Consumer engagement is nothing new. Traditional retailing has always been about understanding the customer and providing them with products and services that meet their needs and expectations. This simple concept has remained the same while the approach retailers use has evolved over time.
Originally, retailers accomplished this objective by having a personal relationship with their customers and tailoring their business based upon a collective understanding of their customer base.
While this has never been a perfect model to achieve customer satisfaction, many retailers developed highly loyal customers both for the relationship they formed with the retailer and the ability of the retailer to meet their needs.
As the retail landscape became more complex over time due to the size of the customer base, the competition, new sales channels and consumer expectations, the old model of aggregating all customers in one experience is just no longer effective.
Consumer expectations have evolved and are becoming more demanding.
Consumer mobile and communication technology in its broadest definition, provide the consumer with the ability to tell retailers exactly what they want and need as well as create an expectation that they can buy anything, anywhere at any time. It has significantly shifted the retail paradigm and put a significant amount of technology in the hands of the consumer.
The empowerment of users through mobile and communication technology started outside of the retail industry and was quickly adopted by consumers. Mobile technology has rapidly permeated our culture and enabled an on-demand economy. As mobile capabilities and features become more rich and compelling, mobile will be even more part of everyday life. This evolution fuels the consumer’s expectations and demands for every business that they use including (and especially) retail.
One of the most important aspects to the new digital transformation paradigm is creating a personalized experience for the consumer and adapting to the consumer expectation. In order for this to happen, there are some key capabilities that need to be incorporated into the retailer’s consumer engagement strategy. These capabilities include:
Identifying the consumer
Understanding the consumer actions and behavior
Analyzing the data and creating insights
Developing a personalized experience
Delivering the experience
Too often, consumer engagement has been considered only the last step of the process which includes delivering the experience. However, the challenge has been what experience to deliver and why is it important to that particular consumer. Consumer engagement falls flat if the experience is generic and lacks insight into what matters to the consumer. The mission must be to understand the consumer’s needs in order to create a personalized experience to deliver.
The exciting part is that technology has advanced to a point where it can provide these capabilities and meet the demands of the retail industry in a scalable and economic way. These advances in technology and the adoption of mobile technology by consumers have made digital transformation a reality for nearly all retailers.