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Digital CRM

London Fashion Week took an even greater turn for the digital this week, when Burberry streamed their event live to their stores and people’s computers, laptops and phones. Everyone, everywhere could access next Spring/Summer’s fashions immediately. This is only the latest innovation for a digital Burberry, who have a new store on Regent Street in London. Here, as 22 foot high screen beams out images of this new collection. 

The CRM gets more sophisticated, however. Clothes are tagged with interactive screens and radio frequency identification tags, which allow customers to flash the clothes in front of interactive screens to accessorise them with handbags, shoes etc. They can also do this on-line. The cross-selling opportunities are enormous.

Now Burberry intend to launch Customer 360, where stores will be able to keep a record of customers’ buying history and preferences using handheld tablets. So when customers enter the store, they are whisked off to the departments they are most likely to buy from.

Is this too much? Probably not? Customers are used to working digitally everyday across their phones, iPads and PCs. Retail needs to keep up with the trend and use it to their best advantage. Let’s see if it work for Burberry!

 

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A summer of retail resurgence?

It’s easy to be sceptical about Britain’s ability to put on first class events, but this weekend showed that we can do it when we put our minds to it. The pageant, the concert, the service and parade were pure theatre and most people generally agreed it was well done and gave us all hope that the Olympics might be half-decent as well.

In-store theatre is something American retailers do really well, but here in the UK, we are less adept at. With the exception of a few stores, notably Selfridges, the British shopping experience remains relatively humdrum. Especially in the current trading environment, retailers are even less inclined to throw precious budget into costly in-store theatrics, which may, but equally may not, turn to profit.

Yet given the doom and gloom surrounding the market, perhaps a little bit of theatre is what the consumer needs to take themselves out of the day to day tedium of shopping and start to enjoy it again. Retailers who take the chance and get it right might just find themselves with a stronger brand affinity and stronger brand values than those who do not.

Getting the activity right for the consumer is key, however, otherwise the investment will reap returns. Understanding who the customer is and what they are looking for from their shopping experience is critical to determining what will work in store. Doing some research amongst customers, particularly if the retailers has a decent database base, will pay off as part of the planning.

Then, in the same way that the monarchy have strengthened their brand and its affinity with the British public, so can the retailer, albeit on a slightly smaller scale! 

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Keeping your customer connected…..Listening as well as transmitting

Retail has been having a tough time. Inflation is up, wages are down, credit is no longer easy to find and customers are spending less as a result. This much we all know. So how do retailers keep their customers happy in such a tough environment? Obviously, they have to have the right product at a price their particular audience will pay, whether high or low end. Yet to retain customers and keep them coming back, they need more.

So why do customers keep coming back? Sometimes, it is down to convenience and lack of alternatives. This is fine whilst it works, but is no measure of long-term loyalty. Sometimes, the decision to buy from a specific retailer is based purely on price. At other times, purchase decisions are based on a stronger, more emotional attachment to the brand, engendered through a combination of good product, good value, excellent customer service and importantly, feeling valued. This motivation to buy is the one retailers seek to engender in their customers, as it means that customers will return to buy more often and spend more money if they feel valued.

In most businesses, 80% of profit is generated by 20% of customers and these are the people who feel brand affinity. Getting this band of customers to buy just once more can significantly impact profit. Getting more than 20% of customers to feel this way will generate even more.

So how can retailers achieve this? Well, it is possibly less through discount and short term reward and more through added value and longer term benefits of being with the brand. Promotional tactics may bring money in short bursts to the bottom line, but will they engage the customer over time? Recognising customers with personal rewards can reap greater levels of loyalty. The real answer lies in a mix of the two approaches, where retailers incentivise customers to shop and reward them for repeat purchase in as personal way as possible, whilst still delivering on customer service at all levels.

CRM programmes are invaluable in achieving all of the above. If customer data is collected and analysed in line with business and marketing objectives and crucially, used all the time so that it is active and not dead data, it is possible to segment and reward customers according to their preferences and purchasing habits.

Customer choice is important too. Ask them how they want you to contact them, whether by email, mail, SMS or phone. Provide them with an app. Ask for feedback and act on it. It is important that brands are able to listen, as well as to transmit.

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The Zero Moment of Truth

Google have recently published a new book by Lecinski, The Zero Moment of Truth, which attempts to redefine the way in which retailers are talking to consumers. The Zero Moment of Truth replaces the First Moment of Truth, a marketing concept originally coined by Proctor and Gamble, where customers would react to stimulus in store and then make their choice in store. Their experience of the product would then happen after purchase.

Times have changed and now the customer works in the zero moment. Purchases are often planned way ahead of time, reviews are searched and read and both the internet and smart phones play a highly significant part of the process. This does not just relate to large, expensive, important purchases, but it is also how many customers now shop for small, everyday products. They want to know what others think of them; they want make a far more considered, informed purchase.

Think about book purchases, for example. Hardly anyone buys a book on the strength of the back cover any longer. Reviews are read or listened to and the opinions of others weighed before purchase.

Hence, those retailers who show reviews on their websites do well. In fact, those who encourage customers to submit product reviews and are willing to get as much feedback as possible, do even better. People trust reviews when it comes to choosing a product and the more reviews there are, the better it is.  The use of ‘how to’ videos is highly effective; how do they wear it or use it? Is it the right choice for me?

So how can retailers adopt the concept of the zero moment to their own advantage?

Firstly, make videos, which show the product and give consumers as much detail as possible. Lecinski found that between the point of the initial traditional advertising stimulus and the customer’s first interaction with the product, online activity often plays a vital role through search engines and social networking sites. Testimonials and product demonstrations really work.

Use keyword searches and other Google tools to help your customers find your products and the information you put around them. Make sure that your product description and the reviews answer the right questions your consumers are likely to ask.

Test what works for you and do not be afraid to try different concepts.

Make sure that someone in your marketing team is concentrating on this area. If it is incorporated into your marketing strategy effectively, it will give retailers more selling power and more influence over customer decisions.

Ultimately, this is about interacting with your customers on a more personal level and extending your CRM strategy into these interactive areas to show the customer that you are confident about your product, you are happy for others to review it, you will help them understand how to use it and that it is for them.

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Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the fittestRetail figures out this week have served to highlight the winners and losers of the retail sector in the current depressed market. Those with the right product, marketing mix and customer service do better than those who do not get it right. It sounds like a glib remark, but when consumer money is tight and credit no longer easy to come by, customers will no longer support those stores who were on the edges of their repertoire.

So what seem to be the golden rules:

The right product goes without saying: know your market and make sure both the quality and price levels meet with the expectations and needs of your target audience.

The right sales channels are key. Retailers are learning, some the hard way, that they can no longer rely on customers coming into store. Some don’t have time, some don’t live in the right places and some don’t have the inclination to come to the high street, so an on-line shopping option and correct online strategy is a must. It allows customers to shop when it suits them and allows the retailer effectively to remain open 24/7.

The right marketing channels are crucial, but even before that, knowing your customer is critical. Who are they, what are they buying, when are they buying, where are they buying, are they multi-channel customers, how important are they as individuals to your business? Did they used to spend and have stopped? Can you bring them back? Market research and customer relationship management enable retailers to target their marketing activity as closely as they can to reap the returns on the bottom line.

Customer service is an area which can never be over-estimated. Whether it is the person on the sales floor, at the till or on the phone, they represent your brand to the customer. Good service will bring the customer back and encourage them recommend you to friends. Poor service will encourage them to do neither.

Finally, it’s important to remain positive. The media paint a picture of doom and gloom and this can be self-perpetuating to an extent. Retailers who really believe in their business and take the right steps to reach their target market will thrive and come out stronger on the other side.

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CRM, loyalty and smart locations

For well over a decade, customer relationship marketing and their umbrella loyalty programmes have been a cornerstone of successful marketing and retail strategies for many of the UK’s biggest brands. Companies such as Tesco and Boots were amongst the first to establish customer loyalty programmes with sophisticated data analysis, which have grown to become hugely significant elements of their business, maximising sales and profits.

The growth of customer loyalty programs has been matched by the growing expectations of customers for marketing messages to be relevant and targeted. The digital age in which we now live means that businesses really need to understand their customers to a level that facilitates relevant and targeted marketing material to the right individuals. Get this right and not only will brand loyalty increase, but sales will be less volatile during periods of economic downturn, such as the ones we are experiencing currently.

Marketing and retail

The UK has seen customer loyalty schemes change dramatically. At first, it was largely a case of collecting points in return for money off vouchers and other rewards at individual companies. Over time, some companies joined umbrella schemes, which offer customers even more value for their loyalty by sharing set up and marketing costs, as seen with the Nectar card. So have customer loyalty schemes reached their limit?

The answer is certainly not. In fact, customer loyalty and brand loyalty schemes are really only now coming into their own thanks to technological advances, which impact on our daily lives. Of course, the one piece of technology which has revolutionised how we all do business and how we run our daily lives is the smart phone. Indispensible to almost all individuals from the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep, smart phones, i pads and other similar technology also offer marketers and in particular, retail marketers, the chance to reach their audiences accurately and with immediacy.

Customer loyaltyTo be slightly more specific, it is the location-based software available on a smart phone that will be of interest to customer loyalty scheme providers. The more targeted your marketing messages are, the better your response will be. Customer location becomes a highly valuable piece of information, which enables you to get your message across not only to the right person, but also to speak to them in the right place at the right time, i.e. near to where they can buy from you, the retailer.

Deborah Stone at The Stone Consultancy one of the UK’s leading retail marketing consultancies, believes that companies who embrace new smart technology and more importantly, use it with the right analytics, will be the real winners in the battle to retain customer loyalty and sales. ‘The first stage of customer loyalty schemes was reward – spend your money at our store, get points, get a discount. The second stage was about multi-brand reward schemes – get points, get a choice of rewards. The third stage is all about immediacy– ‘check in’ to my brand now and get your reward now. Instant gratification for an instant sale.’

At this stage, it is reasonable to say that no major retailer has cracked combining geo-location with customer loyalty reward schemes. And it must also be pointed out that it has its sceptics, who rightly point out shortcomings, such as lack of smart phone ownership and concerns over user behaviour.

However, it cannot be denied that the number of smart phone users will only grow and that judging by the success of existing customer loyalty reward schemes, it will continue to grow and shape the relationship between an individual and a brand or business. A decade ago, people queried whether or not investing in huge CRM programmes could ever affect the bottom line. We have seen the phenomenal results from those retailers who embraced the concepts and used them intelligently. So it will be with smart technologies. The retailers who think smart will reap the rewards.

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