3 Burning Questions: A Customer-Centric Approach to Retail Strategies With Hoobil8
The importance of customer-centricity in today's retail environment cannot be overstated. In order to survive in the increasingly competitive market, retailers must concentrate on the customer experience and cater to the ever-growing list of consumer demands. That being said, what exactly does a customer-centric approach entail for merchants? What retail strategies should they adopt to stay ahead of the curve?
For the very first episode of our new event theme, 3 Burning Questions – part of the Unpacking E-Commerce Logistics Series, we sat down with leading Strategy and Insights expert DeAnn Campbell to unpack all the secrets to creating and implementing customer-centric retail strategies.
Our 3 burning questions for this particular session were as follows:
What does being customer-focused mean for retailers?
What strategies should retailers employ to engage consumers as retail convergence becomes the new norm?
What are some technology trends that are shaping the retail industry?
Prefer to hear her answers? Watch the session recording here!
What Being “Customer-Focused” Means for Retailers (0:42 - 3:55)
The concept of a customer-focused business is to make every decision based on the wants and needs of your customers, including their financial, emotional, and lifestyle needs. A customer-focused company also cares about improving profits and enhancing business growth. However, they often set a longer view and they are willing to forego some short-term gains in order to develop a more devoted and long-term customer base.
DeAnn gave an example of grocery stores to demonstrate this. These days, self-checkout has mostly taken the place of cashiers in grocery stores because it is expected to speed up operations and reduce the need for manpower. However, clients must wait for a human to arrive every time the barcode does not scan correctly or an ID check is required, which makes the lines longer and slows down everything. While these businesses have lowered their operating costs to a certain extent by eliminating the need for checkout staff, they have negatively impacted customer shopping experiences by making choices that prioritize maximizing profits instead.
Costco is one great example of a retailer that has successfully established a balance between business profits and customer needs. During the installation of self-checkout lanes, the team carefully considered their customers' needs. At each self-checkout, they made sure to assign a designated staff member in charge of scanning bulky items and checking for misread barcodes (if any). Although the lines are still long, they move fast due to the presence of the staff and customers also leave the stores feeling satisfied.
Best Retail Strategies to Engage Consumers (4:00 - 6:48)
The key to success, according to DeAnn, lies in collaboration between different departments, especially between online and offline teams. For instance, the IT team could collaborate directly with the marketing team, or the social media team may collaborate directly with the in-store merchandising team. Besides, in order to keep up with new trends on various social media channels, merchants could make real-time adjustments to the customer experience, staff training, e-commerce algorithms, and product displays. This can help ensure that the customer experience is consistent every time a consumer visits and that the business can make decisions quickly enough across all departments to truly arrange themselves around the needs of the customer.
As retailers must deal with decades-old legacy systems already in place, synchronizing online and offline operations is likely one of the hardest things for them to accomplish. Having said that, it is truly the only method to control customer expectations and guarantee that you keep making money. To know exactly where each product is at any given time, the inventory must be 100% accurate in real-time.
Another tactic is to reduce the price of returns, says DeAnn. While online shopping is fantastic, the return rate is typically 20% rather than the typical 7% for in-store purchases. Shipping cost is one of the main factors that eat into the revenue. Instead, it will be much simpler if you can create a network of drop-off partners throughout the city. This way, customers can just take the item and drop it off in person, and this will help you save the shipping. That would start to boost your profit margin and improve the experience for the consumer.
Technology Trends Transforming the Retail Industry(6:50 - 12:20)
Digital media networks in-store are one of the first trends that DeAnn pointed out. The power of media extends into the physical world, bringing digital advertisements and other content. Customers can choose not to have their mobile devices tracked or broadcast advertisements thanks to Apple and Android. Retailers will therefore find it difficult to give clients a personalized experience. Therefore, it is crucial to come up with new ways to convey product value to consumers so they are reminded and benefit from certain products just as they are ready to purchase them. Additionally, thanks to these in-store digital screens, marketers and merchants can see clearly what customers are doing inside stores. This then allows retailers to look at the sales data to understand what people are buying and what they looked at but didn't buy in order to personalize and improve the experience of customers.
In the retail industry, just walk-out technology is also a popular trend. While there are valid concerns surrounding the possibility of theft and malfunctioning sensors, DeAnn still maintains that it is a significant technological advancement and a vital tool for merchants. Last but not least, RFID will also be one to watch due to the urgent demand for inventory accuracy today. After all, it has the ability to facilitate product authentication, an increasingly important function as the second-hand market expands.
About DeAnn Campbell
DeAnn Campbell is a leading Strategy and Insights expert for the retail industry. She has over 20 years of experience helping top global retailers detect emerging trends, understand the evolving customer journey and build successful business strategies for better shopper experiences and higher profits.
As a member of the Customer Experience Professional Association, DeAnn is a contributing author for the upcoming global edition of the Customer Experience Book of Knowledge. She was voted a Top 100 Global Retail Influencer for 2022 and is currently serving on the Retail Advisory Council for Total Retail. She currently leads Retail Strategy for the Armstrong Alliance Group, a Strategy and Marketing-as-a-Service company that specializes in helping businesses successfully align technology solutions with retailers’ executional needs.
About Unpacking E-Commerce Logistics Series
Unpacking E-Commerce Logistics brings together some of the best experts in the e-commerce logistics and supply chain space to unpack key concepts from a variety of trending topics, ranging from the use of Artificial Intelligence in the industry to embracing hyperlocal delivery in the e-commerce world. An integral part of this series is our “3 Burning Questions” interviews that zoom in on important industry sub-topics that we all want to know about.
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