Tag Archives: Christmas and holiday season

Tech-Fueled Retail: In-Store and Online

Over the
past few weeks, the Stylus Life team has been tracking the latest
innovations in retail tech ‘ the online tools making shopping seamless, and the
in-store tech that will encourage customers to head back to the high street.
Retailers
are always seeking new ways to entice customers and encourage loyalty, particularly
looking to create convenient purchase journeys that fit around shopping habits.
This strategy is seen through Mr Porter’s recent partnership with Apple TV. A first for luxury content-commerce
mergers, the collaboration sees the e-tailer monetise its editorial video
content, letting shoppers buy directly through their TV.
Similarly, Instagram recently announced it would soon start
testing retail tools that enable users to buy items found in their image feed ‘
a move that will help both brands and tastemakers to drive revenue through the
platform. The new feature, kicking off in the US with twenty retailers, ties in
with recent stats showing that consumers increasingly shop via their mobile
devices.
The consumer
desire for convenience and curation is also highlighted in recent research that discovered 43% of US consumers are
likely to do their holiday shopping via online marketplaces such as eBay or
Amazon, compared to just 15% purchasing via an individual retailer’s website. This
dramatic difference is due to marketplaces’ ability to offer shoppers a simpler
experience, with a wider variety of products at the best prices ‘ all in one
place.
So if
shopping online is easier, what will send customers back to the store? Well, a recent survey has found that 63% of UK shoppers still
prefer the high street, but are more likely to be enticed by tech-fuelled
retail spaces. The convenience of contactless and mobile payments was described
by some as ‘life-changing’. Meanwhile, shoppers are more likely to visit stores
with technology such as virtual reality (57%) or smart fitting rooms (57%), which
provide experiences that can’t be replicated at home or online.
Tesco is
capitalising on this consumer desire for technology, trialling digital receipts that offer shoppers personalised offers,
while also taking another step towards paperless transactions. The trial,
running through November, aims to give customers more choice. Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury has placed digital interaction at the centre
of its new store, using virtual mirrors to help shoppers select their perfect
look, and in-store screens to showcase social media inspiration.
Brought to you by Stylus Life, creativity and innovation news from around the web.

