The connected customer is not just driven by digital touch points but the ability for retailers to know people and deliver a personalised service model.
It is a topic that comes into conversation many times with Resolution Interiors clients. Before retailers jump in and interpret data and analytics to understand audience behavior, let’s get to the source of what the connected customer actually represents.
Joining our monthly Resolution Interiors conversation is Laura Burnside (Creative Designer), Mike Langley (Sales & Marketing Director) and Pippa Saunders (Marketing Manager). Let’s add meaning to the cohesive customer experience.
Let’s start with a definition.
Customers are more connected than ever before. By 2017, there will be an estimated 4.77 billion mobile phone users, according to The Statistic Portal. To put this into context, the current world population is 7.4 billion people.
The role of the consumer has gone beyond purely transactional interaction. It is the responsibility for brands to create continual experiences that imbue online and offline communication.
Retail Week produced a ‘Connected Consumer’ report (2015) and highlighted from 2,000 consumers surveyed, 46% said they shopped in-store and 32% mostly online. However, customer journeys are rarely defined as one or the other. This is where the challenge is to become fluid.
“I think that the crux of being connected to someone is where interaction flows,” stated Pippa. “When a retailer recognizes a customer who has walked into a shop is the same person who placed items in a shopping basket online but didn’t press ‘purchase,’ that is where closer bonds are made.”
The retailers who will be regarded as closer connected will be those who understand behavior and not driven purely by gender and demographic shopping traits. Software providers such as Mailchimp have recently introduced new product recommendation features (commonly seen on the likes of Netflix and Amazon). The email marketing platform has introduced a new feature (June 2016) for personalized emails to contain products a consumer may be interested in, based on the user’s visits to a website and the website’s sales data.
“The challenge in enabling the connected customer is tying up the interaction between mobile, internet and in-store,” claimed Mike. “Consumers do not see these as individual channels (or even tech), and thus are looking for frictionless interaction between all platforms. Problems arise when data collected is used to ill effect, such as relentless sales messages and information that is just not relevant to the consumer.”
Mike stated, “This puts even more emphasis on keeping a customer base informed with relevant and timely information, that goes beyond purely transactional. We are all saturated with continuous messages, retailers have a deeper responsibility than they have ever had before.”
“I know it’s a long way off, but at some point in the future we probably won’t need devices to trigger an action, people will be completely connected to the world around them,” stated Pippa. “What I am trying to highlight with the retail world today, is that there has to be an emphasis on something that is personalized and not treating an audience as a homogenous mass.”
Laura highlighted some recent retail examples. “This idea of connection is already seen with the new Apple store in San Francisco. The store builds in the concept of a town square with public space for people to learn, browse, collaborate and naturally purchase Apple products. This creates a real sense of community for its audience.”
“Even in the UK brands are taking this idea of connectivity with a community feel in the recent North Face store in London’s Regent Street. This is not just a store to shop but a venue that encourages training, promotes discovery and a space to entertain.”
From these examples, a connected customer is when a retailer has the ability to exceed someone’s needs and a space someone feels united with.
Following this theme of belonging, in a recent article from retail trend consultancy GDR and review of The House Of Dior, Sidney Toledano, president and chief executive of Dior, claimed that their customers, “don’t come here just to buy a dress, or to buy a bag. Frankly, if it was just a commodity, then you have the internet. We give the ability to the people to have a moment of dreaming.”
The connected customer comes down to retailers creating a slicker experience that has the foundations of a genuinely personalised service model.
It doesn’t matter how detailed the design, how focused data collection is or how intricate the installation of a store, if service is disconnected from a customer base then no one is empowered to drive retention.
The challenge for retailers is combining strategy, technology, service and empathy into a real life experience. This is where we believe the reward is to truly connect with an audience.