to inform relevant and timely future interactions. Engaging with context is the way to build and grow relationships

https://www.linkedin.com/in/duncan-muir-8252b92b/

https://www.standardlifeaberdeen.com/

Chris Johnston - CEO Adoreboard

Brands need to think customer touch-point rather than channel. Their first resolution should be to go the extra mile to discover all the customer touch-point with your brand. This will force them to test assumptions rather than assume the customer journey. In many cases that might mean having  to collect new data as they identify new gaps.

The  second resolution should look at the holistic view of customer rather than as data points. This might mean exploring emotional drivers of customers or getting out to speak with customers directly. They need to discover how  customers feel and why.

Business impact first. The final resolution is to communicate the business impact of data and not the data itself. This is should be a shift from actionable insight to decision ready insight. The insight  generated from the data should be connected to the business context. This will enable a move from what many experience as recommendation fatigue to empowering decision makers to actually prioritise the decisions they need to make. By connecting these decision ready insights through narratives rather than raw data they’ll create immense value for your firm in the year ahead.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisjohnstonadoreboard/

www.adoreboard.com

Paul Meersman - Head of Marketing CDS

If brands should be making New Year’s Resolutions on how to use data in 2019 they should first look at how they intend to measure ROI. As companies invest in data analytics systems they need to prove how these systems are impacting their bottom line. Companies are also struggling with legacy systems. These two issues have to be tackled before they can use data to drive their business strategy so that data gives them a competitive edge

https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmeersman/

https://www.cds.co.uk/

Thanks to everybody who contributed, it makes great reading