Top Customer Experience Blog Posts of 2014

We’ve published a lot of interesting, innovative, and inspiring blog posts about customer experience this year, so we wanted to take a moment to look back on the most popular posts of 2014. Here are the topics our readers enjoyed the most this year:
Marketers Adapt to Digital Customer Trends for Holiday Shopping Season: Over the last few years, technology has truly revolutionized retail – Black Friday and the holiday season exemplify that change better than any other time of year. Now, marketers must reassess their strategies as consumers spend increasing amounts online ahead of the shopping weekend in order to capture the online shopping trend. As of late, Black Friday and Cyber Monday  have experienced a change in spending patterns, with the Adobe Digital Index predicting that $2.6bn ‘ an increase of 15 percent ‘ will be spent on Cyber Monday alone, with Black Friday growth up by 28 percent to $2.48bn. The holiday season in the U.S. will aim to break online records for e-commerce spend at $72.41bn, a growth of 16.6 percent in the last year, according to eMarketer. To read the full post, click here.
The Customer Experience: A Journey Best Understood in Reverse?: Even after decades of study, the ‘Customer Experience’ remains a top focus for large and small companies alike. Work from McKinsey about the consumer decision journey (references below) is just one of many recent examples. Millions of dollars and labor hours, and prodigious efforts, are spent on the subject. From time to time, clients ask’usually around the annual budget-setting cycle”What should our priorities be in evaluating customers’ experiences?  What’s the first, most important thing we need to understand’? To read the full post, click here.
Using Consumer Insights to Make Smarter Business Decisions: We sat down with Kelly Harper, Director of Customer Experience Learning at BMO INSTITUTE FOR LEARNING, to discuss how the power of consumer insights help to make smarter decisions in business. Harper goes into how important customer experience is when it comes using customer insights to make the best business decisions possible. You need to think about what type of experiences your organization is giving your customers.  Your consumer insights allows you to understand what is broken in your current experience you are delivering and what is really important to the customer ‘ what are those elements that you have to get right each and every single day. Consumer insights will help you identify and keep track of what is most important to the customer.  To read the full post, click here.
Why Your Brand Needs Social Customer Service: These days, customers aren’t calling your 800 number. Instead, they are getting on Facebook and complaining about you or sending a Tweet about your lousy service. Social customer service is a very different ball game with unique practices, plans and a different timeline. You’d better be listening for online complaints and be ready to respond in real-time or face potentially negative profits. Social customer service emerged because organic online conversations require an immediate response. When a customer complains about you on Facebook or Twitter, you’d better be listening and respond within a short window or poor attitudes about your brand escalate. Social customer service connects your customers with people, both inside and outside of your organization, and with the information they need to solve problems and make better decisions. Not to mention, your customers expect it. To read the full post, click here.
Creating a Positive Customer Experience: When it comes to obtaining and retaining customers, remembering what you learned in kindergarten really isn’t enough anymore. Now, it hinges on the effective use of social media and other Internet-based resources, according to a new study from Consero Group.  Chief Customer Experience Officers will continue to need a variety of new tools and processes to manage the smart consumer effectively and retain customers in a competitive marketplace. More companies recognize the importance of positive customer experience to overall success. But even though budgets and staff sizes are increasing in many firms, many CX executives still lack sufficient resources to run their departments well. To read the full post, click here.
The Power of Personality at Work: We caught up with John Mayer, renowned Professor of Psychology, the University of New Hampshire and Author of Personal Intelligence. We express our personalities in almost everything that we do ‘ in both our personal and professional lives. So, every single day we exhibit some patterns of behavior that are consistent and sometimes respond to particular context. According to Mayer, personal intelligence is the intelligence we use to understand these personalities ‘ whether they in other people or in ourselves. Virtually any organization today is made up of people, so you can think of the organization as an organizational chart, including Presidents, CEOs, managers, etc.  ‘Personal intelligence deals with information at a different level than that,’ explained Mayer. ‘Instead, on top of that organizational chart are real people.’ To read the full post, click here.
Customer Experience Conversations: Crystal Collier: we sat down with Crystal Collier, CEO of CX Act, formerly TARP Worldwide. CX Act has pioneered the science of quantifying, managing and optimizing the customer experience and has remained a leader in the CX market since 1971. Today, through its innovative research, technology and customer interaction programs, it continues to set the standard to improve clients’ customer service performance, customer value and “The Profit of Interaction.’ According to Collier, without considering empathy’from the C-suite to the frontline employee’delivering a superior CX is nearly impossible. Customers are driven largely by emotions, and their behaviors result from feelings. To read the full post, click here.
Customer Experience Innovation: Treat Your Customers Like People: We caught up with Len Ferman, managing director of Ferman Innovation, and former Senior Vice President of Innovation and Ideation at Bank of America. Today, corporate leaders often lose sight of customer needs in the constant quest toward next quarter’s earnings. But, what is positive for stock prices tends to conflict with long term customer satisfaction and shareholder value. You simply can’t understand the customer experience if don’t empathize with your customers, Ferman told me. ‘You have to be able to see them face-to-face and listen to them talk about their pain points and challenges,’ he said. To read the full post, click here
Customer Experience Conversations: Nestor Portillo: Nestor Portillo, Director, Social Communities and Customer Experience at Microsoft shared his best customer experience, the importance of empathy, and how social media has affected customer experience today. According to Portillo, customer experience is a combination of emotions, memories, expectations, needs fulfillment, timing and effort. All of these are important add-ons to your product or service. So, in order to deliver a great customer experience, it needs to have a high degree of empathy and emotion because the interaction goes beyond product functionality or a feature explanation. To read the full post, click here.
Customer Experience Conversations: Janet LeBlanc:  Janet LeBlanc, President of Janet LeBlanc + Associates Inc. LeBlanc discussed how empathy and emotion has a critical impact on customer experience today. According to LeBlanc, the best customer experiences are those that elicit the strong positive feelings and emotions that strengthening the relationship and loyalty a customer has with a company. Statements such as: ‘I felt like she understood what I wanted or they treated me with respect’ are the best examples of a great customer experience. To read the full post, click here.

