Few things are certain in the world of retailers, but one fact is inescapable: Customers are going to continue to become more demanding even as their habits change. Customers are no longer satisfied with a "cookie-cutter" approach to retail. They are not interested in why Jane Doe should buy an item -- they want to know why the item is perfect for them. Nor are they interested in whether a retailer has thousands of products -- they are only interested in whether the retailer has the product they want.
The trend toward a personalized shopping experience has been dubbed "the world of me-commerce." Shoppers want to feel that retailers know them and understand what they want, even to the point of being able to predict what each customer will want in the future. Although making predictions that are 100 percent accurate would require supernatural abilities, there are ways that retailers can create a personalized experience that can also help anticipate what the customer's next action will likely be. For those interested in thriving in "me-commerce," the following steps can prove helpful.
Re-examine the Depth of Your Knowledge about Your Customers
Virtually all retailers will claim that they know their customers very well. In reality, most of them do not know their customers as well as they like to think that they do. Taken as a group, consumers change their habits very quickly, especially whenever technology changes. Individually, habits can alter for personal reasons, such as a change in family status, age or relocation. Mining data about customers is not enough -- the data must be continuously updated and subjected to analysis. Retailers need to know about each visit and every order, but they also need to answer such questions as whether customers return for information on a product they have already purchased.
Maintain Consistent Content
Some retailers feel that placing a few articles in a knowledge base represents adequate content, or that sending an occasional email to customers is the same as effective communication. In reality, online articles and emails are only part of the content needed to offer a truly personalized experience. Social media posts, mobile coupons, landing pages, microsites and in-store specials may all be useful for providing the me-commerce experience. However, it is critical that all of these elements maintain consistency and project the same company image. It is also important to update content to keep it fresh, with the goal of offering customers something new on each return visit.
Embrace Technology and Advances
Technology may be the greatest friend that a retailer has. However, technology is not static -- it is constantly evolving. Retailers who fail to capitalize on the latest developments can find themselves losing at the me-commerce game. Customers demand up-to-date features, such as responsive website designs that display properly regardless of which device or platform used for access and the highest level of security available. Keeping current on technology will also make it much easier to mine the data collected and interpret it correctly.
Plan for the Future
Almost all retailers have rolling revenue projections or goals, and most have marketing plans to help them achieve their sales. However, me-commerce success requires much more -- planning the infrastructure necessary to support growth. The time to recruit business analysts and IT professionals who understand big data and analytics is now, not when the data has become unmanageable and therefore useless. Remember, me-commerce is technology-centric. Companies need to have the right mix of talent in place as they grow.
Look for Ways to Trim the Fat
Not every dollar spent returns the same profit margin. Look for areas that can be improved to save money while enhancing the customer experience. Re-evaluate delivery methods, suppliers, marketing strategies and every other aspect of the business. For example, if you have a physical store, consider offering customers in-store pick-up or replacing traditional checkout stands with self-serve kiosks -- whatever it takes to influence purchasing decisions and enhance the customer's experience.
For More Help
EX Squared has been offering solutions for improving conversion rates, integrating analytics and enhancing customer experience for more than 10 years. Request a consultation today to learn how we can help you succeed at me-commerce.