Consumers are evolving. Mobile devices, social media, and always-on Internet access have set new expectations for their shopping experience. And the speed of this shift has left some retailers struggling to find the best way to connect with this new generation of shoppers in store and online.
Traditionally, retailers have found ways to engage with their customers using historical data, but this is like looking at a photo: It reflects the past, but not necessarily the present. While retailers may be analyzing data and marketing to their consumers, if they are strictly using historical data, they may not be meeting their customers’ current needs. In order to compete, retailers must be able to answer “now” questions: What are customers doing now? Where are they now? What are their intentions now?
Retailers must look beyond historical data and bring in new data sources — social, mobile, and clickstream – to have a relevant and valued interaction with customers in real time.
Understand the current needs of your shoppers
Today’s consumers use technology to make informed shopping choices: They’re always connected thanks to their mobile phones, and they’re interacting with brands on social communities. Plus, they’re informed through always-on Internet access—whether in store, in public, or at home—and they’re able to act immediately, in real time.
But as a retailer, what do you know? Do you know if your customers are shopping for themselves, or if they’re shopping for a birthday present for their friend? It’s important to understand the customer’s intention and demands in the moment, as today’s shoppers are seeking out a retailer that can meet that need.
Retailers using technology to expand their knowledge base — advanced analytics, location-based services, and relevant interactions in real time no matter the channel – have the advantage. As consumers browse a retailer’s offerings online or on mobile, clickstream data can be integrated with historical data to dynamically segment the consumer.
Analytics perform segmentation in real time, update the consumer’s profile, and then deliver relevant offers or content that adds value to their shopping experience. If a shopper makes a purchase, location data can reveal where the consumer is and check inventories at nearby stores for pickup or delivery.
As consumers interact with retailers through the omnichannel experience, retailers can collect and use data from those interactions to understand the “now” intention of shoppers.
How to be in the now
Retailers struggle with the now question for a multitude of reasons, including lack of resources, slow adoption of technology, and lack of support. But retailers can begin to address the now question by taking the following steps.
- Provide associates with mobile tools, devices, and information that support face-to-face and online customer interactions, which help add value to the customer’s shopping experience.
- Create an omnichannel shopping environment that recognizes the customer and preserves the customer’s state at all points of the interaction in all channels, making for a more seamless shopping experience.
- Analyze real-time interactions (clickstream, location, and social) and integrate that with traditional historical data to understand the customer’s current intentions.
- Respond, in real time, through omnichannel technology with relevant content or offers that reflect the customer’s current behavior and intentions.
If customers can access online social communities, manufacturers’ specs, customer reviews, and pricing from anywhere via their mobile device, that’s where you need to be. And when customers come to you in addition to these other sources, what value will you add to the shopping experience? How will you connect with your customers right now?
If you have questions about answering the now question or connecting with today’s knowledge shopper, feel free to reach out to me at Norman.Korn@avnet.com.
About the author
Norman Korn is the Business Development Manager – SolutionsPath Consultant at Avnet Technology Solutions. He has 20+ years’ experience working with line of business and IT executives to design, develop, market, and sell enterprise solutions. He is currently responsible for identifying opportunities to support Avnet’s strategic sales plan for multiple channel partners, acting as the subject matter expert for key solution plays in the retail and healthcare industries. Norman also engages with partners to develop vertical market development strategies, manage sales enablement engagements and marketing activities.