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.

Responding with Retailer Strategy

Having understood the emotions that drive purchase for frequent
shoppers, its logical to examine how retailers react and position
themselves to the very same shopper needs. The role of a retailer is to
persuade purchase. In financially troubled times like the wake of the
meltdown of 2008, persuasion is more necessary from a value perspective.

Yet, even in affluent times, persuasion is necessary to hypnotize eager
shoppers to make more than just required and meaningful purchases
(which sometimes result  in shopping blunders when a credit card bill
leaves one wide-mouthed – consumer trends that I have blogged at length about). I believe that in some cases, the type of
shopper emotion seems to dictate the level of persuasion.

Blind Persuasion

For the equivalent of the love emotion,
retailers conjure strategies embodying severe discounts, freebies,
gifts-with-purchase, and the likes. Blinding shoppers with the
hypothetical value they are getting, it is often quite a good deal, but
one that was neither needed, nor wanted in the first place! Retail
management courses have often taught of the layout of grocery stores,
retail stores, etc., whereby enticing items are placed at checkout, or
sale items are kept at the back of the store, as are grocery essentials, so that our unstoppable shopper eyes see much much more than necessary.
The strategy works for retailers since they sell the bulk to
momentarily love-lorn blinded shoppers. All of it.

Pull  persuasion

For the almost emotionless requirement,
the consumers are likely to pull the products towards them due to the
inevitable need for the purchase. It is not necessary to elevate this
need to a want, or to cater to the emotional aspect too much. This is
where retailers can utilize the pull strategy to create singular deals.
As this is a requirement, no extra effort is needed from a retailer
perspective to engage interest, although some knowledge delivery is
necessary. Weekly discounts at stores like Home Depot or IKEA fulfill
this quadrant; consumers there are most likely buying requirement items,
pulling these towards themselves, and singular deals can elevate the
purchase volume.

Push persuasion

 Package deals are pushed towards consumers, either by the pricing
attraction or the physical store placement, thereby enticing shoppers.
Since this arena of products is already something that shoppers crave,
retailers can push the glitzy promotional material towards them. 
Besides a plethora of glossy, attractive and aspirational advertising,
package deals come in handy, as do gifts with purchase (GWP). Getting a
gift card with a purchase, or a host of related freebies, all fall into
satisfying this quadrant. The world of glorified advertising rules the
retailer strategy.

No persuasion

As Oscar Wilde says, you can resist anything but temptation. Indeed,
for that which is high on a desire list, is often not on sale. Although,
sometimes it may be, but is probably in limited quantities. The
scarcity makes the product more valuable, almost masking the need and
want all at once, but enticing shoppers to purchase it. This makes it
more than simply a requirement, more than an itching craving,
transforming it into a burning desire that
drains pockets, trickles time in lines, and sometimes also satisfies.
Think of holiday lines, the rush in stores on peak times, the limited
time Amazon lightening deals or morning-only Black Friday and Boxing Day
ones, and the gratification of getting the good deal on the last item. The retailer wins again!

What is your emotional driver for shopping? Seek your passion for
shopping, and check to see how the retailer is catering to you, giving
you options, but also enticing you to purchase more based on your
emotion. Think about what you are shopping for, particularly during the
holiday season. It has become a cat-mouse game these days, and some label holiday shopping as capitalism!

Controversial for sure, but the truth is that retailers are getting more coy, somewhat more desperate, since the shoppers have become less gullible, more frugal, influenced by social media to investigate the nooks of everything they buy, as I have spoken of in documenting how complex a modern shopping trip has become. Consumers have thus inevitably somewhat smarter.

A smart consumer? It is a retailer’s biggest dilemma. But not to be taken as an impossibility.

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh.