Fostering relationships with customers is vital to create a successful retail business. Personally, I love it when my barista knows my name and my favorite drink. It makes me feel at home in the cafe. And when treated thus, we are those kinds of customers who would be loyal and regular patrons, bringing our friends to our preferred coffee shop.
However, forging these connections is not just for local cafes. Retail businesses of all sizes can tap into this idea with a customer engagement strategy. Irrespective of whether you are a pure-play eCommerce retailer or a brick-and-mortar retailer or an omni channel retailer, an excellent customer engagement strategy can help you increase loyal customers, render personalized customer interactions, and drive revenue.
Let's explore various customer engagement strategies based on the kinds of retail stores you operate.
Table of Contents
While online shopping is on the rise, in-store shopping is not going extinct any time now. However, for shoppers to choose you over your competition, you have to stand out.
Here are four ways in which you can cultivate an effective customer engagement strategy for your physical stores to ace customer retention and attract potential customers.
1. Introduce mobile experiences in your physical stores
Shoppers nowadays are dependent on their mobile phones for shopping, and not only to compare product prices to Amazon. A study shows that 51% of millennials who participated in a survey prefer mobile experiences to navigate through retail stores, learn more about products, and also pay via their phone.
Taking that as cue, Target's mobile app, GPS For Your Shopping Cart, enables its customer base to navigate through its busy stores easily. Shoppers can make a list of their shopping items, make their way around shelves, and grab items on the go.
Research shows that only one in ten retailers leverage the features of in-store mobile experiences. That presents you with a wonderful opportunity to overtake your competition.
2. Empower your sales representatives with mobile tools
While on the sales floor, your staff ought to be proactive. Be it to look up product pricing or sizing information or estimate delivery dates or discover similar products, a mobile tool will come in handy. It can help your customer service team to serve your customers faster when they're in your store.
You can draw inspiration from Nordstrom in this regard. This department store enables its customers to skip long queues in-store with its mobile POS devices. Similarly, Michael Kors has overcome the issues with inventories by leveraging Tulip's Endless Aisle technology. Another customer relationship management tactic for your physical stores would be to use mobile check-out combined with convenient digital receipts.
Just like these retailers, it's necessary that you answer customer concerns and seal the deal on engaged customers. By indulging your target audience in a consistent customer experience, you can keep up with customer expectations and even exceed them.
3. Offer memorable moments in your stores
There is a reason why customers visit your store - it could be the shopping experience or the ambiance or the comfort zone it gives. Whatever it might be, ensure to take advantage of the retail footfall to make happier customers by giving them personalized experiences and memorable moments possible only in a physical space.
Take NIKE for example. It is the essence of par excellence customer experience. The in-store tech is designed for shoppers to garner insights into their sporting performances. Customers can pick their athletic gear and test it on a basketball court or a treadmill. With screens displaying body movements from all angles, shoppers get to evaluate how well the sports gear would help them on the field.
I'll give you another example with Neiman Marcus' digital memory mirrors which record a video of shoppers trying on clothes. This way, customers can see how the outfit looks on them from all angles. They can even share the footage with their friends for advice on the fashion style all while in the dressing room.
The lesson you learn here is to get creative to solve customer pain points. Then, you'll keep them coming back for more and increase the customer lifetime value.
4. Get insights into customer behaviors while in-store
Amazon gives its customers an excellent experience while shopping online by tracking customer behavior on the site and throughout the session duration to suggest relevant products at the right time.
If you can do so much online, imagine the possibility of customer engagement while they are in your physical stores, within your reach! You are at a better advantage to build customer relations. With the help of the right technology such as facial recognition, heatmaps, and floor sensor tech, in sync with well-trained sales associates, business owners can tailor their physical stores to provide customized experiences while customers are there to shop.
We looked at some customer engagement strategies for brick-and-mortar retailers. Let's now see how pure-play eCommerce retailers can engage more active users and produce happy customers. Here are three strategies for you. Let's delve in.
1. Start an email newsletter and give customers relevant content
One of the ways to increase customer satisfaction with your brand is by giving customers custom content that will give them additional value. And to send your customers a steady stream of authentic content, you need to collect their e-mails and start a newsletter.
Having an email marketing strategy as part of your overall digital marketing strategy can help you reach out to new leads or long-time customers, and keep the lifecycle of click-through rate, retention rate, and real-time engagement going across the sales pipeline.
To start with, you need to create a blueprint for sending out emails to shoppers at each stage of the customer journey. Maintain a regular communication pattern, but just don't overdo it. And always keep it a rule of thumb that every email should cater to increasing customer engagement.
2. Personalize customer communication
The level of engagement with customers is partly determined by how much you interact with them on a personal level. While it's impossible for you to name every one of your customers or list their purchase history by heart, it certainly is made easy with the help of customer engagement platforms like Ingage.
These CRM applications can help you record customer data, their search history, and preferences. This way, you will be able to send personalized emails that are in context with their shopping lifecycle. These messages would not only grab customers' attention but also increase the conversion rate.
Artificial Intelligence has made this easy with click-only automation tools so that you can populate messages with names, purchase details, or any other information easily in a matter of a few minutes. The only thing you've got to be cautious about here is data freshness - so that the communication is relevant to the recipient and also fits their preferences.
Do this right, you are on your way to increasing customer loyalty.
3. Socialize with prospects and current customers
It's not nice to always sell and as a consumer, I don't want to be sold to all the time. I would rather interact with brands that give me information instead of showering me with the information that they want me to know.
Here is where social media platforms give you the chance to reach customers with interactive content that's not completely focused on sales. You can conduct customer surveys, encourage user-generated content, run contests, and do what friends normally do on social media to build strong relationships with your customers.
Retailing doesn't stop with disparate physical and online shopping alone. To ensure a seamless experience on a regular basis in the user journey, you can bridge the gap between the digital and the physical world by means of omnichannel retailing.
Ideally, in an omnichannel customer engagement strategy, you would have to determine all the places that your customers hang around - physical and online. Then, you need to seamlessly craft a bridge that will tie all the touchpoints so that while transitioning from one interaction to the next, your customers do not fall through the holes.
Some of the omnichannel customer engagement strategies that you could adopt are as follows:
- Allow customers to buy online and pick up in-store
- Let customers customize products online and try them in-store before purchasing
- Bring your online store inside your brick-and-mortar store so that customers can explore items that are not there in the current inventory.
Your customers are human beings who appreciate humane touches to their shopping journey. Form a bond that's thicker than mere transactions so that your customers become your brand ambassadors. Implement the strategies we discussed in the blog and show your customers that you care and that customer satisfaction is your top priority.
As they say, life is an echo, what you send out will come back - so, go ahead and give your customers the best possible experience with your brand, they'll always be around to shop from you.
If you need some professional advice in curating your customer engagement strategies, feel free to let us know. We are here to help!