Consumers no longer flock to the mall—but do they still shop? Yes indeed. In 2021, U.S. total retail sales reached $4.55 trillion. Add in global transactions, and it’s clear that the material vibe still thrives. Putting an item in a cart, getting an email confirmation of an order (or better yet, a delivery!) is part of the daily routine for many.
While shopping itself is still hot, the question is: what exactly delights consumers? What sort of experiences are they looking for? What will help them remember to purchase a piece of luggage they were eying yesterday, or click through a makeup order they let idle in the online cart? What will give them the thrill they are seeking?
Providing a curated interaction starts with seeking answers to these questions. A 15-minute video chat with longtime, repeat customers who have a high sales transaction history could reveal much. Retailers might find exactly what needs to be tweaked, developed, and removed to deliver the perfectly entertaining experience and the sales that follow.
What happens when an online visitor spends 30 minutes hovering over winter boot options on a website—and then leaves? Will they be sent an email or text within the next two days, checking if they’d like to continue browsing? What about a promotion tailored to what they were considering? They might be offered a 30% discount on their first pair of boots, or a free bonus item if they place the order before a certain date.
Note the personalization that can be woven into communication. Customers weary of digital scams and spam messages could be turned off if generic email blasts fill their inbox. Mobile users who open their messages to find an invitation for a customized video session with a representative may be intrigued. The consultation could cover why they are looking for boots and help them find the right match for their needs.
When consumers head to a store and ask about an item they’ve been researching, they will expect an answer based on data. Is a pair of boots in their size in stock? Can it be sent to their home? Sales associates may assist with suggestions on outfits to wear with the boots, or what color to buy for a season. They might show other accessories, such as a purse, jacket, or belt that coordinates perfectly with the footwear.
What television set is the best one to get this year? To find the answer, shoppers tune in to their favorite online figures. Influencers wow their communities with great presentations, comedic shows, and helpful information. In addition to reading industry reviews, customers listen to find out what their favorite podcaster thinks. They watch videos of their preferred YouTube star to see what tech products are worthwhile—and which ones will fall apart.
For retailers, this means a chance to build relationships with social media influencers and stars. It could lead a brand to develop a community as well. Shoppers might appreciate tips on travel from a cosmetic brand. The retailer could demonstrate how to maintain a skin care routine while on the road. Authenticity is key: if the content doesn’t ring true, consumers will turn away.
When retailers make the customer the center of everything, there is a strong opportunity to engage. With careful thought, brands can provide the right level of customization and influence that makes customers feel…well, special. After all, a brand that evokes sentiment in the heart of the consumer is one that will be sought after, time and again.
As a founding member and CEO of OSF Digital, Gerry has more than 15 years of experience managing start-ups and medium-size IT businesses and driving them to peak performance. With background in Enterprise Applications, IT Services and Consultancy, Gerry's impressive client and business portfolio sets him in the new breed for global entrepreneurship.
FOR MORE ON THIS TOPIC