Last month, noted retail analyst James Tenser got a lot of attention for a blog post he wrote titled, “The Store is Dead! Long Live the Store!” In that post, Tenser noted that “the distinction between online and offline retail sales grows blurrier by the minute, as shoppers meld their consideration and purchasing behaviors into an “all-line” shopping continuum that spans brick, web, and mobile.”
Tenser’s point of view is validated by TimeTrade’s recently published study, The State of Retail, which attempts to get a grip on buyer behavior in the retail sector. The study found that 85% of consumers shop in physical stores instead of online stores, and 90% of consumers were more likely to buy when helped by a knowledgeable associate. TimeTrade’s CEO, Gary Ambrosino, boiled the study’s findings down to this: “We have found that consumers use the Internet for their shopping or ‘discovery,’ and then use the physical store as the point of their final purchase decision. For example, they’ll use the Internet or their mobile device to look at price points and specs on a high-end camera, then go into the store to touch and feel the item, then ask an associate for an expert opinion. Consumers are using the in-store experience for the final validation of the purchase decision.”
In other words, the buying public has gone omni-channel before retailers. It’s up to retailers to get with the program and focus on improving customer experience.
To win in this retail “new world order,” businesses must add value to customer experience along the entire customer journey. Brands must act as a partner to the consumer long his or her discovery period, providing answers and helpful information along the way, and brand associates must be ready with well-informed opinions at the moment of sale. The best way for a brand to position itself to fully meet customers’ needs along the entire buying process as they hop from mobile, to desktop, to in-store, is to fully know and understand the customer as an individual.
Getting to know customers in a real, tangible way requires businesses to gather information on them along their entire customer lifecycle, from the moment a customer first touches a business until after he or she has taken the product home. By collecting this customer data, businesses will begin to fit together the various puzzle pieces of each customer, from her likes, dislikes, communication preferences, and interests. All of this information in the aggregate allows a business to build an educated composite of the customer, and associates can be equipped with this data to best meet the customer’s needs when it matters most, right at the moment of engagement.
The trick for most retailers is figuring out how to collect and analyze this data in a meaningful way. The good news is, the right CRM can do all of this and more. ENGAGE.cx is a truly customer-driven CRM, which puts the customer at the center of every business process. Better still, it sits atop all of a company’s existing systems, so there isn’t a long and costly integration process. To find out how ENGAGE.cx and The Relationship Cloud™ can revolutionize your business and the customer experience, click here.