Just about every retail expert states unequivocally that the days competing only on price, quality, and service are gone and that success in retail is now all about engagement. The question of what exactly is engagement however draws a myriad of explanations.
Anthony Bucci, co-founder of RevZilla.com says “Start with asking what interaction the consumer would want to have. Then develop your strategy from there.” The importance of this obvious yet overlooked starting point cannot be overstated. So where do we start?
- Are you identifying your most valuable customers (MVC) and what their interests are?
- Do you know what classifications, attributes or vendors are appealing to this group of customers?
- Do you know what effects behavior of this group, is it assortment price, availability, service or expertise?
- Where are you drawing your most valuable customers, what, if any, general categorizations can you make about the group demographically?
- How do they consume the data you provide, is it in store; how does their online activity impact their offline buying habits?
The first three items can be obtained from any basic entry-level POS systems, the demographic information can be available through big data integrations for a few dollars a month.
Consumers are looking for immediate access to inventory information in most cases on their mobile devices, understanding the persona of that customer grouping allows you to identify how, and what data, to deliver to them. While most SME retailers cannot curate data at a specific customer level, it is simple enough to develop customer groupings or personas and curate content to them based on the habits of the personas.
Engagement cannot just occur when a customer goes shopping, mobile devices have made it where they are shopping all the time; any opportunity to deliver relevant data is an opportunity to have customers shop.
Identifying your MVC and providing them access to information before they “go shopping” is critical in engaging them, insight to inventory (assortment, availability and prices), reviews, incoming products are just some of the ways to engage them. The experience doesn’t start when they walk into the store, it started as soon as they left after their last visit. Retailers need to be able to aggregate and consume all the available data so that they can better identify their most valuable customers and then meet their needs.