Despite of rising ecommerce activities, physical retailers are here to stay as people want more than products/services. They want experiences. They want relationships. I faced lot many times when I buy stuff from brand outlets, at the checkout I am asked about my number publicly for CRM entry. Initially I didn’t mind but when I started getting so many messages without targeting, I stopped doing this.
Now brands effectively lost the opportunity to know me due to unmindful and random messaging they did as part of their marketing activities. I am sure there are many more people like me who hesitate giving the mobile number to store guys when they shop at the stores. For online players people do not hesitate giving the details as it is part of mandatory process that help deliver the ordered items correctly. Therefore, challenges for offline retailers to know the customers and establish long term relationship become stronger. Sometimes on the name of loyalty points retailers ask for details. This, in a way, is better than just entering the details in CRM and shooting random mass messages. However, these tools still have limitations.
In the same direction when we talk about capturing feedbacks, most of the retailers are not taking this very seriously which in turn result in customers not taking them seriously. I see some old fashioned physical registers kept at the check out counter where store executives ask customers for comments and feedback. First of all this is not a good way of capturing the feedback. It is not scalable and there is a long time gap when issues/complaints are addressed at brand level. Also, customer, typically, won’t write bad about brand when someone else from store is also looking at what they writing, unless there is a major issue. This is a loss of opportunity to understand the concerns of customers proactively.
Lot many things are being done to capture customers experiences and reactions inside the stores like use of video based analytics, where customers spend time, what are their facial expressions when they see the products in certain sections etc; Use of beacon technology to throw timely messages about the product; use of AR to ad more details about the products etc. These are good to ensure customers get excellent experience inside the store. However, as I see these are at very tactical level. It is like engaging the customers on products level and helping them find what they are looking. But we are missing to connect the customers at the emotion level. Customers are living human beings, they have emotion, they like to get engaged to causes they are passionate about. They are looking to engage with brands that are not only doing well but also doing good or I can say well by doing good.
Unless retailers focus on transformational relationship with customers that is way beyond transactional/mechanical relationship, it would be really difficult to build strong brand loyalty. In any case retailers need to capture customers data, they need to know about them, their liking, aspirations from brand and feedback on brand. Retailers do need focussed, targeted and relevant communication with customers when they are not in the stores. Retailers must need to think how more and more brand advocates can be created, as no other form of marketing can be more effective than word of mouth. Though these things look simple to execute but they are equally tricky.
What I strongly believe that time of manipulation based marketing is over. Customers are more aware and ever connected. They believe in what fellow customers, their friends and community of people online talk about the brand. Manipulation based paid marketing can give short term benefits but in long term it is effectively harming the brand. I believe brands need to be crystal clear on their purposes and be super authentic when they engage with customers. Brands that walk the talk have better to chance to survive & thrive in the age of purpose economy.
How retailers can achieve all those things. I propose simple steps.
- Identify why brand exist and let all employees should be feel it
- Align all operations and marketing activities as per the visions and purpose of the brand
- Be authentic when engage customers around brand’s purpose
- Focus on purpose driven marketing rather than manipulation base marketing
- Build trust, walk the talk, no un-necessary harm to the environment
- Help customers support cause they are passionate about through their each purchase
- Find common causes where both brands and customers are passionate about. Engage customers around those causes when they are in stores
- Ensure delightful customer experience and build transformational relationship rather than transactional ones
- Reach out to customers with relevant messages only as per customers’ preferences & choices
- Build community of brand followers
Purpose driven customer engagement solution is an enterprise level solution from Sociocharge.com to help brands engage customers around brand’s purpose. We at Sociocharge help brands identify higher order purpose and align it with employees & customers to drive business growth.